Back in the saddle

Leaving Colliers Wood at 9.30 on a sunny Saturday morning, the Cycling Section of CAMRA’s South West London branch set out on its first trip of 2021. Within about a minute of leaving, we were pootling along a tree lined cycle path, gently wending our way through the quiet backstreets of South London heading towards Downe village and the Queens Head, which was Bromley Branch’s Pub of the Year in 2014. Having not been on a bike ride in some time, I was happily surprised at how swift and painless this ride was, despite two big hills, and, before we knew it, we were in Downe. We got our breath back while waiting for the pub to open and, when they did, we enjoyed two well kept beers with a spot of light lunch.

Queens Head in Downe (Source: WhatPub)

After about an hour and a half, we got back on our bikes and made our way towards central Orpington. Again, a beautiful little ride with an epic downhill and peppered with spring scenery. Our destination was the Orpington Liberal Club, which has regularly featured in CAMRA’s London Region Club of the Year awards. Here we were greeted with another excellent selection of beers in tiptop condition. These were all enjoyed in their half formal/half rustic, sunny back garden.

Orpington Liberal Club (Source: WhatPub)

Finally it was time to leave and slowly head home. We passed a few enticing establishments on the way but, it being late Saturday afternoon on the first weekend after lockdown, unbooked tables were pretty much impossible to come by. Full pubs persisted until we reached the Railway in Streatham (South West London Branch’s 2019 Pub of the Year) which, even though as full as all the other pubs, managed to find us a table without our having booked and whose beers left us with no doubt as to why they held that award.

Pub garden at the Railway in Streatham (Source: WhatPub)

By now, evening was upon us and we needed just a little ride to the Sultan (South West London Branch’s 2017 Pub of the Year) to warm up. I got a puncture on the way but, by that time, I was close enough to the pub (and home) not to mind. More good beers and good company.

The Sultan (Source: WhatPub)

For me, the best thing about this day was that our guide, Geoff Strawbridge, knows good cycling routes and good pubs. The entire day was, therefore, well spent with no time wasted.

If you’d like to know more about CAMRA cycling or would like to come on the next ride (I believe they went to Dorking the weekend after) please get in touch with Geoff on 07813 358863 or e-mail him at geoff@swl.camra.org.uk.

Navindh Baburam