Cheers to those takeaways!

After two months of lockdown and with the prospect of more good weather, it seemed about time to reconvene the South West London CAMRA cycling section. We would be few and socially distanced enough, exercise was important and, thanks mostly to all the information on the regional website, we knew where and when to find liquid refreshment. As it turned out, we enjoyed five successive Saturdays of fresh air, beer and cider.

Photo: Christopher Crowther

For our first outing, three of us left Colliers Wood at 9.30 and arrived at Real Ale Way, Hayes (Kent), just as it opened at 11. The four pint container was filled with Tonbridge Traditional (3.6% ABV), which we shared on the way up to Downe. There, the Queen’s Head was open by 12 and we sat under a tree enjoying Westerham Summer Perle (3.8% ABV) from a new cask. Then it was comfortably downhill to Orpington Liberal Club for Whitstable Safe Anchorage Mild (3.8% ABV). While ordering, we missed the day’s only sudden squall outside. After climbing past Orpington station, we then zigzagged across to the One Inn the Wood for some Burning Sky Plateau (3.5% ABV) to last the ride back. Calling in again at Real Ale Way, just about to close, I exchanged the two glasses we’d hired for two pints of Biddenden Dry Cider (8% ABV) for home. We took our time on the way back via Norwood Junction; the wind had turned against us but all was well.

The next week, I’d had virtual meetings to attend until 1.30 and so 2pm at the far south west corner of Wimbledon Common was our starting point. Just two of us headed past the windmill, under the A3 and through Roehampton and Mortlake to the Thames Path, Kew Bridge and Brentford before cycling up the canal towpath to Old Hanwell. The Green W7 was our timely filling station, with cask beers at £10 for three pints. We took on four of Oakham Citra (4.2% ABV) and two of Twickenham Naked Ladies (4.4% ABV) for our onward route via the locks and Windmill Bridge, Brunel’s remarkable road over canal over railway edifice, where we emerged to return via Syon Lane to Kew Bridge. There we turned right and up the Thames Path via Richmond to Kingston. A refill of Twickenham Grandstand (3.8% ABV) from the Willoughby Arms refreshed a final stop off the new ‘C31’ woodland cycle track between New Malden and Raynes Park.

Photo: Adrian Palmer

On 6 June, two of us again headed from Colliers Wood via Wallington and Woodcote down to Coulsdon, under the railway bridges and up to Old Coulsdon, skirting Caterham before dropping down to Whyteleafe; we wouldn’t have wanted to be climbing that one in the other direction. The Radius Arms was already busy with takeaway customers. I filled up with Surrey Hills Ranmore Ale (3.5% ABV). Heading back down the valley towards Croydon, we took Riddlesdown Road, a dirt track across open countryside with a seat for a timely drink stop, before heading north east up past Sanderstead and into Selsdon. A second micropub, the Golden Ark, supplied Yeovil Star Gazer (4% ABV) and from there it was downhill to Hayes. (My companion had missed the earlier trip.) Larkins Pale (4.2% ABV) was a must for the ride back via Elmers End, and this time it was four pints of that wonderful Biddenden cider for ‘lockdown’ at home.

The Cat & Mutton (Photo: ELAC)

Four of us set off mid-morning a week later, this time up the main drag through Stockwell, over Waterloo Bridge and on to the canal towpath in Islington. With other commitments, one turned back from Dalston and a second after our first refreshment stop. We drank pints of Signature Roadie (4.3% ABV) from the Cat & Mutton in Broadway Market on the corner of London Fields. Next was the Pembury Tavern; for me it was two pints of Five Points Micro Pale (2.8% ABV), to enjoy in South Mill Fields before we turned on to the Lee Navigation towpath. Soon we cut across through Walthamstow Wetlands, then northwards and over into Blackhorse Lane for Wild Card Brewery: a litre bottle each of Passion Fruit Gose (4.8% ABV) for another bench stop on the signposted cycle route across Tottenham Wetlands. From there we found a route to a footbridge over the North Circular and were welcomed at Beerblefish Brewery in Edmonton for container refills of TNT (4% ABV). Returning, we stopped at the Prince in Wood Green but the queue was long and slow. Instead we kept going, down past King’s Cross and, after walking past police manoeuvres on Waterloo Bridge, we were back at Merton in time for a booked collection from the Trafalgar.

Following another virtual meeting on 20 June, it was a second Wimbledon Common rendezvous, this time with my companions from the Downe trip. After a quick tube replacement only yards along the path (an old patch had blown suddenly over an enlarged puncture), we took a shorter route to the Thames Path at Barnes and then cut through Northfields back to the Green W7. For our four pints we chose Rebellion IPA (3.7% ABV), with the other two of Naked Ladies again. We stayed on the Grand Union towpath out past Windmill Bridge to the junction at Bull’s Bridge beyond Southall, then turned along the Paddington Arm and past Greenford, Alperton and Harlesden before leaving it at Ladbroke Grove. Just up into Kensal Rise, the Parlour had Five Points Pils (4.8% ABV) on tap and the four pints of that – at only £3 each – saw us home via Hammersmith, Putney and Wandsworth.

The Parlour

More outings are planned for as many thirsty riders as are welcome to join us. Just drop me a line at geoff@swl.camra.org.uk.

Geoff Strawbridge