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Peter Genet

Gentleman Biker of Cricklade

Month

April 2014

To Bath via Tetbury, and home via Chippenham – just KES and me

Great morning for a ride – just KES and me this time; slightly misty, dry, and cool. Early start at around 6.15am to get petrol and head on out to Bath before rush hour really gets going.

Anyway, up the A419 to Cirencester; KES was a bit lively around the 70mph mark so had to fight hard to keep the speed legal. Off towards Tesco for petrol. Then headed out on the A429 to Tetbury making sure not to turn left at the A429 to Malmesbury junction (it is sign posted left and straight on to M4 and Bristol); keep straight ahead to Tetbury on the A435. There are some great swooping bends along this stretch road, but watch out for the numerous farm and side turnings as they can come up on you quite unexpectedly.

Once in Tetbury, KES burbled through at a nice steady pace following signs for the M4 which is easily and obviously marked. This road heads out to Westonbirt Arboretum which is a great for looking at trees, and the occasional concert – we saw Scouting For Girls there a couple of years ago where I found out that “Posh girls go like the clappers”!

Tetbury is a quaint Cotswold market town; full of the typical types of shops to be found at such a country town. Many of the buildings are made from traditional Cotswold stone and I think it will be a place to visit for a cuppa tea one Sunday afternoon, especially in Summer when it is warmer.

Leaving Tetbury, on the A433 (which is also the Bath Road by strange coincidence) you will eventually come to a ‘T’ junction. Taking a left turn, and watching the dip for hidden vehicles, follow the signs to the M4.

At the M4 roundabout I sat in the left lane as I was going straight over to Bath. On the other side is a dual carriageway so be wary of other vehicles turning off with you.

Onto the A46, this is the last 10 miles into Bath. No sense in rushing, sit behind the car in front and zip along at a steady 50mph or so. Down the hill, stick to the left lane (be aware of the speed camera as you drop down this hill – sometimes there is also a Police speed check here too), and at the roundabout I turned left along London Road to the centre of Bath.

Now, this road at weekends and rush hours can be congested. So, do it early. Or come in via Lansdown road, which back on the A46, make a right turn at the only roundabout between the M4 and Bath; then turn left and follow your nose.

Meanwhile, back in Bath, I headed for the city centre, bus station and railway station. There are plenty of spaces in the city centre to park your bike (or car if you are in one, but it is expensive).

Bath is a great place to visit and look around; there is a lot of history here what with the Roman Baths and the Abbey to spend some time at. There is also a fine selection of eateries for all budgets. Bath can be busy with tourists at most times of the year so be patient and make sure you speak slowly and loudly to them!

Heading home, I followed the signs to Chippenham which took me along the A4 through Box.

At Chippenham it is a matter of following signs now for the M4 and Cirencester; then for me, once on the outskirts of Malmesbury, I take the B4040 back to Cricklade.

The first part of the ride I enjoyed most; getting round Chippenham I don’t find that inspiring but it is a still a reasonable journey home which also has the added advantage of avoiding the M4. Bath was easy to get round, but as with Cheltenham, the one way system can catch you out – but never mind, if you go wrong you do get to see more of this rather ancient and pleasant city!

For the route planner – I entered, Cirencester, Tetbury, Bath, Chippenham, Malmesbury, Cricklade. Total journey of approx 82 miles. Time to do – as long as you like!

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.

Bibury "burble"

Not a long ride this time, approx. 31 miles from home and back, but it took in some wonderful countryside especially around Coln Saint Aldwyn just north of Quenington. This is a very nice route to take of an early spring evening just after the clocks went forward. This is a nice and easy journey, with only a couple of tricky corners – tricky in so much that I was paying more attention to the scenery than the road which is easily done as this route takes in some of the most beautiful sections of the Cotswolds.

The view between Quenington and Coln Saint Aldwyn is so quintessentially Cotswolds it’s almost cheesy. The Americans love it; in fact, as locals will know, Henry T Ford did try to buy the cottages at Arlington Row in Bibury – that’s how wonderful the scenery around here can be.

Along the route are ample pubs; especially at the time of day I was riding these seem to be the only places offering a refreshing drink of coffee or tea.

I love coming to Bibury, and often bring my family here too. This evening, even with the light fading, Bibury retained most of it’s charm. With the sun dropping, the atmosphere of the village alters. The river Colne continues to gurgle its way through the high street; the Swan Inn is still serving; the trout are still swimming; the best thing about this time of day is the quietness which is almost tranquil in itself. If I had more time, I would have stopped and had a mooch around.

Dating back to before Domesday records in 1086, Bibury sits on the River Colne which flows along the main street. It is a picturesque village with famously honey coloured 17th century mill cottages of Arlington Row which are, probably, the most photographed scene in the Cotswolds.

At the other end of the street is Arlington Mill, now a private residence, and next door is Bibury Tout Farm, where you can both feed and catch the trout to take home. There are tea rooms and pubs to eat and drink at. Parking is available opposite the Trout farm, along the main street and beyond, but it can be difficult to park on a nice day so get there early!

Heading out of Bibury towards Barnsley on a road that is not particularly the best road in terms of conditions, Barnsely is another Cotswold treat waiting. The instantly recognisable stone cottages appear and you instinctively know you are soon to arrive in yet another lovely village.

Moving on, now starting to think about getting home before it gets dark, I took the road back towards Fairford, turning off towards Meysey Hampton and Down Ampney. If time allows, stop in these two villages and you will get even more of the sense of the Cotwsolds. Top tip – visit the churches in all the villages and towns, and look around the graveyards. Sounds macabre, but it does fill you with a sense and wonder as to what once went on and what people did in these ancient villages.

Leaving Down Ampney, I headed back to Cricklade via Latton and a short section of the convenient A419.

A pleasant evening ride out – short but so very pleasant!

The route:- Cricklade; Kempsford; Fairford; Quenington; Bibury; Barnsley; Meysey Hampton; Down Ampney; Latton; Cricklade

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