I’m diligently researching a ride for an article that asked me to combine beer and cycling. Hmm. Clearly a mix to be approached with care, like ice skating while juggling machetes, or putting Brexiteers in the cabinet.
I came up with the idea of a circuit round Kent: Canterbury–Ashford–Tenterden–Faversham–Canterbury.
This should be an enjoyable one- or two-day ride in its own right, even for teetotallers, but also give those who enjoy a drink in moderation the chance to moderate quite a lot.
Because it goes through hop gardens, past oast houses and barley fields, enables tours round a hop farm and Britain’s oldest brewery, and ends in a historic city with some excellent pubs and microbreweries.
Chaucer’s band of storytelling pilgrims would surely have approved.
Anyway, I spent three pleasant days riding some of Kent’s back lanes to investigate all this. Day 1 was Faversham to Canterbury, including an outstanding tour of Shepherd Neame – that ‘oldest brewer’ – and the Crab and Winkle cycle path from Whitstable to Canterbury.
There was quite a sidewind, which may help explain the name.
Day 2 was Canterbury to the hop areas of Tenterden along the River Stour cycle path via Ashford, home of the much newer Curious Brewery, next to Ashford ‘International’.
If Shepherd Neame is all about Olde Englande to the strains of Elgar, Curious is a US-style factory-chic brewery-tap and Oasis.
Day 3 was a lovely jaunt from Tenterden back to Faversham. I went all along quiet singletrack back roads through picture-postcard villages that could serve as a backdrop to Darling Buds of May simply by getting rid of the parked cars.
Probably easier to build a period set from scratch, then. But I also went past countless former oast houses, all now converted to private dwellings (see also Post Offices).
Eventually I’ll put up the route in detail. Meanwhile, here’s a few more images from the trip.