Start: The Buttercross, Witney, OX28 6AF
Our Explorer rides are designed to encourage cyclists from all over the county (and beyond) to explore areas they are not yet familiar with. They are guided by experienced riders who know the best routes – and the best tea shops!
Our September Explorer Ride is hosted by CTC Witney and will be taking us along the beautiful Windrush Valley (passing through Minster Lovell, Burford and Sherborne) to Northleach for a refreshment stop before returning through the Southern Cotswolds. This a real cycle tourists route with some lovely narrow country lanes, pretty Cotswold villages, scenic views and a few ups and downs on the way, but nothing major (and with the bigger climbs before lunch and most of the descending afterwards). The round trip is nearly 47 miles, with an option or two for a coffee or beer stop on the way back. our ride leader will be Neil Tigwell.
Starting point will be the Buttercross in the centre of Witney. For those travelling in by car, there is free parking in the Leys, overlooking the playing fields off Station Lane (see link to map below). If you are planning to come it would be helpful to let Neil know so that we have some idea of numbers.
Steve writes: 6 out on the Explorer ride today, regular trio of Neil, Mark and Kevin from Witney, me and Des from Wantage (Des used to ride with West Oxon), and Julian Gough (another former West Oxon regular) returning to a club ride for the first time in (possibly) 10 years. Good to see you Julian!
It proved to be a lovely route on a gloriousy sunny day, taken at a steady pace and with two new cafes for some of us – the Sherborne village store, where we stopped for Bacon Butties, and the village shop in Coln St. Aldwyns.
One of the features of early autumn is the clearness of the air and the views along the Windrush valley were just glorious as we cycled steadily westwards from Witney. Neil introduced me to a lovely cut-through at Crawley, which, making use of a 20-yard section of bridleway, cuts a huge chunk off the corner of the road to Minster Lovell. We progressed steadily through Asthall Leigh, Swinbrook, Burford, Little Barrington and Windrush, reminding me just why this is one of my favourite areas to cycle in Oxfordshire The original plan was to stop in Northleach as Neil had expected the Sherborne cafe to be very busy (it is very popular with cyclists and walkers during the summer, apparently). However, on arrival there were tables free, so we stopped. And very pleasant it was too, sitting in the Autumn sunshine with good coffee and bacon butties, for less than a fiver.
Mark (who'd had a cold decided to return from here) but the remaining 5 of us continued southwards (avoiding Northleach) to Coln for our second stop at a second community shop (this was real cafe to cafe cycling). Eventually we dragged ourselves away, continuing through Hatherop to the Eastleaches. It came as something of a shock to see no-one sitting outside the Victioria Arms as we cycled through – another village pub, and a much frequented lunch destination over the years, gone.
As we continued on through Filkins, Langford and the gated road to Clanfield, the wind picked up in our faces, and we kept in close formation for most of the ride back to Witney. We were back in Witney about 2:45. Thanks Neil, for an enjoyable day out.