Riding further (for fruit)

When the fruit farm’s website announced the ripening of the strawberries, we knew exactly where our family ride that Sunday would take us.

A child in a blue t-shirt rides a bike away down a farm track.

The farm is in the next town over, across the flood plain. Its fields straddle the route of an old railway line, although sadly not one that’s been reborn as a greenway. But with some local knowledge, it’s possible to weave a route there across a golf-course bridleway, through a disused army camp track, along quiet lanes and beside a B road on a neglected cycle path. The circuitous route makes it feel like a secret way, known to us but long forgotten by locals who rarely venture out of their cars and away from tarmac.

Crossing the golf course on the bridlepath is a curious business. The path cuts right across the middle, severing fairways and skirting greens. When I first rode it I expected golfers to resent my presence on their immaculate grass. But they’re always friendly, often waving me across before they take their shots or offering cheery thanks when I stop to wait for them to play. And so it was again that morning as we followed the line of white posts that mark the path.

A close-up of bright red strawberries, freshly picked and still on their green stalks.

We made good progress along the tracks and lanes, arriving just as the farm shop opened. Selecting two punnets of strawberries, we stowed them in our saddle bags, bid the friendly farm chickens farewell, and set off along a nearby track for a picnic.

We sat and ate (not the strawberries; we wanted those for later) and G photographed the buttercups for his school half-term project. Aged seven, he was half way through what would be – by the time we retraced our route home – the longest ride of his life. Like so much else, he took all 32km of it in his stride. That’s what the first strawberries of the season can do for you.