Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Ride report: Sunday 5 April – Bookham to Newlands Corner

Posted by Matt | April 5, 2009 | 14 comments so far

It all sounds so simple on paper. Get on the bike, ride to Newlands Corner and back covering a distance of 26 miles or so; job done. But what that sentence conceals is the trials, tribulations and effort of taking ten riders, including three newbies across some testing North Downs terrain. Fortunately we all lived to tell the tale.

So 8:30 up at Bockett’s Farm saw Colin, Lee, Tony, Jez, myself, Dom, DaveB, Simon, Nick and Jerry leaving for the run across to Polesden. Perfect spring riding weather after weeks of low or no rainfall have given us some summer quality trails to ride and for the new riders it was a good choice of weekend to come. They didn’t even need to clean their bikes at the end of it.

The aim was to get up to Ranmore as simply as possible, so we headed for Yew Trees and slogged up from there before heading over to White Down via Badger Run and then Collarbone – for a change. After that we arrived at the real meat of the ride at Abba Zabba, but not before passing through the car park where we found the young couple enjoying themselves on Wednesday night, hearing a story from DaveB that put the badger into badger run and a philosophical discussion on gulling.

At Abba Zabba Colin, Dom and Tony—that I can remember at least—took the plunge with the rest of us working our way round the back ‘chicken run’, which has it’s own challenges. Next it was on to Blind Terror2, Colin, Dom and myself all finding out that the run out is currently a bit dicey – maybe it’s just the dry trails are letting us carry too much speed down? I certainly found stopping to be a bit of an issue at the bottom.

Next it was on to Blind Terror before heading over the road to Numbskull and the jump at the bottom. As I was on my hardtail I took the slightly easier wide route to the final bermed corner and let the bike pick up speed for the jump, surprising myself at how far I managed to launch it which then resulted in frantic efforts to slow down immediately after. The inevitable group of us ghoulish onlookers had just been treated to Tony nearly upending his Trek over the jump, followed but Nick crashing good and proper into the undergrowth so I was glad not to get it wrong.

By now we’d put most of the chunky stuff behind us with everyone largely in one piece if a little shaken and bruised as we picked up the Abinger Roughs. Despite a range of fitness levels we mostly managed to stick together, punctuated by frequent stops which gave the fitter riders a rest—as if they needed it—and ensured the rest of us didn’t get lost! At least the day was fine and everyone seemed more than happy to chat.

Eventually came the final big push to Newlands Corner which I dispatched in the same gear I used for the whole ride, middle/middle. I’m starting to think it actually makes you ride faster than using all the gears but Jez showed me how it’s done as he drifted easily past me and disappeared into the distance on his TinBred singlespeed. I do enjoy a good climb though!

Suitably refueled, the return journey brought us back along the North Downs Way still on trails that let you really crank up the speed if you wanted. Fortunately for me I’d put in a fast ride on Friday so was more than happy to wait for people who were understandably starting to feel the effects of 20+ miles riding. It was a fairly routine run back to Ranmore, but with the weather very much on our side it was enjoyable to be rolling along seeing summer take a step closer.

We parted with Nick along here as he stopped to sort out one of the suspension bolts on his Mongoose – after checking he had what he needed to repair things he planned to make his own way home, hope everything was OK Nick?

Once back on Ranmore we took a slightly different route down toward Tanners Hatch Youth Hostel down the Third Way climb we’ve taken in the past. Narrow, muddy tyre tracks at the top gave way to a fast, flinty surface which was long and sapping. Those of us equipped with Full Suspension made short work of it but I was getting rattled around a bit on my Inbred. As Simon said at the bottom, at least he now knew that if anything was going to be shaken off his new Kona it would have done so by now. And at least his fork seals have been broken in too…

Cruelly, the pain wasn’t over as we still had the nasty climb up under the stone bridge to deal with. It wasn’t too bad in the sense that the usual thick mud had at least dried out giving plenty of grip but it was a painful surprise for our new riders. But by now we’d broken the back of the ride and it was a straightforward return to the car park.

So, a long ride for everyone and a case of in at the deep end for our new riders. There’s no getting round the fact today had hard work, big miles and some pretty technical riding at times whereas usually our rides tend to major on just one of those qualities at a time. Summing it up though, ‘this is what we do!’

Thanks to everyone for their company and good natured banter throughout the ride and I hope you all made it back safely. I spent the afternoon watching a very wet Grands Prix, eating a nice meal and ‘resting’. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday!

Filed under Rides in April 2009


About the author

Matt is one of the founding Molefathers of the Muddymoles, and is the designer and main administrator of the website.

Having ridden a 2007 Orange Five for many years then a 2016 YT Industries Jeffsy 29er, he now rocks a Bird Aether 9 and a Pace RC-627.

An early On-One Inbred still lurks in the back of the stable as a reminder of how things have moved on. You can even find him on road bikes - currently a 2019 Cannondale Topstone 105 SE, a much-used 2011 Specialized Secteur and very niche belt drive Trek District 1.

If you've ever wondered how we got into mountain biking and how the MuddyMoles started, well wonder no more.

There are 14 comments on ‘Ride report: Sunday 5 April – Bookham to Newlands Corner’

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  1. Dave says:

    Sounds like a blast! I’ll post later regarding the day Jem and I had over at Swinley. Having clocked up best part of 20 miles and burning off over 3500 calories I’m a little jaded today. Weird how I could hear Colin “Whooping” over some of the tracks and he wasn’t even there!!

  2. Keith says:

    OK so I am a potential newbie and reading this I wonder whether I will have the fitness to keep up. I live in Bookham and cycled across to Newlands on Sat and didn’t feel too bad. The thing is sticking to the ridge is easy and you guys obviously took a harder route, albeit my route home sounds identical. I am curious, one when is your next ride and two, is there a map you refer to that I can access and try out in my own time some of the more technical routes?

  3. Colin says:

    Yes Dave, I was there with you in spirit at least.

    Keith, I have a gpx file of the route but not really much use if you don’t have the software. Let me know and I’ll post it up on bikely for you. Its such a great route to Newlands and has that real ‘epic’ feeling, with lots of variety on the way.

    It sounds daunting for a newbie and yes, we did cover some mileage, but of the 5 hours door to door time for me, only 3 were spent riding !

    Tour de France it aint, so do come along.

    After Nick’s spectular get-off, I was reminded how we all must ride to our own limits – there is never any stick for not taking something on and nobody will (or should) ever feel pushed into doing something they aren’t comfortable with.

  4. Dominic says:


    Was a good ride, nice to get a new route to Newlands corner.

    Also will have to take the lads I ride with down Abba-Zabba and the rest really liked that.

    On a side note does anyone know a good road bike shop, I need a replacement for my commuting bike and would really like a singlespeed… any help would be appriecated before I just buy a Boardman SC…

    See you soon


    ps Did I miss the group shower at the end??…

  5. Keith says:

    I am just going to pitch up for the next day ride and see how I get on. If the gpx file can be read by garmin or memory map software then I would appreciate the file.

    Thanks and see you soon

  6. Matt says:

    Dom, don’t know about road focussed shops except the one up on Box Hill which may or may not cover the commuting side of things.

    Personally, I’ve always fancied the Charge Plug as a smart singlespeed commuter but I don’t have the spare cash at the moment. A £500 bargain and don’t forget the Cycle2Work schemes available.

    As for the end of the ride, I didn’t see you peel off but guessed you were going to meet the missus on Ranmore?

  7. tony says:

    Hi Dominic

    I’d recommend Pearson Cycles in Sutton. Talk to Guy Pearson (he’s a mate of mine). He does a big range of singlespeeds (great reviews), his own and and other brands (charge, specialised etc..). They do cycle to work too.

  8. Nick says:

    Hi Matt, got home OK thank you! Though when I took the dogs out the next day I must have looked like Douglas Bader walking past a magnet factory! Not sure if it was due to the 25 miles or the cuts and bruises, probably both.

    Great ride, hope to be out again soon though I may avoid the jumps. My brother in law’s mate recently broke his neck while jumping on a MTB so I really should know better.

  9. Nick (Easynow) says:

    Nick, I heard about the crash, full marks for effort 🙂 glad your ok.

    On a more serious note, dont let a bad experience stop the fun. You dont have to keep off the jumps, just start small and dont ever be afraid to take an easier line or walk over or round something if you dont think you will make it.

    I ride with the Diary of a Mountain Biker guys and sometimes with the Moles and sometimes on the more ‘freeride/fun’ rides we go down some fairly technical descents and I cant ever think of one occasion when anyone has ever belittled anyone for not attempting something. Noone wants to see anyone hurt, least of all those of us who have been hurt and know what it feels like 🙂

    Hope to see you on a ride sometime soon 🙂

  10. Keith says:


    Thanks for the route. I shall be out on the next ride hopefully. Thinking about investing in some lights to join you on the night rides.

  11. Luke says:

    Would love the GPX file as planing to fit Newlands Corner next month, but don’t know any trails. The steep hill with the stone bridge – this rings bells from my road riding days around that area. Is it a sharp bend round to the left, then a seriously steep hill, under the bridge, with a carpark on the right at the top?

  12. Luke says:

    Sorry, didn’t see the link above. Looking to start from Newlands Corner. Any reason why this may not be a good start point? Also are the trails fairly obvious – I’ll hava gps on a Windows mobile device, but it wont be fixed to the bike.

  13. Colin says:

    Hi Luke, no reason why you can’t start from Newlands, though that would rule out any fun on the drops and bombholes on Abba Zabba etc near White Down.

    Trails are obvious so you should be ok otherwise.

    Good luck and let us know how you get on.

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