Wind your way through the very best of the countryside, on quiet roads, off-road paths and tracks, always striving to follow the ways least travelled. It’s an endlessly rich network with unlimited opportunities for improvisation, variation and detours. Changing weather and changing seasons (Britain sometimes boasts all four in a single day) means no two bike rides are the same, even if they follow the same route.
The journey to become a cycling connoisseur of lost lanes is a simple one and comprises three steps. First, discover the lost lanes nearest where you live. Get out the Ordnance Survey maps (the Landranger 1:50,000 are best for cycling) and look for the thinnest yellow lines. For a bird’s eye view, go to www.twomaps.com and explore the twinning of detailed map and aerial photography. Next, get to know them in the flesh. Identify the wildflowers and come back a couple of months later to see what’s changed. Listen to the birdsong, spot the trees. Take a tramp about in neighbouring woodlands.
Third, and above all, just ride. At any speed, in all seasons, for the thrill of the new or the comfort of the familiar. Alone or with friends, pack a picnic or stop at a pub for lunch, have a snooze under a tree, take some photographs – even write a sonnet if the mood takes you. Savour the beauty and wildness of these perfect threads of common ground and celebrate the very best way to see them – by bike.
In issue 14 of The Simple Things, Jack Thurston shares hand-picked routes from his latest book.
LOST LANES by Jack Thurston is priced £14.99 from Wild Things Publishing. Buy a copy for just £12.99 (£9.99 – 33% off – plus £3.00 P&P) by entering the code ST13 at www.wildswimming.co.uk/lostlanes. Offer ends 30th September 2013.