Saturday, 21 June 2014

Swing Park, Sweet Chariot

beach by fort cumberland eastney sewage outflow pipeToday is the day the sun stood still so we got out our little model of Stonehenge and did a little dance around it with Mistletoe and woad and freshly squeezed virgin juice.
But in reality, he woke me up at 1030, a most gentlemanly time. After a nourishing omelette I decided our agenda: the 12-miler.
hayling swing park Just 2 days ago I took delivery of a new velocipede and one has to try these things out: the 12-miler is a bike ride up the old Hayling Billy Trail (disused railway line, now a bike track and bridleway, on Hayling Island) where you have to get the Hayling Ferry over there, and the train back from Havant.
western coastline of hayling island by billy line trailI have done this ride before and jolly pleasant it is too. In Bransbury Park I met Charlotte and Genevieve from my old school and we pressed on to the ferry where we discovered it was on its lunch break, getting more petrol no doubt.
So we had 50 minutes to kill at low tide and we went to see our dam. This is a really big pile of rocks that our entire family has been working on for months and we found that the sea liked our idea and had covered our dam in a damn great pile of shingle. It made the rockpool even better.
The revitalised ferry turned up on time and took us to Hayling. Stopping off at the park for a bite to eat, I tried the bucket swings which are quite comfortable as I only have a small bum.
salterns on hayling island tidal basinsAt the base of the old railway is one of those stunt-cycle courses with slopes and hills and I always like to have a run around it, I'm not good enough to ride around it.
On the bridleway I stopped off to climb the Dead Oak: it was growing happily until the earth around it was washed away by wave action: however it retains some roots growing sideways into the adjacent barleyfield and so survives in reduced fashion.
mudflats at low tide off hayling islandThen we stopped at Crab Gulch but the tide was still out (so no crabs) so we made a dam with some logs, as you do. Lots of Samphire is available if you're a cordon bleu chef (your name should be Gordon Blue) but we didn't pick any.
The Ship Inn sits by the entrance to Northney Marina and every year it serves us fish'n'chips to die for. We polished our plates and didn't die.
eastern road bridge to portsea islandNow this is where I was fooled. Normally we carry on up the old railway track and get the train back. But he said O if you don't go that far, there's a cycle route all the way back across the top of Langstone Harbour and down the Eastern Road, you'll be laughing. Now of course that's true - but gross misrepresentation because if you don't get the train, you travel the distance by leg-power. So we went right through his workplace, laboured up the mountain that is the old land-fill site and got into 6th gear going down the hill by the motorway slip-road, which I loved.
By the time we got to the Eastern Road bridge, I was mildly tired and the wind decided to blow right in my face at 700 mph and I got slower and slower until grannies and caterpillars were overtaking me. But finally I got home after a mere 5 1/2 hours of investigation and I had cycled 16 miles on my new bike.
Now that's what I call a good day.

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