Bodiam Castle

12th October 2003

We couldn’t have been luckier with the sun that shone down this morning, with not even an autumn nip in the air. The glorious weather had certainly brought the riders out aplenty with twenty seven Harley’s lined up outside Warr’s ready for a rumble into the Kent and East Sussex countryside. After Peter ‘Scottie’ Scott and Neil Wilson-Harris briefed everyone on the run whilst Conor McAnally and Nick Page gave everyone their fifteen minutes or less of fame on video we were all locked and loaded and ready to set off.

An easy ride straight down North to South from Warr’s to Curry Alley in Tooting was where Neil started to lose the pack and by Amen Corner it was nowhere to be seen. “Carry on” cried Scottie and become a marker yourself! Ha, ha, I didn’t set this run to go completely on my own but by Mitcham Common it kinda looked that way. Keeping to an excruitiatingly slow 30mph in a 40 zone the pack gradually caught up and by Purley Way we were doing quite well. The only fly in the ointment being an idiot in a van determined to rejoin the main road at a feeder junction and trying to wipe out Mike in the process. Then he realised a huge amount of noisy bikes were around him with pretty angry people on board, man I thought he was praying for forgiveness!

On and out through Purley, down Caterham way on the A22 and we hit real country roads on the A25 just North of Godstone. Not too busy and the group shuffled up, so by the time we hit historic Westerham our mutual rumble was making itself felt. Hard right to sweep up a hill and down into small country lanes, the leaves were trickling off the beech and ash trees in their hundreds with dappled sunlight winking through the trees. Superb!

Down past Penshurst Place and into the car park at The Leicester Arms Hotel where morning cheer was helped by a hot coffee, thanks to a generous Scottie, and a screeching parrot laughing and cackling its head off - very infectious as it got everyone warmed up splitting our sides after we had cooled down a bit on the ride. Noticed Dietmar Kohls in the pub is quite a little flasher on the side, continentals eh?! And where did ya git that thang boy!

From then on to Tonbridge, the ridge we rode along gave great views North to the Downs encircling London and South to the High Weald. Now it was time to crank up our sleds and git to the pub before all the Sunday punters arrived, whammo - straight down the A21 and a nice ’n easy staggered line formed, not too tight in case of action but close enough make our space on the tarmacadam mean business. At Silver Hill we swung left for an easy roll through ten miles of gorgeous country to drop down into an East Sussex valley cradling Bodiam, a mediaeval castle. The visit had to take a back seat to the pub as we passed over the hump backed bridge and then the tracks of the restored steam railway that runs through the valley. Swing up left and left again along another ridge that looks down on the castle, Oast Houses abound and makes me think of a nice hoppy ale they serve at The White Dog Inn.

We filled the bar in seconds, orders for food and beer flew out, snacks on the bar were devoured by wolfishly hungry bikers and real ale smacked on to appreciative lips. Nothing like a forced oxygen intake to give you a good appetite, now I know where my fat belly is coming from!

After lunch there were groans from those who didn’t want to leave such a glorious establishment to go to ‘a castle’!, but we did and it was worth it. The weather had held, it was sunny with a breeze and the group photo took place with Nick looking like a Christmas tree as many slung a camera around his neck commanding him to just take one more.

Thanks to all for the company on this part, it helped put the polish on a fine day.

Paul Wiggins - C&F Road Captain