Continuing with the Areas of Natural Outstanding Beauty (ANOB) series on this occasion we will cycle through the North Wessex Downs, a unique and spectacular landscape that includes tranquil open downland, ancient woodland and chalk streams in the centre of southern England. I have mapped a route that goes through historical places, heritage sites, White Horses and chalk land. We will climb the highest point in Berkshire (Walbury Hill) and in Oxfordshire (White Horse Hill). Rolling countryside with a few steep climbs but overall gentle gradients.
Start: We meet 8:00am at Paddington station, next to the ticket office. We will split in two services. The 8.18am and 8.35am to Newbury station. Please be punctual so that we can sort group savers. The return ticket will be approx £15 with the discount. The ride will start promptly at 9.25am from Newbury.
Route: We will cycle 100 miles along rolling terrain (total elevation is 6000ft, maximum gradient 9.3% and maximum ascent 838ft). This will be a challenging ride at a challenging pace only suitable for regular long distance cyclists. The ride will feature the following points of interest.
- Walbury Hill: the highest chalk down in England, and also the site of the largest hillfort in Berkshire, Walbury Camp. It is designated as a Scheduled Monument in recognition of its national importance.
- The Bruce Tunnel: on the summit pound of the Kennet and Avon Canal between Wootton Top Lock and Crofton Locks in Wiltshire, England. This is the only tunnel on the canal and it is 502 yards (459 m) long.
- The pretty villageof Avebury and it's Standing Stones (World Heritage site)
- Liddington Castle, locally called Liddington Camp, is a late Bronze Age and early Iron Age hill fort in the English county of Wiltshire.
- The internationally-renowned Bronze-Age Uffington White Horse, which can be seen for miles away leaping across the head of a dramatic dry valley in the Ridgeway escarpment.
PACE OF THE RIDE: This will be a long and strenuous ride at an average 15mph pace. There will b few if any stations en route so you need to feel confident about your fitness if you want to join us. Within reason we usually wait for slower riders. The group is over individuals so those who are not within the group's average pace will have to bail out. I tend to be the weakest link so if you fall behind me you will have to continue on your own. Conversely please note that this is a social event. This is not a race or a time trial. If you don't fancy riding in a group or waiting for someone that may be slightly slower or to have a chat whilst cycling or if you prefer riding solo and shooting off at your own pace please do not join us. We love cycling but we also enjoy the social aspect of it.
ATTENDANCE: Please only RSVP if your social/work calendar looks free for this Saturday. We don't welcome last minute cancellations . We rely on group savers for cheaper fares. Review our attendance policy please: if you cancel the day before or if you don't show up you may be removed from the group.
Stops: We don't really stop often. A toilet/mechanical stop when needed, maybe a quick snack break at 30 miles; lunch at about 70 miles and then steady until the end. However, this is a hilly ride and we may add occasional quick stops to catch our breath at the top of the hills. This group does not have a fix "every 15miles break" approach so be prepared for steady riding.
Lunch: Lunch will be at about 70 miles which should be around 3pm. Closer to the date I will confirm whether we should pack lunches or pubs are available at about this distance into the ride.
What to bring: Please buy snacks in advance. Don't delay the group asking to stop to buy them. You'll also need water to refuel regularly. Weatherproof gear. Spare inner tube(s), pump, a mobile phone and some cash. A Helmet is mandatory when you ride with us.
HEALTH & SAFETY: Cycling is fun and safe but no sporting activity is risk-free. To minimise such risk when you take part in our rides you will be expected to ride safely, wearing a helmet and abiding by the Highway code. No red light jumping, unexpected turns or dangerous overtaking will be accepted. If we feel you are putting other group members at risk you will be asked to bail out immediately. Please note that you join us at your own risk and that by joining us on this trip you understand, accept and agree to take all the risks inherent and expected from cycling on the roads exempting myself and your fellow riders for any accident/injury you may sustain. This should be read as a clause of exemption of liability for all purposes.
Return to London: We have 2 direct trains per hour back to Paddington. The journey is just under 1 hour. I guess you should expect to be back in London by 8pm the latest.
Weather : I will happily go ahead with forecast of drizzle and scattered showers. Anything less appealing like heavy rain and gust winds will result in cancellation of the event. Apologies in advance.
"One of the aims of the Cycling group is to appreciate of our natural surroundings, local towns and villages. We hope to minimise our impact by making sure that we are responsible for our litter. Please dispose of all of your litter and snack wrappers carefully".
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