Back to the Surrey Hills
Finally after too many years away from Leith Hill and Holmbury Hill I've convinced some work colleagues to join me on one of my favourite mountain bike routes in the South East. The weather forecasts leading up to today had not been particularly favourable, but a hard frost overnight and clear skies in the morning looked promising.
Arriving at the National Trust car park, just off the A25 near Gomshall, the weather wasn't disappointing. It was shaping up to be a great day! Rory, Daniel and myself were ready by 10am. Phil was starting at Leith Hill at the same time as the rest of us and was planning on cycling the same route with the aim to of catching us up. I phoned Phil just before we departed and confirmed we were both underway!
Considering how many years had lapsed since I last cycled this route, all the memories slowly came back to me. There was no need to consult my pre-prepared map. Rory and Daniel did an excellent job on the first series of ascents, Daniel especially considering that he hasn't really cycled for some years now.
After crossing the A25, the first climb revealed itself. Eventually we emerged in Sutton Abinger. I pointed out the Pub (the Volunteer?), but we quickly concluded it was too early for that and pressed on towards Holmbury Hill.
After some interesting riding we arrived at the Holmbury Hill summit. This was an opportunity to take some photos, drink some fluids and check out the Widow Maker (the very steep descent down the face of Holmbury Hill). The Widow Maker was not particularly suitable for mountain bikes now (it probably wasn't in my younger days either) so we opted for the alternative route down the hill.
After passing some horses, and almost having a high-speed collision with a cyclist on the wrong side of the road not looking where they were going, we re-grouped and descended the bridleway towards Leith Hill. This was the first proper high speed downhill and I think I heard Rory or Daniel shrieking behind me with excitement (well, I hope that's what it was!).
We then started our climb towards Leith Hill. Passing through Upholds Farm I was expecting a very muddy climb. However, recent renovations had resulted in a fantastic well drained bridleway. This made the following ascent that much bearable.
After some considerable climbing we arrived at the car park just below Leith Hill tower. It was at that point I looked down the hill with disbelief and saw Phil heading towards us with his dog! From there we all headed up to Leith Hill tower where we purchased refreshments and continued on towards Coldhabour.
At Coldharbour we re-hydrated with a pint from the Plough and said goodbye to Phil and Millie [Phil's dog]. We were now due our reward for all the previous hill climbing and set off on a well deserved down hill.
Eventually we arrived at the A25, crossed over and headed back to the start. All in all a very enjoyable 4 hours of riding in some of Surrey's best countryside!