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northleach

Northleach – for an evening ride

Northleach – for a pleasant evening ride out (apart from that rain shower!) – 48 miles or so.

Decided to have a burble on KES this evening. Thought we’d do a run up the Fosse Way to Northleach and back via Burford and Lechlade.

Northleach was once an important wool town of the area standing just off the crossroads of the old Roman road, the Fosse Way. Its Church of St Peter & St Paul’s will prove this with its collection of memorial brasses. The town itself is very traditional in it’s appearance with honey coloured Cotswold stone in abundance.

This route also provided me with some great long sweeping bends and a mix of small single lane riding. Challenging in many ways as I’m trying to ride correctly whilst admiring the scenery which two activities are not necessarily compatible.

Leaving Cricklade, we used the A419 to the Cirencester junction with the A429 (Fosse Way).

Turning right at the roundabout, then straight over at the next, and taking the left at the lights, we started a nice ride on the Fosse Way. Being a Roman road, this was nice and straight for the most part with some hidden dips – so be careful when overtaking. 9 miles later, we turned right at lights into Northleach.

This was my first time in Northleach and I can’t understand why I have never been here before. I was pleasantly surprised at how pretty Northleach was. The high street turned into a typical Cotswold main square. So much so I think I will have to bring the other Gentlemen Bikers here, Richard W and Richard G, very soon for a cuppa tea when we are en-route on one of our longer rides together.

Burbling through Northleach and following signs to Aldsworth, this turned into a “follow your nose” trip as the signs were not always obvious to me anyway. Luckily, following signs for Burford got us to Aldsworth, and then meandering through some little country lanes we ended up on the right road.

At the top of Burford, unfortunately we didn’t go through this pretty Cotsowld town, turned right to take the road to Lechlade. En-route we passed one of my favourite places, Cotswold Wildlife Park – I’ve been coming here since we moved to the area back in 1974! I now bring my children here at least once a year – whether they like it or not.

Then from Lechlade we headed towards Fairford along a nice road, then turned right at the petrol station along one of my least favourite local roads, due to its condition which is a shame as it passes through some very pleasant villages, to the A419 for a short stretch back to Cricklade.

All in all a rather nice evening jaunt with KES.

The route I used – Cricklade, Northleach, Aldsworth, Burford, Lechlade, Kempsford, Cricklade. There is plenty of opportunity to “go wrong” on this route so unless you are short of time, allow yourself to “go wrong” and take some side roads or lanes – just to see what is down there.

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Cheltenham Gallop – via the back roads avoiding the A419/417 and back again – which turned into following your nose as the notorious Cheltenham one way system can be rather confusing!

The estimated journey this time was approx 58 miles. Well, it would have been if any of us knew the way back from Cheltenham that is! Still, no rush, this is half the fun.

Getting to Cheltenham was fine. We all knew the route as we had done it years ago before the A419/417 is what is now. This was the route that takes in some great sweeping bends and some good straights to really open up on (obviously no more than 60mph of course). So we were all looking forward to this Saturday morning ride.

Starting from Cricklade Town Hall with two mates, Richard George and Richard Williams, we left at around 8am ish. Richard W stating as we were leaving he had to be back no later than 10am as his wife and daughter were going shopping.

At the start of the ride edited

So, ignoring this comment, we used the A419 to get to Cirencester, but this was only for the first 6 miles or so. It gave us a good chance to get the bikes warmed up.

Heading past the reclaim centre and Dobbie’s garden centre out onto a short section of dual carriageway; over at that bloody awful roundabout beside Tesco and straight across the next roundabout eventually turning right onto the A435 to Cheltenham.

Arriving in Cheltenham, we headed into the centre where we stopped opposite the Town Hall. There were two reasons for this; one to get a photo of us in Cheltenham so we would remember the ride; and secondly, to work out our return route. The latter being up for discussion as none of us really knew the best way back. So, hence, we ended up following our noses around the ring road eventually taking the route via Oxford.

RG and PG editedRichard Wiliams and Richard George edited

Cheltenham is a really nice Georgian spa town with loads of fine shops, museum, and many a tasty eating place. What it also has is a revered one way system. If you don’t know where you want to go it is bloody difficult to find your way out again. However, we did have our cunning plan – following our noses! Which we did, and ‘lo and behold, we left Cheltenham pretty much the same way we came in.

Stuck behind one of those slow drivers in a queue of traffic, again, we pootled along at a steady 35-40mph only having one chance to get past when a dual carriageway finally appeared.

Crossing the Fosse Way at Northleach and the prison pub, we headed in the direction of Burford, only turning right somewhere around Aldsworth towards Bibury (Richard W wanted another look). I can’t really be sure of this section as it was all a blur and I was paying more attention to the road and scenery than the direction we were travelling! But who cares, the riding was fun so going the “wrong” way didn’t seem to matter. In fact, there is no wrong way, so why worry?

We got to Bibury via the Swan Hotel road, and promptly rode through to take the route back home which was the reverse of the Bibury Burble. Coln Saint Aldwyn, Quenington, Fairford and finally back to Cricklade.

There are two bad parts to this journey – one, the road between Fairford is atrocious; and the roundabout at Tesco in Cirencester. Apart from that, great couple of hours riding in some great countryside with a couple of good mates!

When I write these blogs, I tend not to give accurate road numbers as I believe in having a general plan and then adapting to suit whatever you want to do. Hence the reason why I’m not entirely sure of how we got back home, just that we did.

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