After spending four wonderful days in London we were eager to get on the road and get on with what we were really here for. Too many pints and self guided pub crawls with old friends were draining our funds quickly. As we had already ridden from the outskirts of London to the CBD to stay with Kerry and Bruce we really saw no need to battle with the bus exhaust fumes and crazy traffic again. We set off from their place with a very (VERY) vague idea about what we were going to do. We eventually decided that after some riding we were going to get on a train and get as far out of the city as possible to increase our chances of actually finding somewhere to camp for the evening.
We arrived at Guildford and set off towards the big section of green that we saw on the map and assumed we would find somewhere to pitch up for the night. What followed was a stunning ride down The River Wey in the blissful afternoon heat. The gravel path twisted and turned, each curve revealing somthing new to see. We rode past countless lines of houseboats with their owners (including their fury four legged friends) basking in the afternoon sun on deck.
After about 15km we found ourself in the forest however it wasnt quite what we were hoping for. It was quite a busy little area, with tracks weaving everywhere from local houses. Whilst we were aimlessly riding around (getting a little desperate) we met a lovely man named Ian with his gorgeous black Labrador called Chester. Ian proceeded to offer us a space in his back yard where we could pitch out tent for the night. Needless to say we took him up on this offer and followed this stranger back though the forest to his home. Ian was an amazing host, he ensured we were well hydrated (with beers) and fed (with burgers).
After a good nights sleep we woke up with fresh enthusiasm to finally complete our first day of ‘real’ touring. We set our sights on yet another green patch on the map and we were off. We threaded our way through numerous cute little english settlements, complete with picturesque cottages covered in roses. Bliss. The weather was beautiful so we decided to stop for a cheeky brew (only to keep out of the mid-day heat of course!). One of the great things about this time of year in England is the insane daylight hours. The sun rises at 4.30am and doesn’t set until 10pm at night, leaving us ample time for cool evening cycling, and more importantly, 3 hour long lunch breaks at pubs.
After a few more hours of beautiful riding through tiny green lanes we decided to start seriously looking for a place to sleep.
We rode into the Queen Elizabeth Country Park and knew that this was that place. I can’t put into words how magical this place was, so I will just let the pictures say it all
After a revitalising nights sleep in what can only be described as a dream camping spot, we slowly packed up our bikes and got back on the road. Today we set ourselves the (unknowingly bold) goal of making it down to the coast at Portsmouth, catching the ferry over to the Isle of Wight, riding down the coast of the island and then catching the ferry back to the mainland to make it to the beach cottage that we were going to be staying at for the new few days.
The first section on this leg was, as usual, beautiful (albeit uneventful). When we made it to Portsmouth we hopped on the ferry and shortly after arrived on the Isle of Wight. From the ferry I passed a flying comment that it looked a little hilly, but nothing major. What proceeded were four blistering hot hours of riding up hills, then down, then back up and back down again (im sure you get the picture).
I must admit I was feeling a little defeated and dark about half way through the day and pretty sad about the prospect of not making it to our beach cottage today. This was a really good learing point for us. Having a place we need (or want) to be whist we are riding can put undue pressure on the journey and realy detracts from the whole reason we chose to travel this way. Ideally we would have spent more time on the Isle to realy appreciate what was going on but we were still enjoyed the little of it that we did see. It had a great coastal beachy vibe that I can imagine is quite rare in the UK.
Eventually after 75 scorching hot kilometers and two ferry rides later, we found ourselves in the seaside town of Lymington. We made it! I was elated. I had almost convinced myself to let go of the dream of making it to the cottage. Tolerance for adversity points well and truly gained.
After a short ride around the beautiful coastline we arrived at the sleepy little village of KeyHaven and our perfect little home for the next while. Wow. We were speechless.
What proceeded was an incredibly enjoyable and well earned evening of eating £1 wheels of French camembert, pizza, red wine and good times. We are privileged enough to have free run of this large seaside cottage called ‘Salt Grass Stables’ for as long as we like. Let the true relaxation begin.
Salt Grass Stables funnily enough, used to be the stables for the large house down the road called Salt Grass House. We are very much looking forward to having our own space for the next little while, and hopefully get some friends down from Bristol and London for the weekend to make the most of this perfect little place.
Lots of love
Anna and Sam xx