Navigating lanes and tracks, today I cycled a 32-mile loop to Winchester and back, in bright spring sunshine. I took the northerly route via Alresford and the Itchen Valley on the way, taking a detour past Cheriton Wood where the Civil War battle was, and back via the South Downs. It was my first ride of the year. The bike was looking a little sorry after the winter under cover, but after a quick dusting of webs, removing some leaves, wiping the saddle, some air and WD40, I was good to go.
At Wolfhanger Farm, proper free range chickens. I stopped to watch. Some of them were almost playing, darting around, running fair distances.
After Bramdean Common, I took a detour up above Park Dale, along the back of Cheriton Wood, where I’d never been before.
The other side of that hill was the site of a famous battle in 1644 during the Civil War, a major victory for the Parliamentarians with the Royalists forced to retreat, burning Alresford as they fled north. A memorial carving:
After shooting down a track to Alresford, I went to Itchen Stoke. There’s an unusual church – check out those windows and the intricate roof tiling:
And a slightly bigger one in Winchester, through the spring leaves:
After lunch in the city, sitting on the grass enjoying the warm sun, I picked up the Itchen again near the Bishop’s pad:
Then south as far as St Catherine’s Hill where I crossed the M3. Long queues of cars heading for the coast. Just before the motorway was a small travellers’ site, with maybe 6 caravans, some tents and vans. I walked up onto Twyford Down, lamenting the major gash caused by the M3 gorging through it. Then towards Owslebury. A nice font on the old signposts:
I was now high on the downs and with, thankfully, easier riding east past Mill Barrow and passing Hinton Ampner house, way below:
After that it was pretty much all downhill, with a long swoop past Riversdown House. It was good to be out, exercising, seeing all there was to see, pumping up the many hills and delighting in freewheeling down the other side, a big smile on my face.