Bike Week 2006

Posted on June 17th, 2006

England’s Last Major Folly…

Saturday 17 June 2006

Faringdon Folly amongst the trees on Folly Hill

To mark the start of this year’s Bike Week, I managed to arrange a special opening of Faringdon folly tower as the destination for a leisurely Saturday afternoon ride for Wantage CTC. The tower, situated in a clump of trees on the top of “Folly hill”, is renowned as England’s last major folly (it was only built in 1935), which has extensive views over the Thames Valley and Vale of the White Horse. Despite its proximity, we hadn’t managed to organise a ride there when it was open before (or a special opening). The idea proved so popular that it turned into an Oxfordshire DA event.

On a sunny and hot afternoon, I led a group of 15 or so riders from Grove, heading out via Goosey and Baulking to Fernham and over Fernham hill to Faringdon. The final climb was via the footpath on the south side of folly hill and then into the trees to reach the tower. We arrived to find bicycles of various shapes , sizes and loadings arrayed around the foot of the tower (several Bromptons and two fully-loaded tourers among them – James and Rosie having called in at the end of a cycle tour) . We were joined by riders from Lambourn, Oxford (thanks to Ed for leading this) and West Oxon, and a number non-riders, some 30 in all. Given the heat, we particularly appreciated Richard turning up with some large bottles of water to help cool us down. Meanwhile Steve gave Jane a water-bottle shower!

Most made the somewhat vertigo-inducing climb to the upper room and then up onto the roof itself to enjoy the views. Unfortuantely, the atmosphere proved somewhat hazy – to the extent that we could barely make out Didcot power station to the east (probably a blessing in disguise?). Back down to earth, picnic rugs were spread out on the grass in the shade of the tower and an array of goodies had appeared for all to share. A mellow half-hour was spent having our fill and catching up with friends from the other groups.

Wantage riders returned to Grove via the Coxwells, Fernham, Shellingford and Charney Bassett – a leisurely round-trip of about 27 miles. Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon out.

With thanks to Mike Cornley, Secretary of the Faringdon Folly Tower Trust, for opening up for us.

For more information about Wantage CTC please click here.

For more information about Bike Week please visit

© Copyright Steve Swanton 2006

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