Mansions to muddy lanes
October 14, 2007
I used viaMichelin and Bikely to plan and plot my GPS led route from south west London to Dunstable.
Everything was going so well until I was instructed to turn off Kensington Road (A315) into Kensington Palace Gardens.
It has a police barrier and doesn’t look like its open to through traffic.
It turns out that this street contains some of the grandest and most expensive houses in the world and you can ride up it.
A few private residents occupy the mansions that line the street but most are either an embassy or the official residence of an ambassador.
In the 1940s it was also the home of the London Cage, an MI19 “interrogation centre” for German civilians and POWs that was kept secret and hidden from the Red Cross.
My GPS had a few problems keeping up in central London but viaMichelin took me north on some wide and quiet roads.
I was expecting Saturday morning chaos so the emptiness was quite eerie.
viaMichelin did send me down a lane signposted as a no through road however.
To be fair, you can get through on a bike, although not easily.
It could be a lovely rural cycle route between Watford and Hemel Hempstead if it wasn’t a muddy track (and the tunnel under the M25 had better lighting).
Towards the end of the ride there were wonderful views out over the Vale of Aylesbury and Chiltern Ridge from the Dunstable Downs visitor centre despite the weather.
It is one of the highest points in the east of England at a massive 243 m (797 ft).
The centre has a good sized undercover bike parking area and according to the National Trust site, its cafe “serves chips and the famous Dunstable Downs Bacon Roll”.
I didn’t want to spoil my appetite so I managed to resist this tempting fare.
Maybe next time.