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Monday, 29 September 2008

English Journey (part 2)

On 14 Sep I went to Sibford Ferris in Oxfordshire, where I picked up NCR5 and rode to just north of Woodstock. This route, as I remembered from the last time I was in these parts, is quite hilly and passes through some rather pretty countryside. Mostly it is on country lanes with a few traffic-free sections. The route by-passes Banbury where I saw this interesting white windmill (pic 1). I returned from Woodstock by Chipping Norton (pic 2 is of the Bliss Tweed Mill), the Rollright Stones (pic 3) and Hook Norton, where I sampled some of the beers at the Pear Tree Inn (pic 4), which are brewed at he local microbrewery down the road.

I stayed on this occasion at Stow-on-the-Wold YHA and spent the evening at the Queen’s Head supping a few pints with another similarly-aged cyclist who was riding from Market Harborough to North Devon over four days. This was the first time I had stayed at this hostel since 1969 and I believe I slept in the same dormitory as on that occasion, but this time the warden didn’t have to repeatedly wake me in the morning because I had drunk too much cider the night before!

The next day I rode from King’s Norton (guillotine lock gates – pic 5) , just south of Birmingham, to Stratford on Avon via Bromsgrove and Redditch. For me, this was the best cycling I’ve done so far this month. The route out of Birmingham on the Rea Valley Trail (Heron – pic 6) and the Arrow Valley Park trail south of Redditch together contained relatively long traffic-free tracts. After Bromsgrove, the route crosses the Worces and Staffs Canal somewhere along the famous Tardebigge Flight (pic 7), probably the longest flight of locks on the canal system. The lanes of Warwickshire were quiet and included, near Coughton, a footbridge over the River Arrow next to a ford (pic 8). The road was flooded and therefore impassable, but not for bikes which can use the footbridge. The route passes by Mary Arden’s house (pic 9) and entry to Stratford is on the canal towpath. Wonderful! I took a train back to Birmingham.


Trexrider said...

I paid a visit to Mary Ardens cottage a couple of years ago, I had a guided tour and found it to be much more interesting than Shakespears birthplace. I can recommend it for anyone interested in the Bard.
And very nice pictures Les, wish I could ride my bike again!

But one day....


Anonymous said...

I followed (on the map) your route from Sibford Ferris to Stow - you did pick the hillier bits alright!
I am less sure how you got from Stow to Kings Norton the next day(unless by cider-induced teleportation??). I have done all the route from KN to Stratford - in bits - and agree it is scenic.

Clyde said...

I have to confess that my carbon footprint over this two-day jaunt was larger that I have been letting on in the narrative. I drove by metal box on 4 wheels from Heanor to Sibford, then Sibford to Stow, Stow to Kings Norton, train from Stratford to Yardley Wood, car again from KN to Heanor. Why did I chose such unlikely places to travel between? These were entirely dependent on the locations I had ended up at on previous rides: like Anonymous above, I have been doing these bits of the Sustrans West Midlands map piecemeal!

I have also a correction to make to the narrative. It has been brought to my attention that the Tardebigge flight cannot be on the Worces and Staffs Canal because this canal doesn't exist! It isn't either the Staffs and Worces. It is of course the Worces and Birmingham. Like Les in a previous posting, I was just testing that you were awake!