Sometimes it only takes getting out of London for the day to make you really feel like you’ve had a break at the weekend. And luckily, there are plenty of great places to visit inside of the M25.
The Sevenoaks train from Blackfriars can take you and your bike to a number of picturesque Kent towns within an hour. The only trouble is choosing where to start! Last weekend we took on the Shoreham Loop, a circular ride of about 20 miles. It’s perfect for a leisurely Sunday, with plenty of waterholes along the route to quench one’s thirst and soak up the afternoon sun.
Get off the train at Shoreham, and glide swiftly through this quaint little town with its higgledy-piggledy cottages overlooking the river, and you reach the open countryside. Your nostrils immediately revel in the fresh warm air and your legs enjoy the space to cycle free from traffic. This ride is along the road, so there’s no need for any high tech gear or off road bikes, but as there tends to be fairly few cars around at the weekends you feel like you and your fellow cyclists can monopolise the roads.
The route is generally flat, and passes through a delightful variety of scenery, from undulating meadows and blue-bell filled copses, to open fields lined with overgrown elderflower, observed only by stoic farmhouses and aged oak trees. There are numerous villages to pass through, each with their own style and a handful of invitingly charming pubs with even more inviting beer gardens.
We stopped off in Farningham, a particularly delightful town whose highlight for us was the Lion Hotel, where a weary traveller can rest their legs, stoke up with some pub grub and real ale, and best of all, dip their toes into the River Darent, which flows deliciously clear and cool beside the pub’s plethora of picnic tables.
For those without a bike, hire one for the day from our shop in Gabriel’s Wharf, which happens to be conveniently within spitting distance of Blackfriars station where the train to Shoreham departs. Or, if your bike is in need of a little TLC before taking on this epic ride, bring it along to our repair shop in Waterloo to get it back up to spec.