By Kristian Price
12 riders met at the Upper Castle Combe public car park on Sunday 17th June 2012 to ride a similar route to that which we last rode in September 2011. Except this time it was in the opposite direction.
This route was a slightly modified version of one I’d found in the ‘Off-Road Cycling in Wiltshire’ guide, a series of 10 rides across the county and which could be bought in the local Tourist Office for a few pounds. It might now also be available on the internet.
Our ride coincided with an event on at the circuit, The Anglo-Japanese Sportscar Weekend, and we could hear the action on the track as we passed below Quarry Corner, The Esses, Hammerdown and Tower Corner. Unlike some of the crashes I’ve seen on the circuit, our ride here passed without incident and Nik Wadge did not fall off again.
From Long Dean we rode across the valley to the Ford/Castle Combe road and then down to the White Hart pub at Ford. Unfortunately it was not open at 11am, but this is a good pub to stop at if cycling in the area. From here it was a steep road climb up the old stage coach road to North Wraxall, through the village and towards Truckle Hill Barn for the first of our single track descents through the woodland. The rain in the previous week had made this bridleway slightly muddy in places but it’s a still a fast descent.
A few people who’d ridden this area before knew what was coming up, in the form of the famous ‘Chris Dewhurst’ river crossing near Nettleton. This was reached down a steep bridleway strewn with the rocks from the old dry stone walls and so caution was necessary in places. The water was much deeper than the last time we rode here, and whilst most people opted to take the stone bridge, both Tom Scott and Tom Stickland rode through the river. It must be a Tom thing!!
We were more than half way around at this stage, with Burton, Littleton Drew and The Gibb to ride through. From Littleton Drew the bridleway was slightly overgrown and muddy, but this changed to a surfaced track as we approached the Fosse Way. On leaving the Fosse Way rather than stop at the Salutation Inn in The Gibb for a drink, we opted to finish the ride at the car park and walked into Castle Combe for a pint and roast dinner at The White Hart. This was a great idea!!
In recent years Castle Combe village has been the setting for scenes in films such as Stardust, Wolfman and most recently War Horse directed by Steven Spielberg. As such it’s a very popular tourist destination but a worthwhile visit.
Thank you to everyone for turning up and getting on with it!! I’ll have another novice friendly ride ready for late-August.