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Combining Motorbike Touring with Training

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uffington

Watch out – Tiger loose in Oxfordshire!

And north Wiltshire too. Ok, so it’s a Triumph Tiger! Had you worried though.

After visiting my Dad in hospital, I decided on a long way home from Swindon and thought a trip to Uffington White Horse was called for.

Tiger by the Uffington White Horse
Tiger by the Uffington White Horse

The route went up through Wanborough, straight to Hinton Parva, Bishopstone, Idstone, Ashbury, finally turning back down to Woolstone following signs for Shrivenham and then Highworth. From Highworth its back to the A419 and turning right down the hill all the way home!

From Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uffington_White_Horse

“The Uffington White Horse is a highly stylised prehistoric hill figure, 110 m (360 ft) long, formed from deep trenches filled with crushed white chalk. The figure is situated on the upper slopes of White Horse Hill in the English civil parish of Uffington (in the county of Oxfordshire, historically Berkshire), some 8 km (5 mi) south of the town of Faringdon and a similar distance west of the town of Wantage; or 2.5 km (1.6 mi) south of Uffington.”

It is from the Bronze Age and around 3,000 years old!  There is an iron age fort up there too. Worth a walk round, especially on a day like today. The views are amazing! You can see all the way to Wales!

We stopped  en-route to take a snap by Westmill Wind Farm and Solar Park. Five windmills all told, no noise to be heard so not sure what the fuss is all about – ok they don’t enhance the scenery I agree, but……

Westmill Wind Farm & Solar Park
Westmill Wind Farm & Solar Park

Nice warm-ish day of around 10degs, but gusty at times. Sun was out so I felt great!

This ride is a nice little ride, some of the roads are quite narrow and have grit down the middle. They are really ancient tracks with tarmac so be warned! There was mud in places from the local farmyards which made for a slippery patch every now and then. But, I think I’m lucky to live so close by to some wonderful scenery. We take it all for granted don’t we!

The route we took:

Happy days!  Just thinking about some of the place names, such as Idstone – I now need to know where that name came from!

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Wantage – the “Great” ride!

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 weren’t 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.

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