14th Outing: 30th September 2008). Down to three, David Raworth, myself and Dave Lindsay. To be honest I was rather expecting I would be on my own for this one but I was determined to 'have a go' nevertheless. So I was pleasantly surprised when David Raworth appeared at Deal Station, which made up for the absence of Lance on the train, "can't make it" was his text to me which I received late because my mobile was 'on the blink'.
No Bill Veale - had telephoned earlier - and no David Lintern who had expressed himself 'doubtful', but on arriving at Dover Priory there was the cheerful sight of Dave Lindsay, bike in hand. Three stops later and we three bold "bikerteers" disembarked at Sandling only to be presented with two unpleasant surprises, a steady drizzle had begun and there was a substantial hill to be negotiated as soon as we exited the station.
The wind, not too strong at this juncture, was in our faces for the short-ish trip to join Regional Cycle Route 17 where we turned south towards Lympe and descended to the coast. This sector was not well signposted and required a couple of map-reading stops before we reached the bottom and the junction with National Route 2. At last we had the strengthening wind at our backs as we traversed quiet lanes towards Hythe and the torture of wondering if we would have a repeat of last week's miserable conditions for the whole of this trip fortunately subsided as the rain began to die away. Soon we were on dedicated cycle tracks running alongside the Royal Military Canal, quite exquisitely beautiful, a decent surface, wind-assisted and dry at last. A small detour - we must have missed a signpost - where we worked our way to Hythe Imperial Hotel and Golf Club and then we were on the sea wall dodging the waves for a long glorious run all the way to Folkestone - amazing!
We pushed our bikes up the narrow lanes to the shopping streets and a fine Costa Coffee before bracing ourselves for the main assault, the hills out of Folkestone. Having left it down at the port we didn't find Route 2 again until halfway up the hills, all of which were pretty steep and required a fair amount of walking even occasionaly for D. Lindsay, but the rewards were outstanding. Once at the top we were treated to spectacular views in all directions and the trail through and beyond Capel Le Ferne, completely off-road, was the best we've seen yet. Most exhilarating! A wonderful long descent into Dover culminated in another visit to Cullin's Yard for David R and myself while Dave L headed for home. Not the furthest trip by any means at 25 miles but by far the most spectacular. (JG)