Sunday, 4 July 2010

Chatley Heath Semaphore Tower

The weather forecast for this weekend suggested that Saturday would be a better day for a ride than Sunday, but I've had the semaphore tower at Chatley Heath on my list of places to visit for a while, and it only opens one day a month, so I decided to face hotter and windier weather for the sake of the destination.

Chatley Heath Semaphore Tower is one of a line of semaphore towers that were used to send messages from the Admiralty in London to the navy in Portsmouth (a distance of about 70 miles). It was used from 1822-1848, and restored by Surrey County Council in 1989. They have displays and models to show how it all worked. As you would expect there are good views from the top of the tower.

I rode out through Datchett, Staines, Shepperton and Weybridge, taking the passenger ferry from Shepperton to Weybridge. I came back through Ripley, Woking and Ascot, with a bit of a diversion in Woking on a whim to follow the Basingstoke Canal for a few miles.

The whole area around Chatley Heath is very thoroughly mapped on OSM, and there is nothing I can add from today's outing. Indeed without thorough coverage on OSM and the Cycle Map I wouldn't have discovered that the best way to approach the tower on a bike is from Pointers Road on the other side of the M25. The map showed me a local cycle route (E2) which runs from Weybridge, and makes a very neat negotiation around the junction between the A3 and M25. I could never have worked that out for myself, and would otherwise have avoided that route.

As predicted the day was quite hot, and the wind was a bit blustery. Apart from a few minor glitches, all went according to plan for total of 64 miles, and an unusual, but worthwhile destination.

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