All posts by Steffan James

Around the Downs

Tom Scott will be leading this mostly off-road route around the Marlborough Downs.

This is a Novice-Friendly ride that will be at a relaxed pace, and would be a good introduction for new or inexperienced riders to some of the routes available in the local area.

If you fancy a longer ride meet Tom by the diving platform at Coate Water at 9am.

Bring food and drink, spares and tools.

Foxhill to Badbury Clump

Tom Scott will be leading this mostly off-road route across the Vale of the White Horse to Badbury Clump – ‘where the downhill trails be’ – and returning via the Ridgeway.

Meet at Foxhill ready for a 9.00am start.

We will be stopping at the Clump for an hour or so, including grub and hooning, so be prepared to be out for about 5-6 hours in total.

The first half of the ride is flattish and the second half is – how can I describe it? – a bit lumpy…

Bring a picnic and drink, spares and tools.

(Photo credit: National Trust)

Bristol Bikefest

Bristol Bikefest is an event that MB Swindon has attended and enjoyed several times in the past. The event didn’t happen last year, but now it’s back… and we’re going again!

What is Bikefest? It’s a six hour cross country (sort of) race! If you’re super competitive you can charge around the course for the whole time… but we’re hoping to have lots of MB Swindoners riding in pairs or teams to spread the load!

You can race seriously or treat it as a social event – it really is open to all abilities. And don’t worry if you don’t have anyone to form a team with. We’ll help put you together with other like-minded riders.

We’ve pre-booked some tickets, so get in touch with us first and we’ll let you know whether we still have any available.

Find full details at

Two Tunnels – The Return

For those who missed this on previous occasions (or want to have another go…), Graham Burgess will be leading the Two Tunnels ride again.
The full 48 mile route will start from Wharf Road Carpark in Devizes, meeting at 9:15 for a 9:30 SHARP departure. The route follows the canal towpath down past Caen Locks and continues through Semington and Staverton to Bradford on Avon where we will meet anyone opting for the shorter 23 mile route at the Lock Inn Cafe at around 10:45 for an 11:00 (ish) departure so time for a quick coffee and cake!
The route then continues along the canal path past Avoncliff and the amazing aquaduct through to Brassknocker Basin. From Brassknocker, it picks up the Sustrans 13 mile Two Tunnels loop which continues along the canal past Claverton, Bathampton and Bathwick before passing through the suburbs and into Bath centre.
The route then follows the River Avon for a short while before picking up the gentle uphill gradient path through to the Two Tunnels which are an impressive 800 metres and 1672 metres long. From the Tunnels the route goes over the Tucking Mill Viaduct to Midford where we will stop for a pub lunch at the Hope and Anchor (or depending on group consensus we can stop at Brassknocker cafe a couple of miles on – or both…).
The route then takes to single country lanes for a mile or two with a couple of short sharp climbs through to Monkton Combe where it drops back down to Brassknocker Basin to rejoin the canal path for the return route back to Bradford on Avon and onto Devizes with the gradual but long climb up past Caen locks to finish back at the Wharf Road carpark.
This is an entirely non-technical route that will be at a moderate pace and suitable for anyone looking to add a few miles to their repertoire without the fear of big hills or scary bits. There are lots of opportunities along the way for cafe/pub stops and emphasis is on having fun and social day out doing something a bit different. NO ONE will be left behind.
Parking fees (last time we did ride there) were  £5.20 at Devizes and £4.00 at Bradford on Avon – these may have gone up so have plenty of change.
It is anticipated that the canal path will be reasonably busy with other cyclists and walkers so a bell would be useful if you have one.
The tunnels are lit and well surfaced but is advisable (although not essential) to have a small commuter light for this section.
Bring food/drinks, spares, a fully working bike and pocket money!
Start points:
Full route – Wharf Road Carpark, Devizes SN10 1EA
Shorter route – Lock Inn Cafe, Bradford on Avon BA15 1LE (nearest carpark Baileys Barn BA15 1BX)
(Image credit:

Hilda-May’s Exmoor Adventure

Hilda-May Latham leads this ladies-only ride through the wilds of Exmoor. This is not a novice- friendly ride due to the amount of climbing (up to 1,000 metres). That said, the intention is to take it easy up the climbs.

The ride starts in Horner Woods with a steep tarmac climb. We will stop to take a breather and admire the views before a short ascent to ascent across the moor to Dunkery beacon, the highest point in Exmoor.

Dunkery beacon is very exposed – not the best place to be in wet, windy conditions – but on a clear day you can see across the Bristol Channel to Wales.

We then descend on a mixture of moorland and rocky tracks to the village of Exford where we will stop for lunch in one of the pubs. Lunch is followed by some more climbs back up to Dunkery beacon. From there we follow an awesome 4.5km rocky descent with loose rocks. The final part is downhill through Horner Woods, following the river back to the car park.

Once at the car park we can freshen up and grab celebratory cake from the local tea gardens.

Arrive in time for a 10.00am start. Bring £3 in change for the car park, lots of snacks, pocket money for lunch/cake and a change of clothes.

Midweek Ride 16th May

Wailun Chung leads this week’s Wednesday night ride. Meet at the Patriots Arms, Chiseldon, ready for a 7.00pm start.

You’ll need lights, a drink and the usual spare tube or repair kit. Expect a ride of about 15 miles using stretches of the Ridgeway and the Marlborough Downs.

All are welcome and no one gets left behind. There may be a chance of a drink in the pub afterwards.

Ride Report: The Lakes at Leisure

Words by Debbie Davies    Photos by Debbie Davies and Rafe Aldridge

I have led ladies-only rides for the last four years but this one was going to be my first ‘open’ club ride and, as befits that event, it was preceded by a sleepless night. The MB Swindon Facebook page showed there were three people going (and one of those was me!) so I thought it would be a nice gentle introduction, and ideal for anyone new.

The weather suggested sun most the day and as I set off to the meeting place it was already warming up. I’m happy to say that the ladies’ ride weather appears to be transferable.

Mountain bikers in a car park.

There were cycle helmets visible from the trail as I pedalled towards the car park so someone had turned up; in fact, ten turned up which was lovely but a little unexpected. Everyone signed in and we took a quick group photo before we set off down the track towards the road that links both parks. It’s a shame there is no off road section to cut out the tarmac but we split into two groups to keep everything rolling and were fairly quickly at the first part of the cycle way.

The Thames path had been impassable for a part of the winter with the usual flooding – with some very deep mud sections – so we attacked the area from the opposite side. With a brief warning about the churned up track, we instantly lost one to it.  All well and no damage done, we rode into the nature reserve and whizzed along the gravel path and then out through the kissing gate at the far end with some nifty gate handling skills.

We headed along to the café stop where we took over two picnic benches in the sun. Ladies’ rides usually involve cake; this mixed ride seemed to be a bacon-fest. Rafe demonstrated his ‘flying trivet’. Apparently it wasn’t a standard drone, but it did a good job of photographing us and we spent more time relaxing in the sun as we watched it fly.

Turning out of the café, a short paved section led us back to the old railway line and a straight return back to the Cricklade Sports centre. Those speedy ones amongst us took the front and pushed for a Strava section; the rest of us just chatted in the sun as we pedalled. A slightly longer detour, agreed by everyone to take us off the busier road and via a lovely country lane, took us finally back to the car park.

Many thanks to the four ladies and six gents that joined me on the ride and especially to Sarah for back marking for me.

Ben’s Greenham Common Ride

Ben Mitchell will be leading a ride at Greenham Common near Newbury. Previously used as an RAF and USAF airbase in both the Second World War and during the Cold War, and more recently the Star Wars …films!

No longer home to nuclear bombers, there’s a fair bit of fun and interesting single track to take in, and hopefully some interesting history for those that like that sort of thing!

This will follow similar single-track to the first MB Swindon ride that Ben ever went on, way back in June of 2013 (lead by Rafe I believe?).

Most definitely suitable for novices, the route is possibly shorter than most at no more than 25km, with minimal, short climbs. For those that want a bit more, there will be options to repeat bits of the single-track, or to do another loop of Greenham.

The ride will start at the Thatcham Nature Discovery Centre, where there is a free car park and a cafe for those that want to sneak in a pre-ride coffee, or have a bit of cake afterwards.

The Nature Discovery Centre
Muddy Lane
Lower Way
RG19 3FU

The ‘Lakes at Leisure’ Ride

Debbie Davies will be leading this gentle, easy ride to the lakes at Cotswold Water Park. We will make our way to Cricklade along some roads and well laid trails to the Thames Path, here we can wind our way around the lakes to the café and our stop. From there we pick up the old railway path back to Cricklade and then retrace our route to Mouldon Lake.

The ride is flat but there may be some mud, depending on the weather.

The route is totally suitable for novice riders or those returning from injury. The pace will be casual and no one will be left behind. 

Please be aware that the car park has an overhead entrance barrier of 2m high if you carry your bike on a roof rack. Meet in the car park to be ready for a 10.30am start.