To kick things off for our year of microadventure Fabian & I decided to head out to the South Downs for a night of wild camping and a brisk cycle to the Roman town of Chichester. Our initial plan was to cycle to Winchester and camp out in the National Forest but let’s just say that Google Maps’ beta cycling maps are less than ideal (we spent an hour navigating Guildford Research Park going around in circles following the robotic directions of the charming Googlebot lady).
Having set the map to standard car functionality we set a course for Godalming. Making brisk progress in the crisp winter sunshine we got into a comfortable rhythm gliding through the chilly miles. The aim for the day was to find a suitable wild camping spot within easy reach of a decent pub. That box was ticked by the beautifully sleepy village of Chiddingfold. Just a few miles shy of the South Downs National Park, Chiddingfold boasts a choice of three pubs, and our recomendation for the evening was The Crown, an 800 year old inn.
Our camp for the evening was a rather damp field a couple of miles outside the village. We pitched up next to a majestic tree towards the top of the hill where the ground was slightly firmer underfoot. We made a roaring fire and quaffed a smashing bottle of Malbec while lounging on oddments of logs and cardboard earlier procured from the friendly Aussie barman at the pub “you fellas heading out in to the bush?”
At first light we broke camp and fast with a simple bowl giant couscous, topped with a hearty slab of butter kept from the previous days fry up, a strong coffee and a wedge of Soreen. By 10am we were on our way to Chichester. Stopping after 20km at the town of Midford we enjoyed an early lunch and a natter with locals in the café. One chap had been visiting Chichester for over 25 years so much did he love the natural beauty of the area. We quite agreed.
After a time and many photographs, we arrived in the Cathedral town of Chichester. As we arrived into the town we again bumped in to a couple from the café in Midford. A happy coincidence indeed and a chance to get a tip for the best place to visit for a pint and a pub lunch, The Dell Key appeared to be the place to go.
We had hoped to get down to the coast for a pint and a breath of sea but alas light was fading and with many miles to do once back in London we decided to hop on a train back to the capitol. For this our first microadventure of the year we were pleased with the outcome. A total break from the usual weekend routine. A reinvigorating cycle adventure taking in beautiful countryside, encountering friendly strangers, and just a few miles out of London, all planned last minute on a Thursday evening, a brilliant weekend.