The Old Roads are the Best

My Saturday evening ride started early at five in the afternoon with the threat of rain. I was in the mood for some meandering, so halfway up Black Dog Hill I turned left onto a hitherto unnoticed, tiny, but steep track. It climbed up swiftly into dank old growth forest, the banks encroaching on the decaying road surface. There were regular bumps in the centre of the track, I suddenly realised that they were the indentions left from torn out cats eyes. Clearly I was cycling up the old Black Dog Hill Road, the winding, narrow route that the coaches had to crawl up, the drivers fearfully scanning the banks for the ruthless highwayman and his evil black hound. Standing on the pedals and crawling up the slope, it was easy to imagine the huge ghost dog slinking through the undergrowth. The shattered crumbling tarmac swung up and right until the way was blocked by a padlocked gate with a sign warning that my number plate had been noted. Beyond the gate a mobile phone mast now stood in the centre of the road. Stand and deliver.

the Old Black Dog Road

There was another road cut into the bank, this one was chippings, I cycled a little way up, but it seemed to turn into a farm’s driveway. I turned back and dropped down the hill, bouncing around on the mangled asphalt until I had to grab handfuls of brake to stop before being spat onto the A36, made a note to myself to get those brakes sorted. Back on the Black Dog Hill, I climbed up to Dead Maids Junction as the first fat drops of rain started to fall. A brief shower passed leaving steam rising from the warm tarmac and the distinctive smell of the road after rainfall. My legs felt strong so I just cycled round every little back-road I could find, Upton Scudamore, the road bridge over the A36, the edge of Westbury, the outskirts of Warminster. I didn’t turn back until I reached the roundabout at the Salisbury end of the Warminster Bypass. There I found more old road, the brambles were crawling all the way across, huge concrete blocks painted white stopped cars from going down. I took the bike a little way along, but it seemed to turn into undergrowth pretty quickly:

the Old Roads are the best

How long since the roundabout had caused this road to die? Ten years? Twenty? I suspect nature takes roads back surprisingly quickly. 43mph down Black Dog Hill, I was back home by seven, 34 miles, one whole bidon of water.

Published in: on July 30, 2007 at 10:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

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