Gravel/off-road route from Richmond Park to Surrey Hills

Questions and answers about routes.

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jimbop
Posts: 31
Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2018 4:51 pm

Gravel/off-road route from Richmond Park to Surrey Hills

Post by jimbop » Mon Jul 23, 2018 11:58 am

Hi all - exciting times - off on my first bikepacking trip with a mate tomorrow afternoon. Just a one nighter, we're planning to wild camp somewhere in the Surrey Hills, maybe Leith Hill or nearby? He's got a little tent and i've got a bivvy setup. We'll be leaving from Chiswick and probably going through Richmond Park but haven't planned a route yet. Ideally as much as possible gravel/off-road. I'm not that fit/strong yet and i'm on a cx so don't want to go toooo crazy off-road but i'm game as long as it's not bone-shaking terrain. Any suggestions?

Oli.vert
Posts: 231
Joined: Mon Sep 25, 2017 6:17 pm
Location: London

Re: Gravel/off-road route from Richmond Park to Surrey Hills

Post by Oli.vert » Mon Jul 23, 2018 11:43 pm

I've ridden the Surrey Hills a lot - mainly taking a train down to Ashtead and riding from there, but you could ride from Richmond either by following the Thames to Long Ditton, or heading across and over Wimbledon Common - but from there you're in urban sprawl to Ashtead. The Thames route seems to have the least sprawl to ride through.

I think my preferred option would be to stay on the Thames towpath to Long Ditton, from there it's a short hop to Ashtead, from where you can join Stane St, the old Roman rd - a nice gravel/flinty bridleway. Follow that for a few miles and come off it just past Juniper Hill, next door to Box Hill. Don't go up Box Hill, it's for lycra louts and tourists. Instead, cross the A-road to West Humble and from there up to Ranmore Common and the North Downs. Follow along the top as far as you like but for a nice offroad route up to Leith Hill, come off Ranmore somewhere that points you towards Rookery Drive (on the other side of the Dorking - Guildford Rd). Follow Rookery Drive till you find the bridleway and ride that till it becomes Wolvens Lane. From there the world is your playground, and anything uphill will point you towards Leith Hill.

Midweek is the best time to be out there - I'm envious. :-bd

jimbop
Posts: 31
Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2018 4:51 pm

Re: Gravel/off-road route from Richmond Park to Surrey Hills

Post by jimbop » Tue Jul 24, 2018 5:22 am

Oli.vert wrote:I've ridden the Surrey Hills a lot - mainly taking a train down to Ashtead and riding from there, but you could ride from Richmond either by following the Thames to Long Ditton, or heading across and over Wimbledon Common - but from there you're in urban sprawl to Ashtead. The Thames route seems to have the least sprawl to ride through.

I think my preferred option would be to stay on the Thames towpath to Long Ditton, from there it's a short hop to Ashtead, from where you can join Stane St, the old Roman rd - a nice gravel/flinty bridleway. Follow that for a few miles and come off it just past Juniper Hill, next door to Box Hill. Don't go up Box Hill, it's for lycra louts and tourists. Instead, cross the A-road to West Humble and from there up to Ranmore Common and the North Downs. Follow along the top as far as you like but for a nice offroad route up to Leith Hill, come off Ranmore somewhere that points you towards Rookery Drive (on the other side of the Dorking - Guildford Rd). Follow Rookery Drive till you find the bridleway and ride that till it becomes Wolvens Lane. From there the world is your playground, and anything uphill will point you towards Leith Hill.

Midweek is the best time to be out there - I'm envious. :-bd
Brilliant!! Thanks so much Oli. Train to Ashtead is an option but my friend is working so we're unlikely to get out until 5 or so and I imagine the trains will be packed at that time (as will the roads) so it might be tricky to get our loaded bikes on. I'll draw up the route you've suggested on Strava and assuming I can get this cough to clear a bit then we'll be off later. I'll let you all know how it goes.

mat_swan
Posts: 233
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2014 8:46 pm
Location: South East

Re: Gravel/off-road route from Richmond Park to Surrey Hills

Post by mat_swan » Wed Jul 25, 2018 10:03 pm

Stane street to the bottom of box and up wolverns is what I'd recommend for minimal navigation- on the whole once you're on them you can follow them for a while. If you don't fancy slogging over ranmore ( and you might not, the best descents would be extremely troubling on a loaded bike), you can go round fairly easily- get through Dorking and on the a25 heading for westcott and there's a traffic free cycle route goes off to the right that will take you more or less to the bottom of the rookery.

mat_swan
Posts: 233
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2014 8:46 pm
Location: South East

Re: Gravel/off-road route from Richmond Park to Surrey Hills

Post by mat_swan » Wed Jul 25, 2018 10:04 pm

Annnd I've just realised the date. How did it go?

jimbop
Posts: 31
Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2018 4:51 pm

Re: Gravel/off-road route from Richmond Park to Surrey Hills

Post by jimbop » Thu Jul 26, 2018 7:42 am

Morning! So it was a really good trip and we learned a lot! I've had a bad cough for 2 weeks and had barely slept on Monday night but I was determined to go regardless and if I couldn't complete the ride I figured I could just hop on a train and get myself home if i had to. I'd put my Sammy Slicks on earlier in the day and after passing Hammersmith Bridge on my way to my mate's house the rear inner exploded because i'd managed to pinch it when i fitted it. My chain tool on my multitool had broken and I'd left it on my desk...so I couldnt' undo the Pitlock skewers (they are going to be replaced) so my mate had to slog through rush hour traffic for 30 mins to pick me up in his car. We eventually got on the road at about 19:15ish. I was amazed by house different my bike handled with some weight on it - a lot more momentum and a smoother ride (some of that will be due to moving from 30mm at 85psi to 35 at 65psi) - it felt like the difference between flying an empty glider and then filling it with 200kg of water - it just goes a lot faster for longer once you're up to speed. We both had it in our heads that it would be light until about 22:00 for some reason.

We set off and road through Richmond Park (I'd never been through the middle, only around the outside so that was a really nice find for me), along the river path (mistake at that time in the evening because swarmed with people drinking and chatting) and then got to Long Ditton. I studied the route you suggested and it added about 10km so I made up a route to get us from Long Ditton to Leatherhead taking in as much non-road as possible. We found a really nice bridlepath running along the side of Surbiton Golf Course and a few other bits and bobs amongst the urban sprawl. We got a bit stuck at Leatherhead due to a footpath being all but impassable and so as it was late we elected to just get to Box Hill on road ASAP because it was dark and I was tired. My mate does Ironman comps and he knows the area well but we took a long way and added about 5km. We climbed up Box Hill and got to the viewpoint around 22:00 - it was busier than i imagined and i wasn't keen on it as a wild camping spot but it was an easy option with a climb that i could probably manage even in my sick and tired state. My mate promptly cut his index finger really deeply opening a beer bottle and i'd not brought my first aid kit because i knew he'd take the piss for taking the kitchen sink so i took some insulation tape off my frame and we used that to get some compression and stop the bleeding. It was 50/50 whether it was an A&E job but it was a long ride and there was no chance i could manage it. We ate a hot meal and then got our heads down and then the coughing started. We got on the road just before 8am and re-traced our route - we really enjoyed the ride. We stopped for a coffee and second breakfast after Richmond Park and i then spent the day at a mate's flat in Maida Vale (i'm still looking for work), he kept the coffee flowing and then I got home and slept a lot last night.

I tried to upload the GPX file but it said that the file extension wasn't allowed - what's the workaround?

I was amazed by how much you need to pack for one night - in the summer. So different from backpacking where space is less critical. Next is potentially a ride up from London to a friend's house in Gloucestershire next weekend with a night stop on the way I think. I'll need to start researching it this weekend when I have more time.

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