All posts by Steffan James

Goldenballs 2019

Hilda-May Latham will be leading the Goldenballs ride, using the route previously used by Richard Ford. This is an easy-paced novice friendly route along the escarpment of the Vale of Pewsey on the Marlborough Downs.

From Knap Hill we will head to Martinsell via a fun bit of single track through Gopher Woods. The route offers some of the best views in the area. We then head to West Woods  for a bit more woodland riding before heading back and enjoying the fun descent down Goldenball Hill.

The car park is a popular spot for outdoor lovers, hence the early (9.00am) start. Please share cars where possible.

Directions from Swindon

  • Take the A4361 to Avebury.
  • At the right bend in the road (after the Red Lion Pub) turn left to take the B4003
  • The B4003 comes to a T junction with the A4.  Turn left.
  • Take the next right (after about ¼ mile).  Sign posted East Kennet.
  • Drive through East Kennet and follow the road to a T junction.
  • Turn right at the T junction.
  • Follow the road for two miles.  The car park is on the left just after three houses on the right.  Be careful, it is rather difficult to see until you are right on top of it and quite easy to drive past.  If you start going down the hill into the Vale of Pewsey you have gone too far.

Sunrise at Avebury

It is the Summer Solstice and Wailun Chung is planning a ride out to Avebury to see the sun rise.

We will be leaving the Wichelstowe Co-op store car park at 2.00am (YES… 2.00am!) on Friday morning. The route is about 15 miles there. We will be there for an hour or so and will ride back the same route.

Please bring lights (if you haven’t got any Chung have a set you can use), a drink, a spare tube or repair kit , extra clothing and some cash.

Haresfield Challenge

Gary Palmer will lead this challenging ride in the Stroud area on June 15th.

The ride will start at the Shortwood Car Park, near Haresfield Beacon. The route will be about 25 miles with approximately 2500ft of climbing. The climbing and descending can be a bit technical at times so this is probably not a ride for novices.

There is no café en route but there is a pub which we could call in to to rehydrate if people want to. Bring plenty to eat and drink during the day.

Start: Shortwood Car Park, near Haresfield beacon, nearest post code for car park is GL6 6PP. 

Directions from Stroud: 3 miles north-west of Stroud, between A419 and A46. Follow Whiteshill/Edge road from Stroud. 1 mile after Whiteshill village at the top of the hill take a left hand turn, signposted Haresfield. Follow this lane for approximately half a mile and Shortwood carpark is on your left hand side.

There is a £3.50 all day parking charge at this carpark but you can sometimes park outside on the side of the road.

National Trust directions: 

Steve’s Hidden Landmarks

Steve Jeans leads this novice-friendly ride on Sunday 26th May.

Meet at Barbury Castle ready for a 10.00am start

We’ll take the Four Mile Clump route to the Ogbourne Maizey turn off and stop for a few moments at a landmark that we have passed many times on Club rides, but have known little about. There will be a brief history lesson.

We will then take a nice downhill track into Ogbourne Maisey, cross the main road and carry on into Marlborough on the railway line. By then it will be time for a refreshment stop.

Once we leave the cafe in Marlborough we will head just a few minutes away to a landmark very close to the college that a lot of people are unaware of, and there will be a bag of Jelly Babies up for grabs to the first person that spots it!

We will then start to head back to Barbury Castle on the railway line, cross the road at Ogbourne St Andrew, and take a nice quiet track around the back of Ogbourne St George. This track comes out just a hundred yards from the infamous Smeathe’s Ridge, which is a gentle, sloping grass clearing that extends from Ogbourne St George to the top at Barbury Castle.

Expect to be out for around three to four hours (ish) and cover around 18-20 miles. Terrain is typical rutty/gravely, but not technically difficult.

Midweek Ride 22 May

Tom Scott leads this week’s midweek ride. Meet at the Chiseldon Smokehouse ready for a 7.00pm start.

Midweek rides are usually around 15-20 miles / 2 hours long, and use sections of the Ridgeway and the Marlborough Downs. The rides are novice-friendly and no-one gets left behind.

You’ll need lights, a drink and a spare tube or repair kit. We may call in to the pub for a drink afterwards.

Ride Report: All Around Avebury

Words: Steffan James   Photos: Steffan James & Trudy Talbot

When I arrived at Barbury Castle, the car park was absolutely packed with parents dropping off teenagers doing their Duke of Edinburgh Awards. There were also about a dozen mountain bikers already there and, as I caught my breath after coming up the road climb, more kept appearing, until there were twenty of us by the time we set off.

After the descent from the far side of Barbury, we climbed the Ridgeway towards Hackpen. Turning off just before the road crossing, we took a steep, grassy descent and followed the bridleway all the way to the Barbury Inn, through Broad Hinton and along the bridleway towards Avebury.

About halfway along, we turned left and set off towards Windmill Hill, where the steep climb brought joy to everyone!

After a quick snack break and a group photo, it was time to take the long, dusty descent towards Avebury, and a short detour to the Adam and Eve stones (sorry everyone – the nettles weren’t a problem when I did my recce!)

From there we rolled in to Avebury and got into the cafe just before a very large group of motorcyclists out on a fundraising ride. A cup of tea, slice of cake and a toilet stop later, we were all ready to go again.

The next port of call was the impressive Silbury hill, before we crossed the main road and headed uphill towards the West Kennett Long Barrow. We spent a bit of time looking around the burial chamber and then set off once again, climbing and descending into East Kennett, then climbing again to the Sanctuary. As impressive as the name sounds, the monument is disappointing. Nothing remains of the original, the site now being marked out by coloured stones to give an idea of the original shape.

From there it was just a matter of following the long, steady climb of the Ridgeway back towards Barbury. We had one puncture on the return journey, and there were a few tired legs by the end, but everyone completed the ride in good shape.

Thanks to everyone who came along and made it such an enjoyable day out – it was great to have such a mix of regulars and new faces.

All Around Avebury

Steffan James leads this scenic ride around Avebury and its associated monuments on Saturday 18th May. Meet at Barbury Castle car park ready for a 10.00am start.

Although longer than the usual novice-friendly ride, this 22 mile route would make a good step up for those looking to ride a little further than usual, and could be considered a ‘novice-plus’ ride. We’ll ride at a relaxed pace, and as well as a coffee break at Avebury, there will short stops at the other landmarks we visit, too.

We’ll visit five landmarks, besides the main stone circle, then finish the day with the long slog up the Ridgeway back to Barbury Castle.

Bring drinks and snacks and a spare tube or repair kit.

Friday Night Social

On Friday 17th May, we’ll be holding a social evening at Croft Trail between 7.00 and 9.00pm.

Come and ride a lap or two (we’ll show you around if you haven’t been before), sit around the campfire and toast a few marshmallows, and maybe even pop over to the pub afterwards.

Most of the Committee will be there, so if you have any ideas for the future of the Club, you can share them with us. If you have any thoughts about Croft itself, Trail Manager Justin will be happy to hear from you.

We’ll also have our stock of Club shirts available to try on to be sure you get the right size.

Midweek Ride 15 May

Wailun Chung leads this week’s midweek ride. Meet at the Chiseldon Smokehouse ready for a 7.00pm start.

Midweek rides are usually around 15-20 miles / 2 hours long, and use sections of the Ridgeway and the Marlborough Downs. The rides are novice-friendly and no-one gets left behind.

You’ll need lights, a drink and a spare tube or repair kit. We may call in to the pub for a drink afterwards.

Tracks, Trails, Woods & Hills

Kate Davidson leads a 26-mile mixed ride starting at Barbury Castle, heading along the Ridgeway to East Kennett (stopping off for a cuppa at Avebury en route) and over towards Alton Barnes, up Knap Hill and along the Pewsey Downs, and on towards West Woods. Returning via Clatford Down, through Rockley and back up Four Mile Clump to Barbury Castle.

We’ll be riding on byways, hills, downland, through woods and the odd country road. Everybody is welcome, and no-one will be left behind, but although the terrain is not especially technical, it is a long ride, with the longest hill at the end, so please bear this in mind when gauging if this ride is suitable for you. Anyone happy to ride this distance, who can cope with hills and varied terrain, is very welcome.

The usual applies – bring anything you might need for your bike, warm clothing and waterproofs in case of rain, and a bit of food to keep you going.

Meet at Barbury Castle Car Park for a 10am start.

Photo credit Visit Wiltshire.