Aldermarston Picnic Run

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  Southern Section diary

After a wet weekend in Yeovil we looked at the weather forecast and decided to lead a rideout to make the most of the fine weather promised for the next weekend.
So, with our usual combination of My Route, local knowledge and (most important) paper maps, we set about devising a route. The main criteria for a place to meet and a destination were plenty of space for parking plus food, drink and loos. We decided to start at The Departure Lounge café on the A339, and ride to Paices Wood Country Parkland in Aldermaston - both places we had visited several times and we knew that they fitted the bill.
'Varied' road surfaces made it interesting
Although our destination is less than 30 miles from the start point, the route we planned wove through 70 miles of Hampshire and Berkshire backroads.
A couple days of days before the ride we had to re-think the start point (giant boot sale in the field by the Departure Lounge), so we had to hastily contact everyone to let them know that we would meet at Alton Station.
Sunday morning was bright and sunny and everyone arrived in plenty of time. With seventeen riders however, we decided to split into two groups. We led the first group with new member Steve Haffenden acting as sweep rider, followed a few minutes later by Erica leading group two with Larry as sweep.
Our route took us north on the A339 towards Basingstoke, before turning south on the winding road through the Candovers to New Alresford. A very short stretch on the A31 took us round New Alresford to join the back roads north of Winchester and through Whitchurch, Overton, and Kingsclere to our destination next to the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment. Erica’s group arrived only a few moments after group one.
Staying away from the coast meant that we had avoided the horrendous traffic of a warm bank holiday Sunday and we were able to enjoy the leafy lanes, sleepy country villages and far-reaching views of the minor roads of Hampshire (and a little bit of Berkshire). The only disappointment in the day was when we discovered that the burger van at Paices Wood was closed. We’ve been here several times recently and it has always been open. So sorry.
Give a GS rider a bit of grass and they're off!
A great turn out for the day's ride
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It was good that we were finally able to ride as a group, to meet old friends and to welcome several new ones. Thanks to everyone who took part, some travelling significant distances to reach the start point. Garry had even travelled from the south of the Isle of Wight – a time-consuming and expensive journey.

Hope to see you all again soon.

Thanks to Lesley Smith for the words and pictures

A view of one of the beautiful lanes en-route
Watership Down and not a rabbit in sight