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A Cotswolds Canter

by
Willie Gall


With a couple of days break from my cycle training work and the weather looking favourable, I managed to organise a last minute extended weekend break in the South Cotswolds.

A train to Swindon was followed by a circuitous but fairly flat ride to my accommodation at the Royal Oak in Tetbury. The roads were quiet through pleasantly rolling countryside in bright sunshine. I had a welcome late lunch and refreshment stop at the New Inn, Upper Seagry, and continued further west before turning north in the rising temperatures - over 34 according to my bike computer! Thankfully the Royal Oak had a good selection of ales to quench my thirst on arrival.

Royal Oak

The Royal Oak.

My accommodation was of a good standard and the pub was very friendly and welcoming. Following a much needed shower, I had a nice dinner whilst watching England's second string players loose an inconsequential World Cup match to Belgium.

Cherington

Cherington.

Cherington

My morning route north towards the Cotswolds took me through Cherington and on to Minchinhampton, where I stopped to admire the church with its unusual stunted spire. Following a coffee break I had a wander around the market square with its market house supported by stone columns.

Minchinhampton

Holy Trinity Church, Minchinhampton.

Minchinhampton

Minchinhampton

Market House, Minchinhampton.

Minchinhampton

Minchinhampton

Minchinhampton Common - Views over Golden Valley to Stroud.

Minchinhampton

Minchinhampton

The heat was quite energy sapping as I meandered around Minchinhampton Common to take in the views over the Golden Valley. I eventually descended into the valley, crossed the Thames and Severn Canal and had a lunch break in Stroud.

Butterrow

Golden Valley from Butterrow.

Butterrow

Thames and Severn Canal at Bowbridge.

I returned up hill as far as Butterrow and followed a narrow undulating road along the valley side. The sultry weather meant that a further refreshment stop was necessary before returning to Tetbury via Avening.

Butterrow

Butterrow Tollhouse.

Butterrow

Butterrow

Across the Golden Valley.

For my final full day I was determined to get further into the Cotswolds, so after once more passing through Cherington I took a steadily rising route north. I dropped down into a steep sided valley and through the village of Dunitsbourne Abbots where I gave myself a bit of extra climbing by initially choosing the wrong road back out of the valley.

Further steep descents and climbs through scenic wooded valleys eventually took me to Miserden where I'd decided to take a break in the village local the Carpenters Arms. Once more the respite from the heat was very welcome and I chose to stay inside rather than join the majority of the customers in the garden.

I wished to make a return visit to the Daneway Inn, which I could recall cycling to around 40 years ago. From Miserden this was a gentle downhill ride ending with a steeper descent into the valley. The inn was originally built to accommodate workers who dug the nearby but now disused canal tunnel. I got here just in time for another World Cup match between France and Argentina, which proved to be one of the better games of the tournament and was a pleasant way to relax out of the ever increasing heat outdoors.

Following the final climb out of the valley and passing through Frampton Mansell, it was a fairly easy ride back to Tetbury.

Frampton Mansell

Frampton Mansell.

Only having to get back to Swindon and with temperatures continuing to rise, I was in no hurry to get going on my final morning. After breakfast, I wandered into the centre of Tetbury to admire the market house and the picturesque Chipping Steps lined with old weavers cottages.

Tetbury

Market House, Tetbury.

Tetbury

Chipping Steps, Tetbury.

Tetbury

Tetbury

I took a meandering route through Crudwell, Minety and Ashton Keynes to Cricklade as the temperature soared, peaking at just over 37 according to my bike computer. I felt as if I was in meltdown as I arrived at the Red Lion where there was a beer festival going on in the back yard but I didn't have the energy to investigate this and barely made it to the nearest available table with my pint - brewed on the premises.

Suitably revived by a couple of ales I was ready for the final few miles to Swindon on National Cycle Network Route 45, which I temporarily lost in a housing estate on the outskirts of the town. I had time for a final pint in a pub opposite the station before catching my train back to Paddington.


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