When I was fourteen, my father (an army officer) was posted from Fulwood Barracks outside Preston to Bulford Camp in Wiltshire, so off we went. Bulford Camp was one of the largest army bases in the country and my parents had been posted there before, but this was the first time for me and my numerous siblings. I remember that I wasn't very happy at all at Balshaw's Grammar School in Leyland, so I was probably very glad to move.
Unfortunately, the only option for a grammar school boy was Bishop Wordsworth's School in Salisbury, 20 miles away. This meant a 40 minute bus ride every morning and afternoon, with a decent walk at each end, but I made friends very quickly at school (it helped to be taken under the wing of Phil Davies, another Bulford camp brat - Phil, where are you now, mate?). I must have got used to the bus trips, too, I hardly remember them at all now. I also started to show some academic prowess. I wonder now if I did so well at Bishop's because it was a single-sex school, unlike Balshaw's which was mixed. I also made friends on the Camp and wish I was still in touch with them.
When I was sixteen (1976) my Dad retired from the army and bought a house on the outskirts of Salisbury. This meant that I could walk or ride my bike to school very easily, but was a long way from my Bulford Camp friends. I had already taken to relatively long bike rides through the gorgeous countryside around Salisbury and thought I could manage a ride back to Bulford.
There were two routes - the main road, via The High Post Hotel, or the back road through the Woodford Valley, wonderful scenery but a bit longer. I think I tried both (I remember coming back on the main road with my dynamo-powered front light blazing on the descent from the High Post), but the Woodford run sticks in my memory. I would love to ride it again with Paddy's helmet camera, but here are some Google'd images to whet your appetite.
This is the Wheatsheaf pub in Lower Woodford (the biggest villages in the valley are Lower, Middle and Upper Woodford). Pretty good food and beer to be had here. There used to be a holiday cottage across the road that Susan and I rented a few times.
This is the River Avon (no, not that one - there are many Avons in the UK) at Middle Woodford. The river is right by the road here.
This picture-postcard shot is Lake House, in the village of Lake. You can't see this view from the road, sadly. My main memory of this stretch of the ride is a sharp left turn at the bottom of a hill - brakes on all the way down. Lake House is now owned by Sting.