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Moreton-on-Marsh Loop Cycle via The Brailes

Bicycle Ride · Cotswold
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  • Cycling Through Forest
    / Cycling Through Forest
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure Ltd
  • / Great Wolford Church
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure Ltd
  • / Rolling Fields in the Cotswolds
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure Ltd
  • / A Cotswold Cottage
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure Ltd
  • / Cycling Across a River Ford
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure Ltd
  • / Cotswold Houses in Blossom
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure Ltd
m 180 160 140 120 100 80 60 40 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 km
Plunge into the Cotswolds ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ today on narrow country lanes, over endlessly undulating hills, and through quaint villages of honey-coloured, vine-covered houses boasting exquisite and colourful gardens.
moderate
Distance 42.6 km
3:45 h
299 m
297 m

Starting from Moreton-on-Marsh today’s route heads out to the north-east using quiet backroads and country lanes to dart from one village to the next. It is a fairly hilly day with frequent undulations; at times the hills appear to tower over you but a few minutes later you are on top of them and gaze out over a vast plain of patchwork fields with small villages laying nestled in the crevices of the valley, almost entirely hidden except for the church steeple. The delightful backdrop for these fields and villages is always another row of hills (that you quite possibly have to cycle over!).

Most of the villages have a long history and can be found in the Domesday Book dating from 1066. The Brailes are mentioned, and derive from the word ‘Wood’, presumably indicating that the surrounding hills were once blanketed with forest. Today you will see a few big trees and small wooded sections, though the land has mostly been cleared and you will pedal beside grassy fields where lambs leap and beside golden fields of rapeseed or farmers harvesting wheat.

Author’s recommendation

There is always something that feels very adventurous about cycling across a river at a ford; it feels like some far-flung and exotic destination, and not what you expect in the Cotswolds! Why not give it a go today?
Profile picture of Josiah Skeats
Author
Josiah Skeats
Update: June 28, 2019
Difficulty
moderate
Technique
Stamina
Experience
Landscape
Highest point
172 m
Lowest point
72 m
Best time of year
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Safety information

This route take place mostly on rural roads, and drivers are generally used to seeing cyclists so are courteous, passing slowly and giving plenty of room. Be sure that your cycling is predictable with no erratic motions, and whenever you are changing roads, communicate that with hand signals.

There are some testing uphills and thrilling descents today, where it is tempting to let loose of the brakes and fly down; on these country roads however, it is important to cycle expecting the unexpected and adjust your speed appropriately, so whether there is a pothole, or an escaping sheep, you have enough time to slow down.

There are a few sections on busier roads but these are always fairly short. Before turning onto a busy road, it is advisable to consult the map and read the turn-by-turn directions, so you know where you are turning off and don’t have to stop on the edge of the road to check.

Today there is a river ford at the bottom of a downhill; be sure to check the depth of the water and the speed before crossing slowly and carefully through it. If the conditions don’t look suitable, or you don’t feel comfortable, there is a footbridge that you can walk your bike over.

Tips and hints

Points of Interest

Cotswold Distillery

Today you will pass right beside the Cotswold Distillery which specialises in Gin and Single Malt Whisky. They run tours 7 days a week, with every tour finishing in the tasting room to sample a range of their spirits.

More information available here: https://www.cotswoldsdistillery.com/pages/tour

 

Whichford Pottery

There is lots to explore at Whichford Pottery which you will pass right beside today. There are 30 potters who work here producing an exquisite selection of pots. You can stroll through the gardens, eat and drink homemade goodies in the café, watch the potters in action in the workshop, and look through the huge variety of pots created.

More information available here: https://www.whichfordpottery.com/visiting-us

 

Batsford Arboretum

Just 1 mile outside Moreton-on-Marsh, Batsford Arboretum is the largest private collection of trees and shrubs in England, spreading itself across a 56 acre swathe of land. The interest is year-round and depending on which season you visit, different plants will be flowering and stealing the limelight; maybe it will be the snowdrops, or maybe the Japanese cherry trees, or perhaps the handkerchief tree!

More information available here: http://www.batsarb.co.uk/

 

Food and Drink

You pass lots of small villages today but opportunities for food and drink are limited with most lacking a pub, café or shop. There is a tea garden in Cherington and a pub in Whichford where you can stop for drinks, snacks or lunch, but Moreton-on-Marsh has the best selection of places to eat and drink, or buy food to bring with you.

 

 

Start

Moreton-on-Marsh Market Hall/Clocktower (127 m)
Coordinates:
OS Grid
SP 20473 32438
DD
51.990024, -1.703251
DMS
51°59'24.1"N 1°42'11.7"W
UTM
30U 589040 5760722
w3w 
///going.signature.bronzes

Destination

Moreton-on-Marsh Market Hall/Clocktower

Turn-by-turn directions

0.00km – Start in the centre of Moreton-on-Marsh beside the Clocktower/Market Hall and the small roundabout. At the roundabout, head off Main Street and away from the clocktower, following the signpost to Kingham and Stow-on-the-Wold. CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON this road for 2.7 kilometres, ignoring all side roads.

2.70km – TURN LEFT following the signpost to Great Wolford. Immediately on your right you will see the Four Shire Stone, which is a big pillar marking the boundary between Warwickshire, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Oxfordshire.

5.80km – TURN RIGHT at the crossroads with the church directly in front of you.

6.20km – After the downhill out of Great Wolford, BEAR LEFT towards Little Wolford, ignoring the right turn.

8.50km – After reaching a T-junction with a busy road (A3400), TURN LEFT towards a cottage that looks like a castle. After 100 metres, TURN RIGHT following the sign to Brailes and Sutton.

11.00km – When you reach Cherington CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON as the road twists through the village. Continue for 1.1 kilometres, ignoring all side roads and heading towards the Brailes. There is a tea garden here where you can get a drink or snack.

12.10km – With the post box and community noticeboard ahead, TURN RIGHT following the sign to Whichford, Hook Norton, Ascott and the Cotswold Distillery, and ignoring the left turn towards ‘Brailes’. There are lots of undulating hills ahead.

15.00km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON through Whichford, and then with the football field and playpark on your right and the pub on your left, TURN LEFT towards Ascott, ½ a mile away. After 200 metres, BEAR RIGHT as the road forks, keeping the green triangle of land on your left, then CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON for 1.5km ignoring all side routes.

17.00km – After a steep uphill you will reach a T-junction; TURN LEFT onto a narrow lane heading slightly uphill towards Sutton-under-Brailes. After a small uphill you have a long downhill; Go slowly because at the bottom of the downhill is a river that runs across the road. There is a foot bridge which you can walk your bike over, but if you are feeling adventurous you can cycle through the ford! Be sure to check the river is only a maximum of a few inches deep, and then cycle slowly and carefully through.

19.60km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON towards Lower and Upper Brailes ignoring the left turn which is on Cycle Network Route 5 signposted to Sutton-under-Brailes.

21.40km – After the downhill in which you can see Lower Brailes nestled in the valley on your left you will reach a T-junction. Go slowly on the descent because this T-junction appears abruptly. At the junction TURN LEFT. After 500 metres, shortly after passing the 30mph speed signs, TURN RIGHT onto ‘The Park’ road towards Winderton and Industrial Estate. It looks like a residential road, but soon becomes a country lane.

24.10km – After a steep uphill section through the beautiful houses of Winderton, TURN LEFT at the T-junction, following signs to Brailes and Shipston, and heading towards the church and a barn.

25.40km – After a nice downhill from Winderton, TURN LEFT at the T-junction towards Brailes and Shipston.

26.70km – After a short uphill section past a farm on your right, the road makes a sweeping left-hand turn; TURN RIGHT and immediately BEAR LEFT, following the sign to Shipston 3½ miles away. There are expansive views behind you, looking across a plain of fields before a hilly backdrop.

26.90km – BEAR LEFT to remain on the road as it makes a sharp, sweeping left-turn.

27.50km – Shortly after cycling into Upper Brailes you will reach a T-junction beside a red post-box and the community noticeboard. TURN RIGHT onto the B4035 towards Shipston. This road is beautiful with wide views on both sides, though the road is slightly busier, so be sure to cycle carefully with no erratic movements. Continue straight for 3.9 kilometres.

31.20km – At the crossroads ¾ mile before Shipston, TURN LEFT following signs to Willington, Burmington and Barcheston. A blue sticker indicates that you are joining the National Cycle Route 48, which you will follow all the way to Moreton.

32.70km – Just after leaving Willington, TURN RIGHT following the signs to Moreton-on-Marsh and Todenham and remaining on cycling route 48.

33.80km – At the crossroads with the ‘Stop’ sign, CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON. Be careful when crossing over the road as on your right is a blind bend and cars may come around quickly.

34.50km – At the T-junction, TURN LEFT and then immediately TURN RIGHT, following signs to Todenham and cycle route 48.

36.50km – BEAR LEFT as the road makes a sweeping turn, so that you are heading towards the church steeple in Todenham Village. Then CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON for 5.5 kilometres, passing the church and the village hall on your right, and then ignoring all side paths, still following the stickers for cycle route 48.

42.00km – As you reach the T-junction with a main road, TURN LEFT to head on a bridge over the railway tracks, and then continue into Moreton-on-Marsh.

42.60km – Finish in Moreton-on-Marsh beside the Market Hall. Why not go into Why not grab a drink from 'The Bell Inn', which was visited by J.R. Tolkien and has been credited as the inspiration for 'The Prancing Pony' in 'The Lord of the Rings'?

Note


all notes on protected areas

Coordinates

OS Grid
SP 20473 32438
DD
51.990024, -1.703251
DMS
51°59'24.1"N 1°42'11.7"W
UTM
30U 589040 5760722
w3w 
///going.signature.bronzes
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike

Equipment

All normal cycle equipment and outdoor gear is required, including a helmet, gloves and a wind-break layer. Even if it doesn’t appear necessary ensure you bring enough warm and waterproof clothes as weather conditions can change quickly.

Padded shorts are recommended, as saddle pain takes the fun away very quickly!

This route is mostly on rural roads so be sure to bring a bottle of water and a snack in case you find yourself a long way from the shops.


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Difficulty
moderate
Distance
42.6 km
Duration
3:45 h
Ascent
299 m
Descent
297 m

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