Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Ride report: Friday 29 April – Hindhead

Posted by MarkyMark | May 3, 2011 | 5 comments so far

Not tempted by 6 hours of TV coverage and union jack waving, 14 Moles (Gary, Matt , Dave, John, Karl, Kev, Dandy, Alex, Lloyd, Bruce, Simon, BigAl, TonyD) decided to celebrate the ‘big day’ by caining a classic West Surrey/Hampshire/Sussex mega-loop from Hindhead via Black Down.

The Moles rest at Black Down

With a revised start point just around the corner from the Devil’s Punchbowl, we were about to clip-in when John revealed he’d locked his bike in the back of the car the night before and left the key at home! He was still keen to ride so we quickly worked out a suitable rendezvous point (Champneys) allowing him time to trot home and unlock it.

So, 13 headed west through the woods, picking up speed into tight rooty single-track which quickly raised the grin-factor. As the last of the group popped out onto the main trail we had our first puncture… Gary’s Camelbak bladder! At least a litre had pissed out all over his back on the first descent. A rapid repair with a Park Tool patch saw us on our way, into a tight right hand turn down ‘death star gully’ – more tree dodging down a heavy leafy path as we lost significantly more height down to a small road.

Next, a short, but tricky climb up a By-way brought us out directly opposite Grayshott Hall Spa. After circumnavigating the Spa we cruised nicely onto the sandy Ludshott Common before spinning out several miles later at Headley (the other one). I’d recently added in a sweet section here along the picturesque River Wey. The bank was narrow and rooty and I was sure at least one of us would get a soaking. No chance – all through dry.

A brief stop at Passfield Stores for some supplies, and a re-setting of Bruce’s Cannondale Rize front mech, we blasted on across Woolmer Forest, eventually over the A3, over Longmoor Camp and out to Champneys Health Spa. There’s a beautiful lake here, the loungers were out and residents milled around the grounds in bath robes.

At the end of the road we hooked up with John who was keen to get stuck in and headed off across the Golf Course, down the Sussex Border Path into Shufflesheeps where Gary sniffed out a secret ‘jump park ‘. A cracking spot to get some ‘air’, albeit littered with rubbish including a sofa, shopping trolley and an old bike frame!

Gary on the jumps

Stanley Common beckoned and it was time for a short break at the half-way point, with a handy bench seat for those who could nab it. This was a timely rest stop for Alex who’s knee was playing up following a football injury just before Christmas.

After consulting the GPS, and with Alex’s knee getting worse, Dandy & Son peeled off towards Liphook, while the rest of us climbed through Cognor Wood, rewarded with a great decent down to Kingsley Green/Hatch Hill Farm. 12 continued on more roller-coaster trail through a mixture of single-track, bluebell infested bridleways and By-ways to the foot of Black Down.

At 919 ft Black Down is the highest hill in Sussex, only second to Leith Hill in southeast England. Congrats to John, Gary and Matt for clearing the climb. At the top Kev pointed out the contour lines on his Garmin – this really is one mother of a climb.

From the Black Down viewpoint we cut across the edge of the hill on quirky single-track, flushing out into Black Down National Trust car park. A brief stop, and a quick warning from me about the next descent (full of larger than normal rocks and logs,) and off we went.

I hate getting to the bottom of a big gnarly descent to find a handful haven’t popped out. Perhaps they’d taken a wrong turn? That wasn’t possible on this run. That meant one thing, someone had stacked it. Dave and I strolled back up the trail to find Karl had endo’d it. But not a scracth on him… except a 1cm hole in the top inside of his leg that you could stick half your thumb in.

Kev patched him up, and after drawing on some energy gel to calm the shock, we scratched our heads trying to work out exactly what had punctured him. “There’s no claret on the brake lever”, pointed out Dave. And nothing else in the vicinity that could have caused such a wound. It was a mystery.

With about 8 miles to go Karl dug in and we criss-crossed bridleways and fields, tracking past some magnificent tudor buildings en route. Then, the climb out. You could feel it building. All that height we’d lost at the beginning was starting to show as we began out ascent of the south side of the hills leading up to the Devils Punchbowl. Karl hung in well despite the injury, and eventually we arrived at the Devil’s Punchbowl National Trust café for some well earned tea and flapjack.

Approx 30 miles, 850m of ascent and 860 metres of descent. Judging by the smiles we’ll be doing this one again, soon. Route info here from my Garmin Edge 500.

Filed under Rides in May 2011


About the author

Every riding group has a bike mechanic of some sort, even if they're just enthusiastic knowledgeable amateurs. Well Mark is a bit more than that, he is actually a qualified bike mechanic and has a certificate and everything to prove it. This comes in handy more often than you'd think (the bike mechanic bit, not the certificate bit you understand...)

There are 5 comments on ‘Ride report: Friday 29 April – Hindhead’

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  1. Big Al says:

    Great ride Mark. Always good to ride somewhere new. Looking forward to doing it again soon. Get well soon Karl.

  2. John R says:

    Yes, it was a great route, Mark. At least the half I did was, although everybody told me the first half was FAR better!

    Next time I bring the bike lock I must remember to bring the key!

    And thanks for the lift back to Liphook.

    Fill set of Dave and my pics are on Flickr:

  3. Matt says:

    I really enjoyed the ride, was great to be on new trails. The first techy trail from the car park was a hot, so dry, just a narrow ribbon of singletrack, dusty and rooty… sorry John!!

    Was a shame Alex was suffering, he looked to be in real pain by the time he and Andy called it quits, hope there’s a quick recovery. As for Karl… bleughh! Not pretty and most worrying finding someone unmoving and rolled into a tight ball. I was worried but he’s made of strong stuff. Again, hopes for a swift recovery Karl.

    What was most weird was how he and John managed to discover they were in the same class at school – either the phrase ‘living memory’ was made for them or Karl was still in shock from his fall!!

    The spot where he tumbled was really the only nasty spot on the ride, once we were off the bikes and standing it became apparant how steep the track was and also how much rock and dead wood was concealed by the thick layer of old leaf fall. I will be treating it with respect next time but note there will definitely be a next time.

    Excellent route so many thanks to Mark and Gary for route finding and planning. Now, if we can just find a cafe somewhere on the route it would be perfect…

  4. Karl says:

    Cheers Mark, great ride (mostly)! and what a fab bunch of compadre’s.. Special thanks to Kev for sorting out the field dressing, to matt for the energy drink, and John, for being at school with me a thousand years ago..
    Spent two hours in A+E Friday pm. but was glued jabbed and fixed up fine. I’m hobbling about now with a kaleidoscope of colours on my inner thigh. Consider myself lucky to have missed the ‘junk’ and all other vital organs though, and thanks to all the guys for a ‘big’ ride and big kindness.. Will be back soon… on a different rig, and with a bit less gung ho.!

  5. Markymark says:

    Am up for that one again anytime chaps. Just say the word. Glad you’re ok Karl. I reckon that one’s worth entering the MBR injuries column if you’ve got any pics. Even the bruise must be a cracker! Matt – we need a Moles injury page so we can post our shockers for all to enjoy.

    Alex, hope the knee’s recovering. Hope to see you out again soon.

    See you later for the night ride…

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