More Exercise

I’m not sure how long I can keep it up, but I decided on Saturday that I needed to take more exercise. Partly because I’ve put on a pound or two in weight, partly because of the example of a friend who reported he was going for a cycle ride every weekday and partly because I now have not just one re-usable facemask but two, one an expensive cycling mask and the other a rather nattier model, sent me by one of my daughter-in-laws made by a shop local to her, fabric with a camera motif, and I felt I should make use of these.

So on Sunday I went with Linda for a uneventful several mile stroll around our largest local open space, exploring some of its most remote corners (and inadvertently surprising a young couple embracing in the undergrowth who leapt up guiltily smoothing down clothing as we walked past.) As you can see above it was really crowded, with two family groups visible in the scene.

Someone’s dog not observing social distancing

And on Monday I went out on the Brompton for a longish but fairly leisurely ride, in part exploring the lower reaches of one of our many local rivers, the Ash, continuing a small local photographic project I’ve applied myself to occasionally through the lockdown. It’s taken me to small corners and green spaces I’d previously not been aware of. The pictures below are from this ride.

The Ash flows into this Thames backwater close to here

Tuesday was time for some more serious cycling on a bigger bike with no stops for taking pictures, and I made a start on the first of a series of several roughly ten-mile circuits starting from home. There are a number of constraints, some geographic, others self-imposed to these rides. As far as possible I’m trying to avoid both busy roads and poor off-road surfaces -which both slow you down and tire you out – though some of our roads are now hardly better with rough surfaces and needing a constant watch to avoid the many potholes.

This area has the Thames running through it, with few bridges and a towpath that in parts gets too crowded for cycling. Motorways – the M25 and M4 are also barriers, and there are large reservoirs and former gravel workings which have caused road closures and diversions.

Tuesday’s ride took me around gravel pits to Wraysbury and around the Wraysbury Reservoir, returning to Staines on a bridle path alongside the M25 which slowed me a little. There was a short section at Poyle full of lorries where I had to wait a couple of minutes to cross the road to the unmarked track to take me over the M25 and to the short stretch of road leading to the bridleway, but otherwise little traffic.

Wednesday’s ride was trickier in terms of navigation as some of the roads were less familiar. I stopped to check my map after struggling up the slope to cross the motorway and found I should have turned left a couple of hundred yards earlier to go south towards Thorpe, where again I had to stop and get out the map to check I was still on route. And coming in to Chertsey I decided to try a different approach and ended up cycling rather further than necessary before I eventually found my way into the town centre. From there across the bridge and back to Staines I was on familiar territory. Next time I’ll know my way and keep to the route and it will be at least half a mile shorter.

I cycled extensively around this area back in the 1950s but things were rather different then, with no motorways and rather less traffic. During the early weeks of the lockdown it felt a little like the old days, but now local traffic seems to be getting more or less back to usual.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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