Led by Hazel Ross, Words by Debbie Davies
17th April, 13 Miles
Hazel had managed to arrange the most amazing weather for her ride. We congregated in the car park of the Divine Café next to Cherhill village for a 10.30 start. The cars just kept coming, finally making us a crew of 12. A fabulous turnout for the promise of wonderful views and a great café stop.
After a ride briefing by Hazel of the type of terrain we were likely to meet we set off through the village towards our first bridleway and the normal divity surface that nearly always greets you after a winter of horse hooves. We started picking our way up the hill to a little copse that gave some easier riding as it climbed. There was a special piece of steep, slippery track that Hazel assured us they all pedalled on her recce. We all pushed this time!
Remounting when it levelled out a little, we carried on up a tree-lined trail that opened up to a grass farm track that gave us the first hints of the Monumental part of the ride. The view to Cherhill Monument was stunning if not a little hazy from the misty morning sun . At this point there was a small breather and photo opportunities, where apparently there were 2 deer running, not sure where I was looking at that point!
We carried on to a really pretty village road that skirted around some old buildings that was once RAF Yatesbury . This was the first piece of level smooth ground in a while and we all ate it up. It was at this point we were given the choice of a direct and easy route to the café or the scenic rutty section to Windmill Hill Plantation. We went hard-core and picked the scenic route, good choice! A lovely descent of gravel trails took us to Avebury and our pit stop. Such beautiful weather meant we could all group outside and enjoy the warm sun as we ate, such a treat in April as we had earlier woken to frosts.
After being fed and watered and a little interruption to the restart in the form of a speedy puncture repair we made the final effort up to the Cherhill Monument. All the bridleways went upwards but each one promised a little more of what was to come. We must all be getting fitter as there was very little pushing along the final slope and the truly spectacular vista. The hazy sky had gone and the sun shone on every hill, to become one of the loveliest rest stops we have had. A 360-degree view of the surrounding valleys gave even more photo time and with the help of a photographic degree student several group shots were taken, at least three of our cameras passed over to capture the moment.
We were then promised the most exciting grassy descent back down to the road. Hazel briefed us on the lay of the land and we split into two groups, those that were tackling the steepest side and those that wanted a smoother descent – but only just.
All made it down safely, not necessarily in the planned way! The odd bit of walking or hasty sideways exit but without any damage and lots of admiration all round for tackling something quite different.
All too soon, after the descent, we were making our way back down a short stretch of road and into the car park. Just time for another cake stop with homemade cakes this time before we all drove home, or nearly all. Sharon had decided to ride home with her husband who came to meet us at the end.
Many thanks to Hazel for putting on a fantastic ride and to Sharon for back marking, and to Tash , Sandra , Claire , Denise , Jane, Debbie, Jen , Caroline and Gabriella for joining us.