Sunday, June 28, 2009

Two go cycling to Stanbridge

Our town has publicly and unequivocally been pronounced close to death by Mary Portas and I feel slightly embarrassed even to admit I live here. Sense tells me that people don't become interesting by dint of living somewhere interesting and experience shows me this as I've met a number of inwardly dull people who live in outwardly funky places. Equally you are not immediately rendered not worth bothering with simply because you live somewhere that's a bit on the boring side. However a slight feeling of shame hovers over me.

So feeling a little depressed about my home town, I was glad to remember what it has in its favour: amazing countryside which the casual observer, passing perhaps sneerily through the dying High Street, may never experience. We took one of the National Cycle Routes and followed it through woods, past fields brooks and rivers until we reached Stanbridge. We sat for a few moments on the green before making our way back, passing again the ancient hamlet of Sewell, the tumulus of the Maiden Bower in front of us.

The ride also reminded me of one of the reasons why our poor, beleaguered town has fallen on such sad times, despite once being the home of the king's hunting lodge and a great and very beautiful Priory. The cycle track follows the route of the railway or rather the ex-railway, axed by Beeching in the 1960s. In one fell swoop he sounded the death knell of the town, one of the biggest towns in Britain without a railway as it happens.

The route of the railway makes a beautiful ride but it is a little sad that a train will probably never take this route again, not least because it's now a nature reserve.

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