Local Loops - Birdman’s Rolling Hills

Local Loops - Birdman’s Rolling Hills

I’ve cycled in and around Surrey since I started riding back in 2011. Over that time, I’ve explored a great deal of my local patch, both on and off road. I wanted to share a couple of favourite local loops of mine, taking in some of the best that my neck of the woods has to offer. Bluebell woods, vineyards, rolling country lanes, ducks, geese, farms shops, space labs, village stores, cafes, single track and ice cream await!  

The start and end of most rides will involve the centre of the cycling community here, which is at G!RO Cycles. It’s an ideal meeting point with great coffee and pastries to get you fuelled for a ride and plenty of options for post-ride refreshments.

 Words & Photos by Matt Falconer


Birdman's Rolling Hills, Esher, Surrey, UK
90 km / 1200vm


My ideal loop for those warm sunny days where you have four or so hours or more if you fancy coffee stops. It’s a steady 90km taking in some lesser-known lanes through the Surrey Hills with a pinch of mixed surface perfectly suited to road bikes, mainly my Curve Belgie Ultra. Leaving G!RO, we head out to Cobham down the Portsmouth road – the one busyish part of the route, but leaving at Standard G!RO Time (SGT – our usual rollout time), it’s often quiet. After Cobham, we’re in the lanes and out and through to Effingham. Before you know it you’re climbing up Beach Avenue and the serene quiet of Hogden Lane, which opens out onto Ranmore. This is a glorious little lane, especially in Spring when the bluebells bloom.

Ranmore Common is at the heart of the Surrey Hills, and you would be hard-pressed to plot a ride around here and not end up on it. The delights of Crocknorth, Whitedown and Denbies Vineyard are all tied in. I often like to take the fast road down into Dorking, which can be a thrill (watch out for cars turning into the dump at the bottom). However, if I feel a little more chilled, I might head down past Ranmore Church and into Denbies. If you haven’t ridden through the vineyard at Denbies, I would make a point of fixing that as soon as you can. Through each season, it can feel like you are transported to France. It’s early in the ride, but there’s a farm shop at the bottom of the hill if you fancy some refreshments.

The next destination is the Betchworth Golf course, whichever route down to Dorking you take. This part involves a little mixed surface as you head down the Old Coach Road and out onto Old School lane, where the quiet lanes will take you down to Newdigate. These lanes are a bit of a cheat to get around some of the lumps like Cold Harbour and Leith Hill but are a joy to ride as the surface is often great and roads quiet. Heading through Capel and across the A24 towards Ockley, we turn off onto one of my favourite little lanes – Weare Street, a quiet lane that weaves and undulates through the trees. Some of the surface is glorious new tarmac, but some are old and broken – enjoy the good stuff while you can, but take care! If you want to stop for a picnic, there’s a pond halfway along with a bench – but watch out for the ducks and geese; they will snatch your lunch out of your hand if you are not careful.

After Weare street, the route crosses the A29 into more meandering lanes, which head back up to the hills. A decent climb up past the Holmbury Mullard Space Science Laboratory and onto Radnor before a long descent through the pine trees and bracken of Hurtwood down into Peaslake. The Village Stores do a good cup of tea, as well as a range of sandwiches and cakes if you fancy some lunch here.
Next is a steady climb towards Winterfold, and one of my favourite routes through the Surrey Hills. This skirts along the top of Winterfold woods, past the summit of the Barhatch and Alderbrook climbs, before descending through Shophouse Lane into Farley Green. A little more descending and a few twists and turns, and the road opens up into the small picturesque village of Shere. A personal favourite for me is to get a scoop or two from Shere Delights – a small Gelato and Coffee shop with a small courtyard opposite next to a river and more ducks.

This is always a great place to regroup after descending into the village before heading back. One last hill awaits you: Coombe Lane. Probably the least bad option for getting back over the Surrey Hills with just one steep corner needing a bit of a kick to get over. After this, if I have a bit of time, I will descend Staple Lane and enjoy the glorious lanes meandering back to Cobham. If I need to get back, I will drop down Green Dene. Both are beautiful descents and are in my top 3 in the Surrey Hills. Staples for the views and Green Dene for the thrill of twisting and turning through the trees. Green Dene benefits from a fast run in back to Cobham, which can be fun if you have some legs left and fancy burning them off before getting back to G!RO in Esher!


You can find the GPX file HERE

There are many alternatives for this route and it is equally as good in reverse. Reach out to me if you have any questions about the route or alternatives or want to go for a ride! Find me on Twitter & Instagram with @b1rdmn, and please check out my website mattonabike.com for some stories of my adventures of ultra-cycling racing.

Hard to find a route with so much in! Pre-ride rituals at G!RO Cycles.

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