Sunday, 22 Sep 2019

Romney Marsh

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- A man with a seven-inch (18 cm) penis may proudly compare his organ to the average man’s five to six inches (12-15 cm) but be intimidated when learning another wields an eight-inch (20 cm) rod.

“Best 100 mile bike routes”

Chris Sidwells

Romney Marsh

Romney Marsh is the collective name given to a group of marshes located behind the Kent and East Sussex coast. It has a distinctive look and an interesting history. This includes acting as a haven for smugglers, supporting a fishing industry and playing a crucial role in defending Britain in two world wars and in several earlier conflicts. Romney’s history is also one of lost communities and battles with the sea. It’s an enchanting, haunting place with many literary connections.

Romney Marsh - photo 1

Romney Marsh

Romney Marsh. It’s also a great place to ride a bike. There are no hills on the marsh part, but this ride visits some of the lower bits of the Downs and it crosses an inland island. It starts in Folkestone, the ‘other’ Channel port, and heads along the sea front to Hyde then Dymchurch. Have a look at the sea wall, because it’s where the term Scott-free comes from. Back in the 1500s a tax called the Marsh Scotts was levelled through much of the marshes to maintain the Dymchurch sea wall, so all those living on the marsh borders were said to be living Scott-free.

Romney Marsh - photo 2

Romney Marsh

This coast has always been heavily defended, and you can still see structures built during the First and Second World Wars, and some others called Martello Towers that date back to the Napoleonic Wars. There’s a good example of a Martello Tower on the front in Dymchurch. You catch a glimpse just before the route turns inland. The marsh section to New Romney is full of streams and ditches. It’s not hard to see why malaria was once a problem here. This is almost as far south as you can go in the UK; the summers are usually warm and the continent is just over the Channel. People died of the disease here right up until 1806, when drainage was improved dramatically by the Royal Military Canal and the mosquito’s habitat was restricted.

Romney Marsh - photo 3

Romney Marsh

Romney Marsh. The next leg follows the coast towards Dungeness and onto the massive shingle of Denge Beach. Look out for some huge concrete structures after Greatstone; they are sound mirrors placed there in 1920 to detect the early approach of aircraft to Lydd airport. The beach has fresh and saltwater environments, and is home to an incredible diversity of plants and to significant numbers of coastal birds. You leave the marsh at Rye, a charming town on the confluence of three rivers. It was an important place, part of the Cinque Ports confederation that played a key defensive role, but a lot of smuggled goods also passed through here. Rye is an arty place today, and it has played a key role in literature. It’s a gateway to the sea, but it’s also a gateway to some hillier country behind it. That’s where this ride goes next.

Romney Marsh - photo 4

Romney Marsh

You ride along a ridge, cross the Brede Valley and skirt around Hastings then over Blackhorse Hill to the site of the 1066 battle and the town named after it. The abbey you pass on entering Battle was founded in 1095 to commemorate the beginning of Norman England. The high altar is said to be on the exact spot where the English King Harold died. The route continues undulating north to Sandhurst – not the military academy one though, which is in Berkshire. Then it heads over the Isle of Oxney and back across Romney Marsh to climb Lympne Hill. This takes you up onto the Downs just outside Folkestone, where you have one more hill to climb through the town streets before the end of the ride.

Romney Marsh - photo 5

Romney Marsh

 Romney Marsh. Start near the railway station and descend to the sea-front. Turn right onto the A259, then take the Hythe sea-front road. Turn right in Hythe and left onto the A259. Turn right in Pennypot and follow this road to Dymchurch. Turn right in Dymchurch, then first left, then left to New Romney. Turn right onto the A259 and left onto the B2071, then go right at the sea front and follow this road through Lydd-on-Sea. Turn right, then turn left in Lydd onto the B2075.

Romney Marsh - photo 6

Romney Marsh

Follow this road through Camber to Rye. Stay just north of the town centre and turn right on the B2089 to Broad Oak, where you turn left on the A28 to Hastings. Turn right on entering Hastings on the A2100 to Battle. The site of the Battle of Hastings is on your left between the B2204 and the abbey. Turn right at the roundabout on the A2100 and take the last right going out of Battle then turn left. Turn right after Whatlington, cross the A21 and turn left on the B2244. Turn right on the B2165 at Cripp’s Corner, and in Staplecross where the B2165 turns sharp right continue straight to Bodiam.

Romney Marsh - photo 7

Romney Marsh

 Turn right to Sandhurst then turn right onto the A268 and take the first left off it to Devenden. There, turn right, then go left and right on and off the A28. Turn right in Rolvenden Layne to Wittersham, turn right onto the B2082 and go straight ahead at the Stocks where the B2082 turns sharp right and follow this road through Stone in Oxney and turn right onto the B2080. Follow this road to the A2070 roundabout, and there go straight ahead on the A259 and turn left in Old Romney. Follow this road to Beechcroft Farm and turn left. Turn right after Norwood Farm and follow the road through Newchurch to Botolph’s Bridge, where you turn left. Climb Lympne Hill, turn right at the top, then right onto the A261 to join the A259 and retrace the outward section through Hythe, but turn left on the A259 and right up the hill to Shorncliffe Camp. Turn left and continue up the hill to the B2064, and turn right to Folkestone Station.

Romney Marsh - photo 8

Romney Marsh

Romney Marsh. Start and Finish: Folkestone

Romney Marsh. Getting There: Folkstone is right at the end of the M20 and has a direct rail link with London.

Romney Marsh. Bike Shop: ACTIV Cycles on Sandgate Road

Romney Marsh. Cafe: The Hub on the High Street in Sandgate, which is one mile west of Folkestone and on this ride route. The Hub is also a bike shop.

Romney Marsh. Local Delicacy: Samphire

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