Friday 27 December 2019

Rapha Festive 500 - Park Life tour: Day 4, Knole Park

Kms ridden: 85
Running total: 270
Kms left: 230

Weather: Cold and cloudy; 7 degC

Parks: Lullingstone Country; Knole; High Elms Country

Route on Strava

Knole House, home of the Sackville West family, in Knole Park
Today's weather was not anything to write home about. It was cloudy and cold, but the fact that there was no rain was a blessing - especially after the torrent from yesterday.

My featured park of the day was Knole Park, a very pleasant deer park just south of Sevenoaks.

It's got the same feel as Richmond Park - undulating ancient parkland with deer, a stately home (owned by the Sackville-West family, of Bloomsbury fame), lots of walkers, and a big car park.

If the road through the park was wider and did a full unbroken circuit of the park I suspect there would be more cyclists there. But I think the National Trust, who manage the park I much too savvy to allow that! Instead, there is a relatively narrow road which gets quite congested with two-way traffic, and a car park that gets a bit overcrowded as all of Kent descends on this green space during holiday periods.

Still, it is a very pleasant place to be, and when I manage to get as far as here on my bike it's quite a treat. 

While in the park, a BBC Radio 5 Live reporter, Lesley Ashmall stopped me and asked me about my bike riding. She was doing a piece on how people feel the need to get out and be active after spending Christmas sitting in front of the telly, stuffing themselves with lots of chocolates and biscuits.

I didn't really want to blow her report out of the water by saying I'd cycled over 100 miles over the last few days, so I just gave an answer around how nice it is to be in the park and I was hoping to be able to make it back to London by bike. She was impressed with my ride and was quite chatty. The show aired on the early evening radio show, so I listened out for my vox pop.

Interestingly, for all the interviewing the reporter did with me, the editors only actually used one sentence from our conversation! It reminds me of the episode of Gavin and Stacey when Mick Shipman (played by Larry Lamb) is interviewed for a news programme. All his family and friends make a big occasion of staying in to watch his 15 minutes of fame on TV to see him, but in the end the broadcast included barely four words from his interview 20-minute interview. Oh well, 5 seconds of fame it is then!

As for the ride, it was a good day out with some quality miles put in. The hardest parts of my ride were on two hills - both called Old Hill. The first Old Hill was in Chislehurst, a road which I regularly ride. It's only a short hill, but it has a stiff gradient and the road is quite narrow, meaning motorists often have to stop and give way to me as I grind up the road. Thankfully they are quite patient, and sympathetic!

The other Old Hill is near Cudham - also a narrow steep road, but on a one-way street. This is slightly more manageable than its counter part in Chislehurst, but as I was tackling the hill towards the end of my ride it was that bit tough for me.

A notable nice area of the ride was around Eynsford where I passed Lullingstone Castle, and then later, Knatts Valley. Along this area there were hardly any motorists and the area was wild and desolate with the odd farm house or oast house dotted around.

Today was also a day where I saw a number of cyclists along different parts of the route. This is a popular area for South London based clubs - not just for the beauty and the quietness of the roads, but also for the undulating roads which are great for training. I definitely felt like I'd worked when I arrived home.

Related posts
Rapha Festive 500 - Park Life tour: Day 3, Beckenham/Croydon

Rapha Festive 500 - Park Life tour: Day 2, East/Central London

Rapha Festive 500 - Park Life tour: Day 1, Richmond Park

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