Words and photos by Kate Davidson
Leading a ride can be a daunting prospect – what if everyone who promises to turn up doesn’t show? Here, though, the opposite was true – dozens of people I wasn’t expecting arrived, and they just kept on coming! What’s more, we had three brand new attendees in the form of newcomers Mark and Ruth, and our friend Mike – it was lovely to see Adrian again, with Ian also arriving just as we set off. We numbered 23 in the end, a superb turnout which I was thrilled with. Our big group snaked its way off through the forest with Dave acting as my back marker.
The Savernake trails are as familiar to me as the back of my hand, but it was so nice to share them with other members of the group. I’ve been adding various bits of singletrack to my forest explorations over the summer and this felt like one of the best routes so far, with a lovely flow to it.
Stopping briefly at the column, we then rode down through Durley, crossed the Burbage road and up Ram Alley to the byway which took us to Wootton Rivers. I wasn’t sure how the diversion to Wootton Rivers would work, as it wasn’t on my original plan and had to be shoehorned in at the last minute due to a pesky fence going up, but everyone seemed to appreciate the stop-off at the pub. After our break, we picked up the canal towpath for a mile or so, then made our way past Broomsgrove Farm and on towards to the road climb to Martinsell. This is a nasty, short little climb and, as is usually the case, most people shot past me.
We huffed and puffed our way up the hill to the car park, and along the track to the very top of the hill to enjoy the far-reaching views and have a drink and a snack – you can see for miles across the Pewsey Vale from here. The descent down Martinsell is a lot of fun if the cows aren’t in the way (and luckily, this time they were well out of it), with a chance to get some air over the humps and bumps, and that’s exactly what some of us did! Everyone seemed to like this bit and there were lots of smiling faces at the end.
We then headed across the road to Mud Lane – the start of this bridleway is a bit rough and brambly, but it soon opens out to a long, flowing track of around two miles long, and was another highlight of the ride – you can really get a decent speed up. Cutting through Hat Gate picnic site and crossing the road back into the forest, we turned left at the column and headed down the fire roads back to Postern Hill campsite. Luckily for us, an ice-cream van was blocking in many of our cars so some of the group felt obliged to have one!
I was grateful for the brilliant turn-out – thanks all for coming!