A good turnout of eleven riders enjoyed a beautiful but cold ride to Barnaby’s coffee shop in Swanmore today. Alan led the way, heading through Chandlers Ford, Allbrook and Colden Common before we finally escaped the traffic atFisher’s Pond. We took the very pleasant Hensting Lane and entered the western edge of the South Downs National Park by the wonderful old barn at Hensting Farm. Legs and lungs had their first test on the climb up to east of Owslebury. This was followed by an too brief respite before the climb up Barnbridge Lane, a quick whizz down the other side and then the climb up White Hill to Upham. We stopped in Upham for a photo call.

Peak Lane followed and was the only icy part of the route with some ice and standing water in the dip. The ascent was then virtually from a standing start. After that, we all appreciated the roll down Beeches Hill and in to the north side of Bishops Waltham. Alan wisely decided that he’d had enough of the “roller coaster” hills and omitted the only hill on the planned route marked on the OS map with a chevron. Instead we headed straight for the coffee stop at Barnanby’s, the community-run cafe in Swanmore.

The cafe was very busy with some mums and tots and some other locals but we all managed to get a seat and enjoyed the cakes, toasted crumpets and toasted tea cakes and the drinks, of course. All too soon it seemed, we were back out for the homeward leg, going up Clewers Hill at Waltham Chase, through Curdridge, past the old Durley Mill, the outskirts of Durley, then Moorgreen and West End. We picked up a bit of a headwind on the way back and some of the the group probably enjoyed the extra “training effect”. The leader had a different thought, though – best not shared here. Most of the group split at the railway arch in Swaythling but all still had a few hills to conqueror before getting home.

L-R: Katrina, Simon, Gordon, Chris, Chriss, Eleanor, Polly, Kathy, Sue, Sam.