Martello Madness

17th August 2008

One of our drop-offs is missing...

This was a new destination for C&F, the south coast at Pevensey Bay. It also did not involve going across Putney Bridge and down the A3. The choice of destination was John Warr’s, announced at the Road Captains and Chapter Officers meeting last December, where we met to decide on this year’s programme. What is a Martello Tower anyway?

Apparently the origin of the name stems from the Napoleonic Wars, and the towers were defensive structures built to resist a threatened French invasion. Research revealed that there were several of these towers still standing in the Pevensey Bay area. Since that’s about the closest part of the coast to London (at 65 miles), then provided we could find a nice route down and somewhere for lunch this was looking good. The recce a few weeks before had found a pub in Edenbridge where the management were prepared to open an hour earlier to cater for the needs of thirsty Harley-mounted tourists, and local knowledge revealed a lunch stop in the Pevensey Bay Aqua club, a beach-front members’ club with adjacent car park.

All that was left to arrange was a dry day, a rare event this August, and of course the optional Red Arrows fly-past. Actually they were doing a display for the nearby Eastbourne Air Show, but it was impressive nevertheless!

So what could go wrong... with Peter ‘Scottie’ Scott as roving marshal, Dave Mollison as last man and John Warr himself doing the sweeper rôle. Off we went from Warr’s Kings Road, down to Wandsworth Bridge. Straight down Trinity Road, past Tooting Bec common to meet the A23 at Streatham. The nasty right turn at St Leonard’s Church accomplished, it was down the A23 via the Purley Way all the way to pick up the A22 at Purley Cross. At Whyteleafe, it was left up the hill to Warlingham and then across the top of the North Downs until it was time to drop down into Westerham, home of General Wolfe of Quebec fame. Turn right onto the A25, then shortly left onto the A264, the most important turn of the trip. I really wish the drop-off had stayed put where he was positioned as otherwise the ride wouldn’t have fragmented and spoilt the timing for the refreshment stop. We had actually made the same error on the recce, which is why I am absolutely certain I knew where to put the drop-off. Please, if you can’t understand the simple instruction that a drop-off stays put until the last man picks you up, please don’t come on C&F rides.

Martello Tower

As it was we arrived at the Swan in Edenbridge in three instalments. First was me and those immediately behind - then after a few minutes the ever alert Mr Scott with his clutch, and then 20 minutes later the remainder who had fortunately been gathered in and sat-navved to the pub by an alert C&F member who had realised that there had been a c***-up. I didn’t get your name, but thanks! The pub people thought we’d staggered the arrival to make sure that there weren’t long queues, and they’d be pleased to see us again anytime. Indeed the landlord asked for a group photo for his own records.

So we set off in a spirit of renewed optimism after a quick tea/coffee/half/can of coke and next on the agenda was the lovely Ashdown Forest. Obey the blanket 40mph speed limit, kick back and enjoy the breathtaking views over the countryside which inspired AA Milne. In there is the original 100 Acre Wood and Eeyore’s ‘damp and boggy place’, locations described in books for his children to exorcise the demons of his Great War service. Then we picked up the main A22 again and the ride became more progressive down to our destination at Pevensey Bay. I was surprised by a continual scraping noise on one roundabout until I realised it was the exhaust system meeting terra firma again. We arrived just before 1pm, so back on schedule. Group photo taken at Martello Tower number 61, it was off to the Aqua Club just as the Red Arrows flew overhead. Then it was time for fish and chips or Sunday roast and a relaxing walk on the shingly beach before a quick blast home.

Thanks to Aeron and Becky for helping with the recce and sorting out the lunch stop; Scottie, Dave and John for being the ‘road crew’ and everyone who turned up and took part. Next ride-out is the Fall Ride on 14th September, see you there.

Michael Howers - C&F Road Captain