Healthy Ride Report 4th January 2020

View NNE from Dawsons Hill
View NNW from Dawsons Hill

18 riders out on a dry January day for the first ride of the new decade. Departed just after 10am and took the steep climb up to Dawsons Hill. Were confronted by a staggeringly striking view. On an overcast day the centre of London was bathed in bright sunlight. The photos above do not do justice to the wonderful panorama. Your eyes are so much better than any camera in dealing with large differences in brightness across an image. A great start for the 2020 rides.

Next back down hill to Barry Rd, then across via a bit of Greendale to the Dulwich Hamlet’s ground. No supporters with us, so not sure how the Hamlets are doing this year. But at least their future on this site is assured. Up across the Sainsbury’s car park and through the woods back to Greendale. Headed next to Dulwich Village and kept riding past the Picture Gallery up to the tollbooth on College Road. There really is a smart little toll booth with cars stopping and paying a machine. Bikes are free, of course!

Proceeded down Hunt Slips Rd and turned back uphill through the filter on to Bowen Drive. This took us to the big surprise of the day, Bovril Castle (aka Kingsdown House). This is a sizable 18th century house that was bought in the 19th century by John Johnston, the inventor of Bovril (see photo of blue plaque). Mr Bovril did not feel the house was impressive enough so had rather nice castellations added. So there it stands, incongruous, in the middle of blocks of flats on the south edge of Dulwich.

Headed next back down the hill, did a quick circuit of Bel Air Park, the mansion looking smart in the sunshine (sunshine had reached us by this time), before stopping at the Herne Hill Velodrome. Never seen so much activity. Must have been around 100 cyclists circulating around the track. Loads of small children learning to ride in the central area inside the track, and the usual group of older children on the mountain bike trail. One of the HHV trainers explained what was going on on the track and encouraged everyone to come an have a go, only £20 for a 1 hour “taster” session, all equipment provided. He informed us this was much cheaper than that other velodrome lot in the Lee Valley/Olympic Park, more info at

Watching all those energetic riders quite tired us out, so we gently trundled back to Dulwich Park. A really enjoyable first ride of the decade!

Route at