A mostly flat, circular ride from Oxford Station, following minor roads through market towns in the Thames Valley before turning South to cross the river at Tadpole Bridge and then heading back towards Oxford along the Golden Ridge; taking in several historic towns and villages.
In addition to the summaries here, there are notes on each waypoint. These can be difficult to find and access on Outdooractive. You can find better edited and updatded versions on my blog site, www.pootler.co.uk . Look under the 'Pootler' heading.
This route hasn't got as many quirky attractions as some of my others but offers a pleasant wander across the river valleys that lie below the Cotswolds in North West Oxfordshire. River courses move around over time so these are wide valleys covered in heavy clay soils and the gravel and other materiel dumped by the rivers, some of which will date back to the ice ages when the area would have been Tundra threaded by glacial outwash streams. The Thames itself was much larger then and as little as 500,000 years ago was still part of a rivers system which included what is now the Severn.
If you want a better edited version of these notes or to comment or add to them, please visit my blog (link) www.pootler.co.uk
The proximity of the Cotswolds can be seen in the honey coloured limestone that formed in the Jurassic period under a shallow and warm sea and which is used for a lot of the buildings. The last part of the route follows some higher ground which is also formed from limestone but from later in that period and which separates the Thames valley from the Vale of White Horse further to the south. This is known as the Golden Ridge, again in tribute to the colour of the building stone.
The route starts with a hill that takes you out of Oxford into the Thames Valley where it is joined from the North by the River Windrush. After crossing an unusual privately owned toll bridge, it goes through Eynsham before continuing across the flat floor of the river valley to Witney. Eynsham and Witney are both old market towns at key fords across the Rivers Thames and Windrush respectively.
On leaving Witney it then turns south across the heavy clay farmland to the north of the Thames, crossing the river at the picturesque Tadpole Bridge before climbing up to the Golden Ridge which it follows on a minor road through pretty villages that lead back to Oxford.
This has been a prosperous area for a long time, as evidenced by the number of impressive manor houses and chocolate-box cottages in immaculately kept villages. Several of these have been home to people with a story to tell. Characters that you cross include the Devil, King George 111, the Patron Saint of Bicester, a Grand Prix driver, King Cnut, Brian May from 'Queen', Tom Yorke from 'Radiohead' and sadly, the Colditz escapee who became a Tory Minister before being assassinated by the IRA and the expert of biological weapons who was found dead in mysterious circumstances in the run up to the Iraqi invasion.
But the highlight is probably the chance to ride through open and flat countryside on quiet roads!