We had to go back to 2008, 2014 and 2017 have been the intervals on which we have started from this spot. So it will be nice to reacquaint ourselves. If you are coming from the Southampton direction, take the A31 westwards all the way to Ringwood. At the bottom of Poulner Hill you take the slip road off and turn back towards Southampton, get on the eastbound side of the dual carriageway and go back up Poulner Hill again. When you get almost to the top of the hill, there is a nursery/garden centre on the left. Go past this and then take the next turn left onto a narrow side road to head towards Hangersley and Shobley and ultimately to the car park at Linford Bottom. The routes available are across Rockford Common, Linwood, Ibsley Common and on towards Abbots Well or perhaps southwards via the underpass at Picket Post towards Burley Street, Dur Hill, Bisterne Common and Holmsley.
A dry period will give you a mixture of rutted horse-hoof stutter or dry sand that challenges directional control and needs a good push on the pedals whereas a wet, soggy period will give you a squelching, slippery track surface or a gritty grinding paste guaranteed to make you rush to the shop for new brake pads next morning. You will also need to pedal with a bit more vigour over this terrain. This early in the year there is no guaranteeing which way the dice will fall.