Long way to go for a plate of chips I know, but………!
Leaving Cricklade in slightly damp conditions we went via Marlborough, a market town in Wiltshire and home to St John’s public school. The name Marlborough reputedly comes from Merlin’s Barrow – referencing Silbury Hill nearby which is rumoured to be Merlin’s resting place. Or, does the name derive from the Medieval term for chalky ground “Marl” – town on chalk. Luckily for us, the annual event of the Marlborough Mop has been and gone which means riding through the town is much easier for us!
Rather than going via Salisbury which is a our usual route, we went via Pewsey along some wonderful winding country lanes and back roads full of character; not too challenging to maintain a good speed. Not too slow nor too fast. The picturesque vale of Pewsey passes us by without incident. My wife and I plan to come back here to do some camping and walking as this is an area we do not know! Why don’t we know it? Its so nice here I can’t believe we go abroad to visit places when we have so much on our doorstep, literally.
Next up is Amesbury on the A354; then turning right onto the A303, from a slightly confusing roundabout, where we rode along for quite a stretch as it turned out. Passing some old ancient standing stones I believe called Stonehenge (I hate to say it, but I know they are old and important, but, I do find them slightly underwhelming) before eventually turning left to Shaftsbury and Gillingham. I have to admit stopping to check the map as I thought perhaps I had gone wrong.
Then onto Blandford Forum and Wareham. Following signs to Poole before seeing signs for Wareham. This route is rather familiar – stopping again along what I call the straight switchback road for its many undulations and obvious straightness, to clean my visor from all those bugs and bird poo!
Couple of tricky turns to negotiate and eventually, passing Wareham, I see signs for Swanage and Corfe!
Corfe Castle – the now ruined 11th Century castle built by William the Conqueror, stands at the gateway to the Isle of Purbeck, and hauntingly looms up at you as you approach along the A351. The history of Corfe is suggested to date back some 6,000 years with ancient burial mounds surrounding the castle. Corfe is derived from the Saxon word “gap”.
Yet all this history whizzes by in a noisy blur as we sped onto Swanage.
Swanage at last! A coastal town at the edge of the Isle of Purbeck. Somewhere we used to come often but not for a few years now. We once had a great evening watching an outdoor performance of Arabian Nights over at Kimmeridge Bay.
Nearby lay the beach of Studland if you fancy getting fresh air around your bits and pieces! Old Harry Rocks sit in the bay east of Studland and northeast of Swanage. There is a lot of history in the area with the town being mentioned way back in the Anglo Saxon Chronicle 877AD. Swanage also lay at the end of section of coastline known as the “Jurassic Coast” famous for its many prehistoric rock formations covering some 180,000,000 years!
Swanage itself is a small-ish town popular with divers and tourists alike – and now motorcyclists looking for some decent chips for lunch! How times have changed! Surprisingly busy for mid-October, but it was a nice clear day in the end.
On the way down I was looking forward to some chips and a coffee. Once I’d got there and smelled the food frying, you know what, I couldn’t face it! So, after a brief stop, I decided upon the return route home.
Studland and the Sandbanks Ferry which was £1 for a motorbike! No, didn’t stop to air my bits!
The ferry is quick and lands in Poole/Bournemouth. So, I followed signs to Bournemouth and the town centre.
Leaving Bournemouth was a tad slow; speed limits all over the place restrict good progress but they are there for a reason of course.
Following signs for Salisbury, then Marlbourgh brought us back through familiar roads such as those passing Tidworth and Savernake forest.
The opportunity for getting up to a constant speed along these roads is limited and you can get caught behind some slow drivers. But, going from Dorset to Wiltshire was rather nice. Lots of small villages with thatched roof cottages to admire – always think its best to buy the house opposite as that way you can admire the cottage! If you live in it, you don’t get to look at it really!!
Then, signs for Swindon and up and over the M4, along the A419 all the way home!
All in all a very nice day out. Total riding time around 5 hours or so. This was the first long run on the Tiger and you know what? It was fantastic. I did wear some ski-ing under-warmers to keep warm as these are less bulky than a sweatshirt and jeans. Worked a treat; stayed nice and toasty!
The Tiger was brilliant. Never missed a beat and I don’t think it wanted to stop. Plenty of fuel left in the tank for another 50 miles or so. It was me needing a cuppa tea that had to rein it in and call it a day.
Now it’s raining, so washing the bike will have to wait until another day 🙂
Total mileage – 201; 62mpg on average; 37mph average speed.