Our thanks to everyone who managed to take part in ‘Castles and Coastlines’ the only event we managed to put on this year. There have been many photos and fantastic stories from members who embraced the challenge and it is fair to say that Shaun Lee had his work cut out coordinating all the flow of information and results – Well done Shaun!
Taking all the information and details into account, the winning team who truly entered into the spirit for ‘Castles and Coastlines’ 2020 is ‘Retyred’ with riders Alan Wright and Gus Kennedy achieving a massive 43 locations over 566 miles and team leader Gus submitting and excellent report to complete the job – well done both, indeed well done all (ride report below).
Retyred’s ride report
Although retired, Retyred have anything but unaccounted for spare time. With gainful employed life now slipping behind Retyred, Alan Wright and Gus Kennedy, agreed that, with this somewhat curtailed riding season, it was time to get to it before ‘others’ found things that needed to be done, that might have been promised a lifetime ago before we found other adventures new, so ... ... ... ...
Castles or lighthouses?
Both could give us many enjoyable miles but given the many ‘other things that must be attended to’ we plumped to take advantage of the revised event rules and decided on trying to see what might be done over three consecutive days in and around Kent, Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire. Lighthouses are relatively few, but castles could give us some good options. So, a bit of ‘tinter-net’ time revealed many dozens of sites, but with great variations, on what might be seen or found.
So, what for us was to constitute a castle; something like Dover and Leeds might be obvious but various dictionaries could not provide any consistency in the meaning of the noun or periods of existence, so a mongrel approach was decided. For us a ‘castle site’ would have or have had a significant, of its time, fortification either for the strategic military defence of land or a route, or the home of royalty or nobility. ‘Of its time’, well we limited the period to between those initially constructed following the Roman invasion through to pre-Victorian heavy fortifications. Also excluded were the many Napoleonic Martello towers - once you have seen one!!
A little pre-planning goes a long way. Plotting out the sites came from a number of sources but primarily a good old hard map with sites marked out in red as well as a number of ‘tinter-net’ sites, particularly castles.co.uk, everycastle.com and castlesfortsbattles.co.uk. That gave us a plot of interesting sites to get around.
So how to do it?
Traditional map, nice but a bit of a faff, so both having recently acquired TomTom ‘satnavs’, it seemed - ‘seemed’ the way to go. 6-7 hours rolling in the saddle and a couple of hours for stops, lunch, leg-stretches and attending to old bloke’s troubles! Plot the route into TomTom’s MyDrive using the different sites as waypoints and ‘voila’ three days sorted; Day 1, 210 miles, 9 hours rolling and 30 sites, Day 2, 163 miles, 7 hours rolling 15 sites and Day 3, 183 miles 6.5 hours rolling and 13 sites, gradually easing back to take account of time in the saddle and distribution of the old fortifications, with north and east Kent hosting the greater number not surprisingly!
There’s the plan, what could go wrong!
Wrong was probably not the right word, but as oft said ‘the greatest of plans seldom survive first contact’. Some of ‘things’; unforeseen events, trying to gain access to sites, chatting to locals/guides etc. good old chinwags getting to know your buddy better, extra coffee and comfort-breaks with more chatting, bad weather, and significantly a lack of familiarity with the wonders of technology - TomTom’s stops are not stops at all but rather just a way of making your planned journey pass through a location than letting you know you need to stop!
Having a paper list of the sites to be visited proved to be the critical back-up, not relying on internet access whilst on the move with postal address and outline description of what might be found allowed direct satnav routing from one location to the next followed on after day one’s experiences.
Previewing the sites, especially with Google Earth, is valuable in helping to recognise what you see on the ground!
With self-imposed time constraints, just make sure your TomTom is not set to ‘Thrills’ or ‘Mountains’! Whilst giving you some great and technically challenging roads - read back of nowhere, broken black-top covered with loose stuff!! It truly eats into your ability to get around the planned day.
In COVID times be prepared to not be able to access everything you would have wanted to.
In many places there may be an entry cost,if you want the best and close view. Over a run that is likely to get a little expensive!
People at sites can be informative, but hard to break off from, especially if they like your ride!
Be prepared to discover new things in unexpected places - Spike Milligan is buried at St Thomas’s church in Winchelsea, Reigate castle is the park in the centre of the town’s one-way system - complete with dry and wet moats (who knew that was there?), nice houses with great views have been built upon old mottes!
And someone may have foreseen your coming!!
Be flexible with your plans, time and the elements will be against you if you are ambitious! Be prepared to just say “that’ll be for another day!”
Rough roads are not great for your tyres!
Old waterproofs may no longer be waterproof!
Most importantly your ride buddies are great, look after each other!! Enjoy whatever comes along!
Very last minute, unforeseen circumstances prevented Alan and Gus getting on the road together on day one. So following the same plan for day one, but with some time, weather, stops, satnav technical issues (bit off route!!), slightly different final routes were completed with many of the planned sites bagged. Regular check-ins meant that the team stayed together in spirit at least! Even with all of that that they managed to bump into each other at Sandwich castle on 22nd!!!
22nd August Gus
Start Sainsbury’s Otford 0835hrs mileage 14072. 19 out of 30 planned sites visited, finish Biggin Hill 1959hrs mileage 14275, 9.5 hours 203 miles run.
Visited; Lullingstone, Eynesford, Stone, Cooling, Upnor, Rochester, Tonge, Chilham, Canterbury, Reculver, Richborough, Sandwich, Sandown, Deal, Walmer, Fort Burgoyne, Dover, Dover Western Heights
23rd August Alan
start East Malling 0900hrs mileage 14292,17 out of 30 planned sites visited, finish East Malling 1900hrsmileage 14469.10hours, 177 miles run.
Visited; Rochester, Whitstable, Reculver, Canterbury, Richborough, Sandwich, Sandown Deal, Walmer, Dover, Archcliffe Fort, Dover Western Heights, Chilham, Leeds, Thurnham, Allington St Leonard's
24th August start Westerham Green 0930hrs mileage 14344 ,11 out of 13 planned sites visited, finish Westerham Green 2027hrs mileage 14536, 11 hours 192miles run.
Visited; Bletchingley, Reigate, Guildford, Farnham, Du Bohan (Midhurst), Cowdray House (Midhurst), Warblington, Porchester, Chichester, Arundel, Amberley.
start Riverhead 0906hrs mileage 14552, 14 out of 16 planned sites visited, finish Westerham Green 1915hrs mileage 14723 10 hours 171 miles run.
Visited; Hever, Chiddingstone, Penshurst, Tonbridge, Scotney, Sissinghurst, Bodium, Rye, Camber, Winchelsea, Hastings, Herstmonceaux, Pevensey, Lewis.
43 sites, 30.5 hours 566 miles or 42 sites, 31 x hours, 540 miles
Either way, great fun, great company and the Harley brotherhood bond!!
That’s about it for now, as indicated in previous communications, the current plan is to roll forward rides that were due to take place this year into next season, clearly the situation remains somewhat fluid and it will be reviewed nearer the time. It is great many of you have managed to get out and about on your bikes during this period.
Wishing you all well.
Keep safe, ride safe.
Assistant Director and Charter Member
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