We left home in heavy snow, arrived at Southend Victoria where we managed to get the tandem into the train in once piece, and took some photographs of South Essex looking very white indeed.
On arriving at Liverpool Street we left via the Enormous Iron Monolith and made our way through more heavy snow via the Holborn Viaduct and Blackfriars Bridge into Stamford Street. From there, we used Upper Ground and Belvedere Road, which gave easy access to Waterloo Station. We had just missed the 11.05 but were in plenty of time to drink coffee, eat a pastie and catch the 11.35.
The South-western trains were relatively luxurious. We had to dismantle the tandem but had no difficulty storing it in the area provided for 3 bikes, and we found that the seats were comfortable and the lavatory worked satisfactorily. By the time we arrived at Winchester the sun was shining and most of the snow had gone.
After some fiddling around with the one-way system near the station we eventaully found ourselves on the Sarum Road and begun the long haul out of the town towards very pleasant countryside. There was not a great deal of traffic about and we made steady progress towards Braishfield, where we found the Newport Inn, but were informed by the landlord, who had emerged in blue overalls in order to work on his car, that the pub had just closed. We asked if it was OK to use the loos, which is was, and while we were part-way through a sardine sandwich the landlord reappeared bearing two half-pint glasses full of what looked very much like beer. “These are on the house!” said he, and we consumed what I believe to have been George Gale’s HSB.
On teh way to Kimbridge I lost track of the route on the map but for onceI had correctly programmed the GPS and it knew the way. We traversed the Test and took some photographs of a very fine river. You can always tell that you have left south-east England when the rivers look as though they mean it. We then headed south towards Furzley and entered the New Forest at Blackhill. At one point we saw a treecreeper alight on a telegraph pole, and we also witnessed a pair of greater spotted woodpeckers involved in some kind of aerial ritual.
From near Bramshaw I texted Jeff to say that we were about 8 miles out, although it was probably nearer 10, but we had a sharp climb to the Roger Penny Way and we continued upwards to an exposed plateau where the NW wind was impeding our progress to the extent that, when the road did flatten out, we were unable to exceed 8 mph.
After Hale, we had a chilly, swooping descent into Woodgreen, during which the snow started again. Then came a final climb to the B & B which we found easily, even though it was situated in an unmade road. We arrived around 5.30 and after unpacking and showering, went to the Horse and Groom for well-earned food and beer.