By Steve H
What we hope will be the last weekend of dual riding saw us meet at Beddington Park on Saturday, Ken and I on one side of the road with Maggie and Paul suitably distanced on the other. Once rearranged, Maggie and Ken set off south for Kenley while Paul and I headed north for Clapham Common. Paul's mission, which he had decided to accept, was to reconnoitre part of the route for Tony Hooker's forthcoming all day ride up to town. We left past the church and through Beddington Village to join Beddington Lane. After a short distance we turned right into the Asda car park (the scenic route again) to reach the tram crossing at Therapia Lane. Once across we joined Croydon Road on the bike path and entered Mitcham Common. A short way along is Watneys Road on the right which has been closed off with concrete blocks to all but pedestrians and cyclists giving us a traffic-free ride through the woods to the east side of Mitcham Common.
Along Commonside East and then following the railway took us to the level crossing at Mitcham Eastfields station where the barriers were down. We pulled up alongside a couple on a tandem and during a short conversation it turned out that they were also members of SWLDA, Richard James in the captain's seat and Terry as stoker. They asked after several members of the club and when the barriers were raised, we rode with them briefly before branching off left towards Colliers Wood tube station. Here we joined the CS7 cycle superhighway which runs from Colliers Wood north-east along the A24 to Cannon Street in the city. The lane is painted light blue to match the corporate colour of the bank that sponsored its introduction and in places is segregated from the busy main road by bollards with which one must be careful not to collide. Although super it's looking a bit shabby in places with the blue paint peeling off. When the original sponsorship deal ended it was taken over by another bank whose colour is red, fortunately the workmen haven't been back with tins of red paint.
The highway follows the route of the northern line through Tooting, Bal-ham (Gateway to the South) to Clapham South station on the edge of Clapham Common. Here we had a brief stop then made our way across the Common which was busy, lockdown notwithstanding, and past the bandstand. This is now surrounded by bouquets of flowers in memory of Sarah Everard, the woman who was murdered on Clapham Common.
As the Common was a bit crowded, we headed back south-west towards Earlsfield, stopping at a delicatessen on Garratt Lane for refreshments which were taken in the churchyard next door. Consumables consumed we set off again for more sleuthing, this involved frequent stops to consult the map and a few U turns. Nonetheless we eventually arrived at Abbey Mills to pick up the Wandle Trail.
The River Wandle once resembled a ditch polluted by industries along its banks but with their demise it has cleaned up considerably and wildlife has returned. We didn't follow the Wandle Trail all the way to Morden Hall Park but turned off through the Merton Park conservation area and past Rutlish School, alma mater of one John Major. Back across the tram lines, then towards Lower Morden and the path between the two cemeteries leading to Green Lane. We then passed The Hamptons, a housing estate built in the New England style. A recent fire there destroyed one of the blocks and investigation revealed unsafe construction reputedly rendering the properties virtually unsellable.
It was cloudy and cold by the time we made our way across London Road and Fairlands Park to the Sutton bypass where Paul headed on back through Sutton to Wallington. I made my way south along the dual carriageway to Belmont as before with 28 flatish miles done for the day. With any luck we will be able to socialise a bit more next time.