Dances with tanks
Unlike Poland, there are not many places in England, that can be legally used to ride off-road. At least it is hard for us – rookies, to find such information. We often hear about Wales, but these paths are for those who are definitely more advanced than us. We ask friends and it turns out that there is a huge training ground with off-road lanes. And it is about an hour and a half away from us, near Salisbury. We have to explore the area!
In order not to waste time and energy to travel on a day we want to ride, we set off in the evening the day before and spend the night in our favourite way – under a tent. We find a camping site near the mentioned training ground. We almost have all the field for ourselves, because apart from us, there is just one tent. Well, it is a weekday. Even better for us. We pitch a tent by the river, hang a hammock between trees and prepare dinner. The evening passes in a relaxing atmosphere.
We are welcomed by a sunny but cold morning. After breakfast, we pack and head to have some entertainment. A dozen kilometres further, we find a firing range but are not sure if it is here that riding is allowed. At the entrance we notice a board informing about the rules, prohibitions, orders and rights within the military area. You cannot miss it, it is huge with a long list to read! We learn from it we can ride on all roads marked as BYWAYs which are accessible to all users. There are also footpaths for pedestrians and bridleways for horse riders, which we do not have permission to ride on. In addition to its, there are forbidden lanes, which cannot be used by any civilian. The most surprising are roads marked up as permissive byways, on which you can ride, but have to give way to the military vehicles. Exciting!
The fact there are so many roads to choose from makes us very joyful. We can ride all day and still discover something new hardly meeting anyone on our way. One area is closed due to the training taking place here, but never mind – we still have a plenty of space to go crazy a bit. Of course, we do not stick our noses into a forbidden place. We also stay on the paths because of the possibility of unexploded shells outside of them. And so far we did not have bomb disposal training. 😉
The roads are mainly covered with gravel. We have a lot of fun going through shallow puddles. Sometimes our “favourite” ruts come up. I already know the theory from the book about riding through obstacles and try to put it into action. We have fun moving the weight of the body in different directions, allowing motorcycles to use their advantages in such a terrain, bending the legs more or less, or loosening the handshake, to let our steeds to carry us. We try, we learn and it goes quite well.
I will tell you a secret that before we came here, an imagination of our journey has been drawn. And right here, at one point we notice a similar view! With a small difference, that there are actually no mountains. It does not bother us. We capture this moment and it is so far our favourite picture.
We find a meadow near a shooting range, where we decide to take a break and have something to eat. We can hear shots coming out of rifles, every now and then an aeroplane or a Chinook helicopter passes over our heads. I know that these are only practices but still got a strange feeling while being there.
The break is over and we continue to ride! After some time on our own, we finally meet the company! … Tanks are coming! Slightly panicked, I try to make room for them moving aside, but with caution not to lose my balance. It turns out that the guys still miss us at some distance and wave hands to welcome us! We answer with the thumbs up. Until now, I have never seen tanks with soldiers riding at such a small distance. An exciting meeting!
It is late afternoon so enough of craziness for today. In the end, a small role swap – Łukasz cooks delicious dinner straight from a can, 😛 I check pressure and pump up the tyres. We pack ourselves on bikes and come back home before the nightfall.
The trip was great and we have to come back here again!