I’ve been for a 10 mile tour of Maidstone, which has some very unfriendly areas for cycling. Much of this is due to the geography: the Medway is quite a big river with only two bridges crossing it within Maidstone itself. To the north, the next bridge is the M20 at which point the Medway becomes tidal and to the south at East Farleigh there is a long handsome stone road bridge which is only one vehicle wide. This is about two miles outside the town. The town centre is dominated by a nasty gyratory, three or four lanes wide, using the two bridges. My daughter’s house is in the Fant area of the town, across the river from the town centre and quite close to where the A20 and the A26 make a further gyratory, so it’s quite inconvenient to get to the town centre by bike. I resorted to pavement riding, which mostly meant pedestrian speeds because the pavements are so narrow.
Eventually I explored Mote Park, a large area of open space on the east side of the town. There is quite a network of cyclepaths in there, and it would be possible to do quite a few miles within the park without covering the same ground too much, but it would be a bit boring. I settled for circumnavigating the lake, and that alone involved the best part of two miles’ cycling. After that I found that by far the best way back to my daughters’ was to go straight through the town centre. I took a short detour through Whatman Park, which I thought was much more attractive as it is more secluded and has the Medway along its western side. One of the railway lines that serve Maidstone is on the other side and it’s not possible to leave the park to the north as the river and the railway cut you off. I had to go out the way I came in, and then I found my way to Waitrose along local cycle route no. 12, which goes alongside one of the railway lines from the Buckland Hill area.
After leaving Waitrose I used the A20 and the A26 (Bower Mount Road links the two) and it was a lovely ride in as it’s nearly all down hill.