Sunday, 16 August 2009

Wey to go

There are a few good canals within reach of home for me and the bike: the Grand Union, which I've followed up through Rickmansworth; and the Kennet and Avon which I've followed beyond Reading. On this week's long outing I followed an earlier one: the Wey Navigation which runs from the Thames at Weybridge, to Guildford.

I had reached Weybridge along the Thames path, and I returned home from Guildford with a dash up the A322; trying (unsuccessfully) to get home in time for dinner.

I'm fairly clear now about my preferred route to Weybridge. There was a slight glitch in Staines today because they had closed off the Thames path for some reason, so a bunch of us on bikes diverted through the town centre. Apart from that all was straightforward to the ferry at Shepperton, then the fun of taking the bike across the river to Weybridge.

From the ferry I had to hunt out the point where the Wey Navigation leaves the Thames and heads off for Guildford. It didn't look entirely clear on the map, but in practice it wasn't difficult to find.

The navigation is a very early canal, that now belongs to the National Trust. It was built in 1650, and runs from Weybridge to Guildford. An extension to Godalming was added about a hundred years later.

The towpath is quite narrow, and bumpy, and today it was quite busy, so progress was a bit slow. They allow bikes, but I'm not sure they actively encourage them, because of the number of walkers. I would recommend it - though it's probably a better ride on a mountain bike than a road bike. My hybrid and I coped, but neither of us was really designed for this.

Today was a beautiful, day, and its a lovely ride. There is the occasional point of interest, including a view of a ruined priory; this old mill converted into flats; and some fancy graffiti under the motorway.

The only trouble with the route is that I ended up in Guildford. Not that I have anything against Guildford - it seems a very pleasant town, with quite an impressive high street. The trouble is that I don't know a decent route home from there. Today I just belted up the A322, which is a very indifferent experience. Perhaps I'll figure out something better in future.

By the time I got home I had covered 64 miles. That brings my Eddington number up to 40; and this bike and I have covered over 5,000 miles together. From today, I'll try to forget the return journey, and remember the navigation.


Gregory Marler said...

Have you tried discovering potential routes with the routing on (OpenStreetMap data)?

I usually expect a time between the shortest and scenic routes it gets, and go vaugly along one of the routes.

gom1 said...

Thanks Gregory, I hadn't thought of that, but I've just tried it. To plan it in one hop is just too far for CycleStreets to calculate at present, but if I ask it to plan in stages the fastest route is pretty much the same as the one I followed, but the quietest route comes up with some interesting ideas. Good thinking.