Past Ride

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Sat May 14th 2011
Bluebell ride in the Chilterns 1*/2* 1*
Steve Swanton
Start Time:
2:00 pm
Start Location:
Stoke Row (SU 678 841)
Or maybe it should be " Spot the last of the bluebells" as everything has been so early this year...

This will be a 1*/2* easy-paced ride of about 23 miles with some ups and downs, a refreshment stop and a stroll in Cowleaze Wood (site of the former Chilterns Sculpture Trail) to see (any remaining) bluebells there

We'll meet in front of the Maharajah's Well in Stoke Row and first make a loop southwards through the woodland around Checkendon before riding northwards through Nuffield, Cookley Green, past Christmas Common and on to Cowleaze Wood (15 miles). We'll stop for refreshments (please bring your own) and spend some time exploring the woods. We'll return by the same route to Cookley Green and complete a more easterly loop back to Stoke Row via Nettlebed. We should be back before 5pm.

Please let Steve know you are planning to come. On the day his mobile no. will be 07857 527990.
The Quiet Lanes through the Chiltern beechwoods made for a refreshing change from cycling the open spaces of Vale, although in places the road surfaces were rather poor. However, we were not hurrying and there was time to take in our surroundings and avoid the potholes.

After stopping briefly to admire the Maharajah’s Well, we first headed south, descending steadily through the woods towards Gallowtree Common. Inevitably there followed a climb, but a steady gentle one, back up to Checkendon. When the sun came out, it even felt warm.

It stayed dry on our outward leg, although beyond Christmas Common the road was wet from a recent shower. We stopped as planned on the picnic area at the north end of Cowleaze Wood, for a picnic without tea (we forgot the thermos). While some had a rest, others had a brief stroll in the woods to see what remained of the bluebells – there were still a few. If only they hadn’t been 2 weeks early!

After our stop, the temperature had dropped and we could see rain approaching from the west. We were unable to avoid it, but managed to pull off at a convenient junction to don our cagoules just as the heavens opened. Cycling towards Nettlebed on the B481, there were dark dry tunnels under the trees between (very) wet light open stretches. Steve Q, who’d cycled to the start, decided to turn off towards Wallingford and Didcot from Nettlebed, while the rest of us continued downhill to Highmoor Cross. With wet hands and open-fingered gloves, the descent was perishing!

The sting in the tail of the ride was the final climb back up to Stoke Row from the bottom of Witheridge Hill, but everyone took it steadily in low gear, the rain stopped and it warmed us up. Back to Stoke Row slightly later than planned at 5:20, it had been an enjoyable ride and afternoon out. Thanks to all for coming.


P.S. Michael discovered that there is a very convenient car park behind the village hall in Stoke Row, almost opposite the well, which makes a good starting point for a car-assisted ride.

P.P.S. Ironically, after a year since coming this way, like London buses, Nick’s ride the following day also passed through Stoke Row...
37.82 km (23.50 mi)
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Start Locations
Wantage Market Place
Old Mill Hall, Grove
1* - Suitable for irregular, social, beginner or family riders, pace will match the slower riders. Not hilly or long. Expect rides up to 3 hours. Gentle exercise.
2* - Suitable for regular riders who prefer to cover some distance but at a more relaxed pace. Likely to be half-day rides. Solid exercise.
3* - Suitable for experienced riders, may be hilly, long, quick, or any combination! Likely to be half or full-day rides. Challenging exercise.
4* - Suitable for athletic riders who can ride safely above the 3* standard. Quick rides for the fit.
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