Having spotted this road sign on my way to Market Harborough the other day, I mapped out a 40 mile cycle route exploring to the North of where I’m staying and of course starting out with Old Dry Lane (North).
Best laid plans and all that…
The first bit went okay: I found the South end of Old Dry Lane, and the ghost middle part of Old Dry Lane (looks like it came a cropper when the A road was built, maybe?) turned out to be a bridleway and passable by bike.
I got myself across the A6116 without incident, and found what was left of the original line on the North side.
Hmmm, bit of a dumping ground it seems.
The plan then was to keep going up the lane and then turn right and use a track to link up to Benefield Road. I started hitting signs saying ‘private road’ though. There was a ‘bridleway’ sign right next to it, but in between noticing each sign, I also managed to stop and ask a dogwalker if it was possible for me to get through if I kept going that way.
I was just following a line on my Garmin, so I couldn’t give him any useful information about where I was trying to get to, but he did suggest I back up a bit, and take the track through the woods as that would be a better surface than going straight on (which would have me going across fields).
I felt it would be in the spirit of exploration to follow his suggestion, so I got onto the track and had a nice little off-road ride through the woods. I decided I didn’t want to go as far as Weldon, so turned right and tried to rejoin onto my original planned route.
This looked good for a few minutes, but then I came to a gate with signs saying it was private access only, so I had to turn back to the A road. “No problem”, I thought, just a short stretch, then I can turn left up Benefield Road and get back onto my original route in no time.
Benefield Road goes under the A6116! I had to keep going, back to the footbridge into Brigstock for a lap of honour and then try again…
I really enjoyed the gated road coming out of Lower Benefield, however I kind of get the feeling someone else was less happy about it.
It seemed to be a road that was only reluctantly open as a right of way. The signs seemed to be saying “Well, go on then, but don’t say we didn’t warn you…”
I wimped out of doing the full 40 miles in the end – the previous night’s excitements and the earlier diversions having got the better of me. I hadn’t planned for it to be another ride on the theme of gatekeepers and permissions, nor to be another exercise in being misplaced, but I like how exploring by bicycle reveals the sorts of inconsistencies that are usually hidden to you when you’re driving a car. I also like how bikes are generally very accommodating of plans going a bit different.
I’m not sure if I’ll have time to get another ride in before I leave, but I feel my bike trips so far have shown and taught me a lot. So many unanswered questions though! I want to know about the Old Dry Hills!