A Steamy Ride

In December, Martyn Roberts arranged a ride to Queen Elizabeth Country park, timed to pause at Havant level crossing in New Lane.
This ride was designed for anyone who likes steam trains - is there anyone who doesn't - to try and catch a glimpse of Black 5 No 44871 as it powered through Havant.

On the day some cyclists stood on the railway bridge to watch, while others stood by the crossing gates. For a while nothing happened until someone on the bridge said “It’s coming” and the excitement gradually built, and built .. and then with a massive pounding of pistons and a great whoosh of steam the engine passed followed by successive whooshes as the carriages passed until all that was left was a faint smell in the air from the burnt steam coal, and a sigh coming down from the onlookers.

After remounting bikes it was planned to ride on to Rowlands castle,  past the golf course and over the hill to Horndean where the road passes under the A3(M) and then runs alongside. This road was once the main road from London to Portsmouth, but is now entirely residential on one side but screened from the A road by hedging. So, even when we are cycling along we seem to hear big traffic approaching from behind, but it passes without risk because it is not on ‘our’ road at all, just twenty feet away behind the hedge.

Eventually this road seems to come to an end but there is a cycle/ pedestrian path alongside the main road by the crash barrier but it soon drops down behind another long hedge before joining a slip road running into Charlton Lane and leading through towards The Country Park where refreshments are usually consumed with enthusiasm after the ascent.

Our return journey takes us back to Charlton, passing the Buster Ancient Farm and on passing pleasant open countryside through Finchdean and back to Horndean where some riders branch off to go home by a more direct route for them but the rest return to Havant.

So, not all,about the train, the steam and excitement but a nice diversion to talk about and make an exceptional day.

Thank you for the planning, Martyn.

Mike Skiffins Portsmouth CTC
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