Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Bikepacking The Ridgeway National Trail

One of my tick list items completed over the weekend. Cycled the whole Ridgeway National Trail. 87 miles off road from Overton Hill near Avebury to Ivinghoe Beacon. I did this with 5 friends, it was a great weekend some tough cycling with heavy gear as we were bikepacking but we did have a proper laugh doing it. Especially when hiding from the rain in the pub(s)

We were dropped off in Avebury excitedly geared up and set off to Overton Hill the start of the trail. When got there we stopped for the obligatory photos of the sign and bikes etc. The trail started with a gentle climb trying to avoid pedal contact whilst cycling in deep tracks. It wasn’t long before we could see Barbury Castle, the Trail went steeply up straight through the centre of this Iron Age fort. A lovely section across open grass land which presented some great views all around followed then a long taxing climb up Round Hill Downs above Ogbourne St George. 

We then past close to Liddington Castle and a fun descent down to a road section across the M4 motorway, it now that the first spots of rain appeared so on came the ‘boil in the bag’ shell rain jackets. Next notable landmark was Wayland’s Smithy a Neolithic long barrow and chamber tomb; it was a good place for short stop and bite to eat. The rain had thankfully stopped and we then continued on past Uffington Castle and then Letcombe Castle we were now requiring lunch and luckily one of the guys knew of a café close by so we headed for Court Hill Centre. It was a great tea stop. I enjoyed some Beans on toast the food of champions, actually joking aside it was fantastic and really helped boost the energy levels.

We continued on and around Cuckhamsley Hill area that the rain really did come down, this made the going very slippy especially on the chalky track. Continuing like this for a few miles the rain really starting to hammer down now as we approached the road leading into Streatley. The Bull pub was just too inviting and we parked the bikes round the back and proceeded to walk in looking like drowned rats. This caused much banter and silly conversation within the pub all good natured and fun, besides we were just happy to be out the wet for a while. Eventually it was time to move on to the campsite, the rain had relented slightly so we followed the trail along the River Thames to Wallingford, then onto Shillingford and our campsite at Bridge House Campsite. It was basic, very basic. In fact almost felt like a wild camp. Composter toilet, open air shower. But it was all part of the fun and made for a talking point. Once pitched we spent the rest of the evening over the river in the Shillingford Bridge Hotel. We did have a good laugh.

Day 2 began with packing the stuff away and heading back to Wallingford. As the Ridgeway through the Chilterns is a mixture of Bridleway and footpath we had planned to use other Bridleways to combine the trail together to avoid the footpath. We picked up the Trail again and continued past Watlington for day 2 would be complete contrast to day 1 gone were the open chalk downs and now we were riding mostly on wooded sections. We passed Chinnor next then onto Princes Risborough and a coffee stop. After Risboro came the steepest climb of the whole weekend up Whiteleaf Hill, It was impossible to ride the bike up there we eventually pushed them up to the top and were faced with some spectacular views, so worth the effort. We then descended down past Chequers and then another uphill to Coombe Hill, perfect opportunity to stop and take photos at the monument.

We then descended into Wendover and a further ascent; there was a definite theme for day 2 very much up and down then up and down again. Eventually after a ride through Tring Park on the Icknield Way Trail we came out in Wigginton, next was the Ashridge Estate and another monument photo Next stop the finish Ivinghoe Beacon. And The Ridgeway Complete.

No comments:

Post a Comment