Part of the key ethos of the (leader of the) Monday Rides is to use unexplored byways and bridleways. On the Downs, this is ideal – there is a close network of tracks generally pretty solid most of the year. But go further afield and this is not the case. Off-road tracks are discontinuous, albeit joined by quiet country roads, and believe it or not, much used by Horses. This results in winter use creating a pattern of deep hoof prints – up to 15 cms across and about as deep. This makes for interesting, exciting and hard riding. But many of the better tracks have a good surface and pass through gorgeous countryside.
From there, a 3km gentle descent brought us to the fourth bridleway. This started well through open woodland but then we lost it and ploughed merrily around in a boggy field (which cleaned the mud off our tyres) until we returned to high ground, removed the fallen tree that had put us off the right track and resumed our route west via another short bridleway to the Cuckoo Trail. Then, joy, oh joy, a fast gentle 4 km descent to the carpark at Hellingly.
It was only 19 miles but involved some real challenges and a tremendous variety of scenery and terrain. On checking Strava, I was surprised to see that some sectors had been previously ridden, but we saw no tyre tracks . . .