Wednesday, August 23, 2006

A Visit to Gilbert's Gaff

Route: Selbourne #1
Present: Ade, Al, Jon, Julie

For one member this was an emotional reminder of the halcyon days of the TCA when HQ was based at Hartley Mauditt. Regular rides from 'The Lodge' scoured the area for a good route, often ending in disappointment, disaster, disorientation and/or discomfort. Eventually we discovered that to the south there were rich pickings around Selbourne, and after months of honing the trail the Selbourne #1 Route became established as one of the classic rides. This week Al introduced the new-look team to a ride that is etched deeply into the annals of TCA history...

The group met up in the car park behind the Selbourne Arms (left), a favorite watering hole for TCA hikes of yore from The Lodge. This is free and conveniently positioned at the bottom of the Zig Zag path, a landmark cut into the hillside by Selbourne's most famous inhabitant, Gilbert White and his brother. The car park also has a public toilet which, rather bizarrely, automatically locks shut at 7pm; fortunately Ade had done his ablutions before the witching hour or we would have been a man down before a pedal was turned.

This being a special one-off ride we all arrived by car and Al regaled the newer recruits with tall tales of poor navigation, close encounters with wildlife and outrageous 'offs' from the history books as they geared up (above, right). He was also able to tell them a little bit about the local history and his admiration for Gilbert White, the celebrated naturalist and curate, who lived in the village, and for Laurence "I am just going outside and may be some time" Oates (who travelled with Scott on his ill-fated Antarctic expedition) in whose memory a museum is housed at 'The Wakes', White's restored house. Both surely would have approved of the spirit of adventure and respect for the environment fostered by the TCA. Gilbert White's House and gardens and The Oates Museum are well worth a visit, if only to visit the fabulous Tea Parlour which sells exceptionally good cakes based on 18th century recipes.

Tired of his stories the group set off just as the remaining members were deciding whether to shut Al in the self-locking toilets. North, through Selbourne, past Gilbert White's hallowed abode and on up to the approach to Selbourne Common (Map 1). There followed a slightly muddy slog up the hangers on a well-marked bridle path which somehow Ade and Jules came adrift of before the first junction. There followed an series of barked instructions from Al and Jon, at the top of the hill, before Jon spotted the missing party several hundred yards away in an adjacent field. A gap in the barbed-wire fence was found and the group reunited before continuing up the hill. While Al felt confident that he could remember the route from bygone days it was a good job that Jon had the presence of mind to put the correct O/S map in; the criss-crossed bridle paths and footpaths were soon offering distraction. Nevertheless, we picked our way down through the woods and off the hill again to join the Newton Valance road.

After a couple of hundred yards of tarmac we turned off the road and headed up Button's Lane, a track which slowly wends it's way up to Keyham Farm (Map 2). It was around this part of the route when Ade rather proudly proclaimed that this was the first ride on which he had encountered "adverse weather conditions". Jon and Al could hardly contain their amusement since, according to the TCA handbook, a calm, windless evening at 17 C , overcast with moderate drizzle by no means constitutes "adverse conditions"! The drop down from Keyham Farm, past Proirs Dean Vineyard (above, left) is a steep, technical section of the route, rutted by rain water with a number of sharp steps, which has seen numerous offs in the past. However, on this occasion we all made it onto the Hawkley road without incident.

Having reached the road there is a steady climb up to Lowergreen Farm (Map 3) and on to the Hawkley Inn (right). This is one of the TCA's 'all-time favorite' pubs and has been patronised on numerous walk and rides in the area: It sits on the Hanger's Way, another of the long distance paths executed by the TCA's crack Walking Team in the past. 'The Hawkley' always has a fine range of hand-pulled real ales and an extensive menu of reasonably-priced home-cooked food. [It pains me to say it but I cannot remember what type of beverages were selected as Jon got the round in but needless to say it was a cracking pint, Ed.]

The return route from Hawkley retraces the road route back past the turn for Button's Lane before taking a right turn (Map 2). We left the road at Empshott Green and climbed steeply up towards Noar Hill, cycling as far as we could before eventually dismounting to haul our bikes up the steep incline. By the time we got back on our bikes lights were required as the evening was gradually closing around the densely wooded section of the ride. After the initial right turn at the top of the hill we had to be careful not to miss the left turn at the next junction, following the hill up and round before the legendary descent down 'Badger Alley'. The track finally joins the road above Selbourne which drops sharply to the village to complete a satisfying circular route.

Despite the 19.7 mile round trip our early start meant that we had time for another swift pint in the Selbourne Arms while we conducted our debriefing session. Topics included: setting up an account with Wiggle ahead of the winter gear-purchase frenzy; the procurement of 2-way radios; our next victims for recruitment and the venue for next week's ride... watch this space. It was unanimously agreed that Selbourne #1 Route is a rival for any ride and resolved that we should definitely do it again in due course.

Hawkley Inn: The obligatory toast to absent members

Route Maps:

Key: Outward Route / Return Route

Map 1

Map 2

Map 3

(Posted By: Al)

Labels: , , , , , ,


At 10:45 am, August 24, 2006, Blogger simon said...

well. the blog is just getting better! maps!

At 8:13 am, August 25, 2006, Blogger Ju's little sister said...

Here here Simon! But are you sure Al that Ju and AD were, in fact, lost? I know he had a lot of trouble staying on a straight line during thistle grubbing adventures. It all sounds and loks very exciting though, well done TCA!

At 9:24 am, August 25, 2006, Blogger TCA 2006 said...

Ahh 'Badger Alley!', The Lodge and Hartley Inn...fond memories a plenty - I am starting to get homesick now especially at the mention of those tea cakes at the superb Oates Museam. A splendid Blog and I like the route maps! It does make me realise that the UK Ordnance Survey map is unsurpassed in my view.

Bad weather?!..oh so much to learn.

Keep it coming. B.B

At 11:07 am, August 25, 2006, Anonymous Ad said...

What acracking Blog, yes sorry for my wimpish quote, but it was the most technically difficult ride for me yet, but I realy enjoyed it and want to find more rides like it and with the new kit i'm going to get hold off, Bring on the adverse conditions...

At 11:08 am, August 25, 2006, Blogger Ad said...

Paul, I love your bike!

At 11:41 am, August 25, 2006, Blogger TCA 2006 said...

Hey BB, d'ya like the new 'bike' icon on the comments?

What about the new sponsor?

It's all looking pretty flash now eh? All with a little help from Maalie King (see links) who is down this weekend.

By the way there way much debate about the new slim-line BB appearing on recent posting photos Whether it is true or a trick of the light. More photos (in profile) please!

Have a good w/end

At 12:19 pm, August 25, 2006, Blogger TCA 2006 said...

JLS, I think the term I used was "adrift" not "lost". There is a world of difference as every TCA member knows only too well.


At 7:49 am, August 26, 2006, Blogger simon said...

we call it misplced down under.. never lost. I do like the improvements! that Maalie king is a bit of a wiz really....

At 7:50 am, August 26, 2006, Blogger simon said...

mispLAced! sorry.
hey I have a thought. When the Maalie king arrives in Aus.. does that make him the WIZard of Aus??? (ahhahahaha!) ;o)

At 11:13 am, August 27, 2006, Anonymous Mrs BB said...

Cool maps Al! how did you get the nice pink and red dots so neat? :o)

At 6:08 pm, August 28, 2006, Blogger TCA 2006 said...

Hi Stef!

I got the maps on multimap, saved the pic and edited in 'paintshop': I just used the 'spraycan' at it's smallest setting and eld it down in the same place until a circle formed.. neat eh?

Love the skiing pics, will blog them this week.


At 11:56 pm, August 30, 2006, Blogger simon said...

youv'e got a bike in your profile ( cool) I got a kayak! :o)

At 12:32 pm, September 01, 2006, Blogger Maalie said...

What exactly is lycra? And why all the fuss?

At 6:51 am, September 02, 2006, Blogger simon said...

Well.... some say its more comfortable than shorts. some say it helps with overall speed (wind efficencies), and wicks away sweat preventing chafe.

Its a bit like the "Shaved Leg theory." I asked a pro why. He said "wind efficency", and when I looked puzzled , he then said.. "it helps if you fall off, you hair does not get pulled out..." then when I looked even more puzzled, he said.. really it makes your legs look better!

perhaps the same can be said for lycra?? if you look "good" show it??

I dunno...


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