Richard G and I decided to take the scenic route to Wantage via the Uffington White Horse and return through Faringdon, Lechlade and Fairford. What a great ride it turned into. A huge variety of difficult bends alongside some fantastic countryside vistas passing through some quintessential English villages that could so easily have been painted by Constable along the way!
Leaving Cricklade, we headed south along the A419 to the Common Head roundabout where we took the first left to Wanborough. Lower Wanborough has a fine selection of decent village hostelries offering plenty of choices of good beer and food. However, we werent stopping so headed straight on through up Pack Hill crossing at the Callas Hill and High Street cross roads heading out to Wantage.
Hinton Parva was the first village we went through. Rather than taking the short cut via the Water Garden we took the long route which was very pleasant indeed. Winding through the village provided a short taster of what was to come further along the way.
Next came Bishopstone. This is probably my favourite village along our route which is due to the large duck-pond in the centre (apparently no funding from central government here!).
This road also forms part of the Icknield Way which is an ancient track connecting Norfolk to Wiltshire and is reputed to be one of the oldest roads in Great Britain. It may have been named after the Iceni tribe (Queen Boadicea).
Through Bishopstone, Ashbury and finally nearing Uffington, we turned right up to the White Horse Hill car park for a pit-stop and for me to remove one layer from my jacket as it was a rather warm day.
The Uffington White Horse is a Bronze age (between 800BC and 100AD) carving into the chalk hills. It is more of a symbolic horse and there has been speculation as to what it might really have been; though a horse is what it has been known as since around the 11th Century. Surrounding the hill-top is an Iron Age fort. Nearby is Dragon Hill, where St George, as legend has it, slayed the dragon; the blood that dripped can still be seen carved into the chalk mound. A short walk from here gets you to Waylands Smithy burial mound built in the shape of a cross around 3700BC, which is long before Christ was born!
Turning right from White Horse Hill we burbled onto Wantage which is only a short distance of 5 miles or so away.
Wantage is a small market town in the Vale of the White Horse in Oxfordshire and is also the birthplace of King Alfred in 849. It has a pleasant market square which is accessible to cars and motorbikes alike. There are plenty of shops and places to have a snack or drink at here. Leaving the market square and heading in the direction of Grove, we passed by a water powered mill which I believe dates to around the late 18th Century.
Heading to Grove, home of the F1 racing team Williams, we then started looking for signs to Kingston Baguize or Faringdon, and again we flowed through some very quaint Oxfordshire villages with watermills and streams. We should have looked at the map as we aimed for Kingston Bagpuize as a way to get to the A420, but missed it. Instead from Grove, we went via Denchworth, through to Charney Bassett from there, not too sure how we got to the A420 but then, never mind! It was worth a detour to see some very pretty Oxfordshire villages!
Onto the A420 we headed to Faringdon where we then went through to Lechlade and onto Fairford. From there to Marston Meysey and then to Cirencester. We blasted home, only at 70mph of course, on the A419 back to Cricklade. Total trip around 65miles or so; we were certainly riding for a good couple of hours.