Compton Abbas Mid-Week Run







     
Southern Section diary
  Southern Section diary

Lunch at Compton Abbas
By Steve  Rickard
I am fairly new to the Club and have difficulty fitting in riding at weekends due to other family commitments, so weekday rides are best for me. I often ride with my brother-in-law, Richard, on his Triumph as he is also retired.
This particular day out started with a Whatsapp request from Martin Harper for anyone who may be interested in a weekday ride. He is also recently retired and looking to find some riding time. I replied that I was doing a day out with Richard and he was very welcome to join us. He replied “great” and a date was organized.
Mike and Lesley also replied in fairly short order that they were also interested.  At this point it looked like 4 bikes. 
As the day approached several others asked to join in and we arranged to meet at Alton Station Café. In the end 9 bikes turned up! I had never been leader on such a large group but was happy to do it, so off we went, with thanks to Mike for being tail end charlie. Mike then had the problem that he was at the rear and EVERY set of traffic lights in Alton turned red just as he arrived so he had a bit of catching up to do.
Compton Abbas Airfield in action
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Alton to Winchester is a great start road of mostly sweeping dual carriageways, so an easy settle-in for me, and the group handoff process seemed to work well. The large roundabout on top of the M3 with traffic lights was a bit of a worry but eventually we all got round it and set off for Salisbury. Anyone who knows the old A30 through Stockbridge and onto Salisbury will know what a pleasure this route is. The weather was perfect and the far-reaching views stunning in the height of summer. 
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Navigating a large group around the Salisbury ring road was a bit of a worry, but somehow everybody found the right route and we set off across the edge of Cannock Chase. No wonder it’s A.O.N.B, arriving at Compton Abbas for coffees, cakes, baguettes, chips, and chat, etc.  
Mark from Dorset joined us here as it was easier for him to go direct, and Larry had to leave at this time.
The loop around Salisbury Plain is well known to me as I used to live in Wiltshire and rode these a lot. Leaving Compton, the first challenge is Zig Zag hill (down) always a bit of fun, then across Cannock Chase towards Warminster, stopping for fuel on the way. Then the real fun bit, across Salisbury Plain towards Shrewton, an elevated route with fantastic views and signs warning of Tanks Crossing! Followed by a loop back towards Devizes seeing a line of tanks on the way, I suspect Ukrainian soldiers being trained.
Devizes then onto Upavon. I believe Upavon to be where the very first military aeroplanes were tried out to see if they had any battlefield use. I am told the local church cemetery has several graves from the first few brave pilots trying to fly a Wright brothers box kite.  
Again, this is a very elevated route with sweeping views across the plain. The Upavon Glider Club was flying as we passed.  What a view they must get.

The route ended at the Middle Wallop Museum of Army flying near Andover where we indulged in Ice Cream and Tea before all making our own way home. A very enjoyable ride and 211 miles by the time I got back home in Hindhead. Thanks to everyone who came, I’ll start thinking about another route very soon.
Zig-Zag Hill courtesy of Google Earth
Parking at Compton Abbas
As a footnote, this mid-week ride-out was organised using the Southern Section's short notice ride-out WhatsApp Group.  If the idea of a trip outside the confines of a weekend, or you just fancy a ride on the spur of the moment, please contact Erica to join the Group.