This might be what it feels like to be a rabbit, or a fox, perhaps. Scurrying along the edge of hedgerows, through labyrinths of close grown bushes, darting out into sunlight and across a field, then back into the shade of a holloway. It’s not Watership Down I’m riding along – though with my knowledge of southern English geography, it might as well be – but instead the new North Downs Way cycle route, running from Farnham to Dover.
This is alien geography to me. There are hills – indeed, the first climb out of Guildford (we start here, as it’s where Cycling UK has its office) has me worrying what the days ahead might hold – but I discover that once up, it is possible to ride along for miles, not actually realising you are up until there’s a sudden break in the hedges and a broad vista presents itself. Then, you find yourself looking across broad valleys and small rolling hills until your eye reaches the ridge of the South Downs in the distance (to the south, in fact – even my geography can manage that). It’s no rural idyl though – there’s a constant background roar of the motorways feeding and circling London, and as we ride through the series of connecting snickets and thickets there’s a strong sense of being at play while the rest of the world works.
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- GPX files of the route are here, on the Cycling UK site.
- Farnham to Dover is approximately 150 miles, 34 miles of it is on roads.
- The route can be easily split into sections (and the GPX is in three 50 mile options) using local rail services.
Accommodation and food for the trip were provided by Cycling UK.