I enjoyed the journey with my bike from Tring station, changed at Clapham Junction for Hastings, where I met up with a friend, Margaret, to cycle around the historic Cinque Ports. Gosh, we had a climb out of Hastings on our way to our first overnight stop, Tenterden. Our route took us through Beckley Woods, awash with wild spring flowers and the River Rother valley. Tenterden, known as the Jewel of the Weald, has beautiful architecture including white painted weather boarding and tile hung facades. After a fairly tough ride in the wind and rain, we enjoyed a comfortable night in one of the local hostelries. As it was still raining the next morning, we struggled on to Faversham and in the afternoon sunshine enjoyed a cup of tea at a cafe near the tidal creek which was once busy with Thames barges taking produce up to London. Faversham is also the home of Shepherd Neame brewery, a good pint it was too! Then, to Margate with a visit to the new Turner Gallery, the local museum, and craft shops in The Old Town. Now on the Viking Trail we continued to Ramsgate. Ramsgate has the most “listed” buildings in Kent and a busy marina. Sometimes taking the excellent train service to avoid the worst of the downpours we visited Sandwich, Deal, Dover, and Folkestone. From Folkestone, it was a lovely ride through Lower Leas Gardens, to Sandgate and then to Hythe. Here we decided to try the “Romney,Hythe &Dymchurch Railway, an engine called “Hercules” puffed its way to New Romney with us on board and our bikes in its guard’s van. We enjoyed some sunshine cycling through Old Romney, across the marsh to Lydd then on to Camber Sands into a strong headwind, arriving in Rye late afternoon. Had a great time looking around its quaint streets, visiting St Mary’s Church, the Strand Quay, and finally to our B&B at The Windmill, just across the railway line. Our last day took us through Winchelsea, Fairlight and back to Hastings. There is a horrible hill up to Fairlight Church, especially with panniers. Margaret decided enough was enough and spotted a local taxi service which she duly hired to take her on to Hastings. After some considerable recovery time at the top of the hill I cycled down into the town.
Hastings is definitely on the “up” I had a good look around the restored fisherman’s huts on the beach, the local museum, and the new Jerwood Gallery. The gallery is part of a landmark redevelopment at the Stade, a historic part of Hastings Old Town, then, quickly found the station for my journey home.
This 150 mile circular ride is made up of NCR1, NCR2,The Viking Trail, The Oyster Trail. We used the relevant OS Maps and most important of all a route book “Cinque Ports Circuit” devised by the CTC which, where possible, follows designated cycle routes and avoids major roads. Available from Hastings Tourist Information Centre: www.visithastings.com £4.95.
April 2012 Angela Feaviour