Cycle Ride with Dad (27th February 2008)
Not often I spend time with my dad since we both work a lot. So this was a rare event.
From leaving our driveway to arriving back at it, we were gone about 1 hour 30 minutes.
Left at about 2:30pm and joined the Basingstoke Canal. Turning left (East), we followed it through Fleet to the overflow. It’s been raining quite a lot so the water was pouring over the whole way across. This prevents the canal from bursting its banks.
Dad wasn’t sure how far he wanted to go. I described how we could take the route I took a couple of days, but in reverse. He thought reaching the next overflow would be far enough, so we rode onwards.
The next overflow has a gate where the level is controlled. Water was dribbling over the wall at a few points and really rushing through the gate. Showed dad the pool and stream.
At this point I got a call from work! Dad went off to find the other end of a drainage pipe which was connected to the pool. After the call ended he showed me the most likely option: the original sluce gate next to the overflow. We share an interest in construction; mine is towards computers whilst his is towards metalwork.
We continued towards the bridge at Pyestock, which can be seen from the second overflow. The path to it exits on the left of the towpath a long way before the bridge, since it’s a very high bridge. Even so, riding up the path was much steeper than I expected! We both got up it and rested at the top for a bit.
The path forked ahead of us. I thought I took the route on the left. Dad thought the route on the right was a better choice, as it was heading towards the road more directly. We went right. After a while, it looked like a dead end.
We stopped and prepared to turn back. I decided to check the end for certain. It did actually reach the road, but you could only see that when you got right to the end! I had completely missed this tiny gap through the fence where it joined the road 2 days before.
We rejoined the road and I could see the gap I had gone through further down. That must lead to the path on the left of the fork; so both options reach the road. It’s very difficult to get lost round here because the paths take sensible routes.
Turning right, we rode over the bridge, crossing to the other side of the canal.
The military use this ground for their training, so there are lots of gravel roads and troop paths. We followed a track which ran more or less alongside the tarmac road between Pyestock and Fleet. It was far enough into the forest that the traffic was just a quiet hum.
The route had some nice downhill sections and we quickly reached a small car park. We turned right onto a troop path and headed deeper into the forest.
After a while we reached a T-junction with a gravel track which was going up a steep hill. I recognised this from 2 days ago. After a bit of head-scratching I figured we wanted to go down it. This soon turned out to be correct as I recognised the deep ditches full of water on either side.
We rode over a cattle grid and reached another car park, the The Foresters pub. We rested a while at a sign for the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. It used an angular cartoon type of style and was credited to Greg Poole, by IRI rather than name.
Back Towards Fleet
The road was alongside us again as we rode behind the Foresters to the next car park. At this point we reached a navigational dillema.
- I knew how to get back home via the roads. But the roads are kind of busy and not picturesque. Riding on roads is basically commuting, not recreation.
- There is a path which runs between the edge of the forest and the edge of the town. I wasn’t certain how far down this we would need to go before turning left into the town. Or even if turning left into the town was possible.
The roads seemed a pretty bleak option. The path seemed a lot more adventurous and fun, so that’s what we did.
Coasting down the path was pleasant. It was steep enough to maintain a good speed without pedalling whilst being gentle enough to avoid braking. But there were no exits on the left. After going down it for what seemed like too far, we eventually found a residential road from Fleet which terminated on the left.
Towards Basingborne Park
The road ended at one of the busy road we wanted to avoid. Just opposite was Basingbourne Road, precisely the road we wanted. We waited for a clear gap before crossing over to it.
Another gentle slope led to the roundabout near the park. We rode across this and turned right, into the car park. We went down to the drop kerb at the bottom and onto the path which runs past my old playschool.
There’s a short, sharp slope down to an old wooden bridge. It must have been there for 20 years or more; I remember it being there when I attended the playschool. This leads directly onto the route I time myself around, although we were going in the opposite direction.
The paths exits the woods into a cul-de-sac at the North of the loop I live on. We got onto the loop, rode up the hill, turned right and then coasted down to our house.
When I was little, my dad seemed to know everything worth knowing about. Now I know lots of stuffs about stuff, too. The relationship between my dad and I has been bad at times. A couple of years ago it was more or less ruined. It took quite a while for that to happen. It has taken much longer to piece it back together.
We’re in a much better place now, chatting and chuckling like old times.