The day before the autumn equinox was spent on a photo-recce of Arc 10 and 11 to check that three prized sections are still in fine fettle. These are two stretches of abandoned road and the shortcut through Penn Woods – all indispensable parts of the C25 system.
This is the start, southbound, of Beamond End Lane, closed to traffic and gated at the midpoint for the past five years, and I dearly hope the unrestricted speed limit sign is retained. Not far short of two miles long, the macadamised surface is still there, though the moss, leaves, acorns and grasses encroach, so take it easy, especially descending into the valley! 60mph would be truly reckless. Behind you is Little Missenden, a picture-perfect village.
Just beyond (or before, if travelling clockwise) is the Woodland Trust’s Penn Woods. Cycle permeable gates permit entry to this lovely and ancient woodland, but the path is rough and boggy in places; it is one of the few C25 sections where a short walk may be preferable. The alternative is a detour on the fast and busy Amersham-Wycombe A-road – rejected as unworthy of the C25.
Satisfied that all was well with the route, I retraced my tracks and went on to Chesham, where Arc 11 begins. Not far beyond is another mile of abandoned road which again gives peaceful respite from riding with traffic, and also makes a valuable shortcut as the arc heads northeast for Bulstrode Cross, the junction point where a choice is made between an outer arc 11-12 via Harpenden and Welwyn or an inner arc 11-12 via Verulamium and Hatfield. I took a snap of tarmac with white line still visible amid the undergrowth and rejoined the lanes of Flaunden, returning via Chenies to Chorleywood, where the Metropolitan Line took me home.