There is an inescapable charm to the Cotswolds that really lends itself to discovery by bicycle; it is both the villages and the surrounding countryside that characterise the Cotswold and entice people to visit every year.
Today you will pass through a dozen quaint little villages – blink and you’ll miss them! - where every house appears hidden behind a blossoming vine, grown and twisted against the honey-coloured brickwork and nearly reaching up to the thatched roofing. Many villages such as Barton-on-the-Heath and Cornwell have a grand Manor House surrounded by acres of country estate where England’s rich nobility would once have lived; indeed, many of them are still privately inhabited today.
The countryside is one of rolling hills which you will certainly notice (and possibly begrudge) from your saddle, but from the top of every climb is a stunning vista of rolling hills and patchwork fields that appear like a painting, and with a strip of tarmac – your road - that unfurls itself with a twisting descent into that picture-perfect scene.
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 a maximum of only a couple of hundred metres. 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 a busy road to check.
Today the route crosses cattle grids and railway tracks. When crossing either, it is important you slow down, and ride perpendicular (at right angles) to the cattle grid bars or railway tracks, so there is no risk of your wheel slipping down a hole. If you don’t feel confident, don’t worry about getting off and walking over or around.
Tips and hints
Points of Interest
Today you will pass right by a complex of stone monuments; Interestingly it is not just one set of stones, but three distinct sets, which span nearly 2,000 years of history, demonstrating that this was a sacred site throughout both the Neolithic and the Bronze ages. The oldest is a staggering 5,500+ years old!
More information available here: https://www.rollrightstones.co.uk/
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. Chipping Norton and Moreton-on-Marsh are sizeable villages and have a wide variety of pubs, cafes and shops.
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.
Basic Equipment for Bike Riding
- Cycling helmet
- Cycling gloves
- Sturdy, comfortable and preferably waterproof footwear
- Layered, moisture wicking clothing
- Rucksack (with rain cover)
- Protection against sun, rain and wind (hat, sunscreen, water- and windproof jacket)
- Ample supply of drinking water and snacks
- Cell phone
- Navigation equipment / map and compass
Technical Equipment for Bike Riding
- Air pump or CO2 pump including cartridges
- Puncture repair kit
- Replacement inner tube
- Tire levers
- Chain tool
- Hex keys
- Phone / device holder as required
- Bike lock as required
- Where applicable, the bike must meet requirements for road use by having a bell, front and rear lamps and spoke reflectors
- The 'basic' and 'technical' equipment lists are generated based on the selected activity. They are not exhaustive and only serve as suggestions for what you should consider packing.
- For your safety, you should carefully read all instructions on how to properly use and maintain your equipment.
- Please ensure that the equipment you bring complies with local laws and does not include restricted items.