Surrey Hills and Winterfold Forest

Surrey Hills is an area just south east of London, known for it's scenic views from forested hilltops.  The hills form part of the larger North Downs, which is a range of hills which runs east west, parallel to the South Downs. The past few times I'd visited Surrey Hills I mostly stuck to the area around Dorking and Box Hill, both of which are well known cyclist haunts for those in the London and Southeastern region.  I had also ridden in the North Downs further east, which was more into Kent, famous for it's oast houses for drying hops.  Each region is ever so slightly different from the other.

This time I decided to head slightly west near Guildford and through a few forests.  As expected, this was a hilly ride, they don't call it Surrey Hills because it's flat... This was a reasonably short ride, however the scenery was second to none.

You can still see we're still in the depths of winter, spring is slowly peeking it's head around the corner ever so slowly.  There is something quite beautiful about the green overgrown moss wafting over bare tree trunks sticking starkly out of the ground.  It wasn't too cold, however most of the day there was a very light misty rain which hung around like an unwanted guest.  Luckily I had a waterproof jacket and overshoes, however my old gloves proved that they weren't so waterproof anymore.

By coincidence there was a triathlon event at the same time going on the same route as me, except in the opposite direction.  There were quite a few very tired looking people...

Particularly here, at the top of White Down Lane, which is a steep climb, probably about 18% for about 1km or so.  Many of the triathlon competitors had to walk it.

After descending down this steep hill I rolled into Peaslake, a cute little town.  Unluckily for me, I started feeling a dreaded sharp thump from my back wheel every time I hit a large bump... it was losing air.  I stopped at to change my tube, the flat was caused by a small flint which had made its way through my tire.  The amount of flats I get with these Challenge Strada Biancas is just getting tiresome (excuse the pun), despite how nicely the ride they are just too fragile.

 Now, after fixing the flat, I ascended up Radnor road up into Riding copse and was greeted by trees swimming in a swirling winter mist.  Peaslake was a hive of MTB activity and there were plenty of trails around here.

Then around the corner was Winterfold forest. It felt like a near magical place with the mist floating around, a bit of a reward for getting to the top of the hill, and a fair trade for warm summery sunshine.  This mist might not be here next time I visit.


The last leg of the ride was through Blackheath forest, which was used more for logging.  It was quite a barren landscape, a contrast from Winterfold forest.  One appeared only very lightly touched by humans, the other felt like it had been made by humans.  Blackheath forest had this slightly eerie feeling, like it was a battlefield from WWI or something similar, complete with smouldering piles dotted around the place.

One thing I did learn, as you can see from the picture above is that road style clipless pedals don't like mud.  Once I got a little bit of mud on mine they would refuse to stay clipped in, this doesn't happen with MTB style cleats.  I already partly knew this but sometimes you never learn.  Thanks for reading.


  1. Yeah, nice tires that flat easily are not my cup o' tea, either. I had some Panaracer Col de La Vies on my Raleigh Wayfarer. While the lightweight tire gave a nice ride, I tired of the constant punctures. So back to Schwalbe Delta Cruisers...