Plan C: Bristol – Marlborough – Bramley – Withyham (150 miles)

Back from our camping trip we headed out just five days later. Originally the plan had been to tour Northern Spain on our bikes for two weeks. Cancelled due to uncertainty about being able to go and rebooked to one week Northern Ireland. At least we thought we are fairly certain to be able to go since it’s the UK. May 24 easing of restrictions still demanded a 10 day quarantine upon arrival so we had to cancel once more just to have time to book something else.

So instead of Europe, instead of UK we’re staying as local as England for a week. Staying away from the tourist hotspots of Cornwall and Devon we opted for the South East and today rode in glorious sunshine ever East from Bristol to near Royal Tunbridge Wells in Kent in the High Weald AONB.

Started at 11 am from our home in Bristol on our pretty much brand new bikes. Mine had just had its run in service, Rich’s not. Being mid-40s we’re both now on touring bikes purely for comfort but with all the power of 160bhp and 200bhp respectively.

Ready to go!

Rode the first hour on A roads to beautiful Marlborough and stopped for a coffee as we always do when going that way. It’s just a lovely place for a stop with a couple of nice cafes, shops and pubs most if not all in probably listed buildings and many motorbikes rumbling past.

Marlborough

I really like Wiltshire roads as they are wide and corners long and sweeping. This makes for plenty of good opportunities to overtake and gain confidence and experience on my big bike. Did a few really good ones and Rich was pleased how much of a better rider I had become since having my XR.

Next stop was Newbury for petrol then off into the rolling hills of Hampshire. We chose an “up and over” B road Rich had done before, missed our turn off halfway through and went 7 miles into the wrong direction before turning around, then missed the turn off again on the way back as the satnav sent us a different way than intended. Hard stop, u-turn and finally on the right way.

More rolling countryside, a few dual carriageway A roads and then smaller country roads as we entered splendid Surrey. Wow, the houses left and right as we rode along where as stunning as they where huge. Some serious money around here.

Stopped for a coffee in Bramley after an hour and 20mins in the saddle. Nice little cafe and a lovely chap behind the counter. Had a little chat with a very friendly local motorbike enthusiast as we were leaving who was asking about our tour and bikes of course.

Coffee and Bramley

Fantastic roads followed with gentle corners as we skirted the border of South Downs National Park and a very “English” landscape with rolling hills and green fields interspersed with woodland.

Just after 5pm we arrived at The Dorset Arms in High Weald AONB. What a nice location! More “English” landscape all around and a busy but relaxed atmosphere.

Great find, The Dorset Arms

Checked in, unloaded the bikes, showered and then food and drinks. Isn’t it funny, that we tend to our bikes like the heroes in stories tend to their horses. We really want to put them somewhere safe, unload the saddle bags, make sure all is good, give them a little pat on the tank, then put the blanket on and one last glance before we leave them for the night.

Sat in the garden and had a brilliant meal. Holiday! Ah. Really felt very relaxed and happy for the first time in a very long time. Although we did miss our little boy a lot. Being in touch with his “hostess” helped though and we knew he was safe and having lots of fun with his brother and playing with pet lambs.

BMW baby!!!
Duck Magret. Wow!
Doesn’t get more “English” than this, right?

Great start to our trip. What a lovely place we’ve found. Sunday will be about pottering around on lighter bikes, taking the long route to Brighton for fish and chips and a ride along the beach promenade.

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