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.
Kate Davidson leads this picturesque rural ladies’ ride, taking in the tracks and trails of Savernake Forest and a few local historical landmarks, with a cake stop en-route.
This will be a novice-friendly ride, at the pace of the slowest rider, but you should be comfortable riding 15-20 miles over mildly undulating terrain with a few short hills along the way.
We’ll meet at Postern Hill campsite, on the outskirts of Marlborough, where there is plenty of parking. Get there ready for a 10.30am start.
From the campsite we’ll ride into the forest, picking up some nice singletrack and fire roads, emerging at the far end of the Grand Avenue and riding onwards to the hamlet of Durley. From here, we drop down onto the Kennet and Avon Canal towpath, stopping for tea and cake at Crofton Beam Engines and, once refreshed, we’ll head back to the forest, enjoying more of the lovely trails it has to offer, and make our way back to the campsite.
Athough being April it should be springlike, it may be wet and/or muddy in the forest. Bring anything you feel you may need such as water, weatherproof coat and spare tubes, etc.
After last month’s somewhat wintery weather for our Ladies ride, I was paying lots of attention to the TV forecasts in the run up to this month’s event. It wasn’t looking too horrible. It said cold but dry with sunny spells. Despite that, I wasn’t expecting a very good turn out as there were so many colds and bugs hitting our riders.
I cycled to our starting point at the Croft Trail car park in plenty of time and waited to see who arrived. It was lovely to see some of our past riders joining us again – the urban ride has been held every February for the last 3 years and it just seems to work for people when the trails are thick with mud and the days chilly.
By 10am we numbered 8 and were nearly ready to set off when Sharon discovered that her helmet wasn’t where it was supposed to be. A protective bobble hat was donned and a phone call to home to see if the helmet could be delivered to the café stop soon had everything sorted and we were on our way.
We made our way to Lydiard Park and the café via the cycleways and quiet roads around Swindon. We are very lucky to have so many linking routes and each time the urban ride has been done it’s been a challenge to find trails that not everyone knows. I’m pleased to say that, apparently, I managed it again.
We got to the café to be met by Nigel with the helmet and the amazing Mr Turnip in tow. Mr T is a Bull Terrier with the best ‘feed me I’m starving’ eyes. He helped me with my donut before we set off again. The weather was sufficiently nice that we all had refreshments outside.
We left the café (and Nigel and Mr T) and rejoined the route using the mud free cycle paths until we reached the off road cycle path towards Peatmoor Lake. Trudy and I had ridden this route the week before and it was a bit damp; now it was under water! Riding through it was the only way, so I went through first expecting the others to wait and see how deep it was before getting wet feet. I seems they were all more intrepid than that and followed me through.
We made our way around West Swindon and back onto the Old Town railway track. The mud and puddles came thick and fast at this point, and my bike seemed to be a magnet for all of it. As we rode down into Old Town and towards Coate Water, the weather was changing and the wind had picked up. The sun had left us and it looked as though it might even snow. Time to push and get home.
At the exit to the park, we became seven as Mandy left us to take a short cut home. We turned into a headwind and made our way back to Croft Trail via the golf course and straight into more mud. Julie had come on semi-slick tyres and here it proved just a bit too much for them, so walking was the best way at this point. She showed great skills getting back along the bridleway to Croft Trail though, as we picked our way down the well-trampled paths.
We reached the car park, where bikes were loaded hastily into cars and most of the ladies went home to get warm. Three of us stayed chatting in the car park until a hailstorm ended our social and sent us scuttling for our cars and home.
Many thanks to Trudy, Julie, Kerry, Caroline , Mandy, Sharon and Sarah for joining me, and double thanks to Sharon and Sarah for being my back markers for the ride .
Debbie Davies will be leading her last winter urban ride for the ladies in February. This ride takes in connecting trails and quiet roads or safe roadside cycle paths to take you through the outskirts of Swindon.
We will pass though four of the local parks at a casual pace to suit the slowest rider. If you have considered riding with the MB Swindon club, this would be a gentle introduction. If you have never covered this distance before , come and ride with us, we would love to help you move up in your riding.
There will be a café / cake stop a little under half way around, but feel free to bring your own water and snacks to use on the way round.
Dress suitably with warm clothes as the pace will be steady with possible stops for people. Don’t forget that feet get cold on pedals and that you will be out for several hours .
Ladies, our first ride of 2018 is a classic XC route. It will be novice friendly due to its lack of technical features. The distance is slightly longer than our usual Novice rides, but no-one will be left behind. We may experience any weather in January so please dress suitably for wind / ice / snow / rain /mud …am I selling this to you ?!
We will be heading up to the Ridgeway on hardpack trails and making our way to Totterdown Woods, and then onto the access road through the Manton Estate where the views are wonderful. From here we head into Marlborough and a lovely quiet road descent.
We plan to stop at a café at around the halfway point. From here we will make our way to the old railway line and back to Chiseldon (where there is the opportunity to stop again around 3 miles from the finish to get hot drinks if necessary!) and then Coate Water.
Join us and blow away those Christmas cobwebs .
Please bring water and extra food because of the distance and time of year: keep fuelled = keep warm
Meet by the diving board at Coate Water at 9.45, ready for a 10.00am start.
Please note there is a £2 car park charge at Coate Water for all day parking .
Debbie Davies will lead this ride in the areas around Faringdon, using natural trails, bridleways and a few country lanes. Although we cross the A420 (we don’t ride along it at all) on four occasions the ride is very rural and mostly very peaceful.
We start from the Iron age hill fort that was part of Badbury Clump’s history, and we pass the Great Coxwell Tithe Barn which is one of the largest in Europe. From there we pass through local villages and onto some well laid bridleways taking in views of the Faringdon Folly. We make our way through to Buckland Warren, a lovely pine woodland which lives up to its name with a warren of trails crossing through. The ride takes the form of a figure of eight to make the most of the local trails .
When we return to the Badbury Clump car park, we can head to the far side and see the beautiful views whilst eating a picnic, if you wish to stay a little longer.
Meet at 9.30 for a 10am ride off. The car park can get very busy so please consider car sharing if possible. The car park is National Trust owned, so charges may apply.
There is no cafe on the ride. We are passing a pub if people want to pop in but otherwise please bring a picnic/ food to have at the end of the ride and snacks/ water on route
Stunning views should have been the order of the day for Jo’s ride; the wet morning and low cloud suggested otherwise.
I pulled into the car park at the golf club on Stinchcombe Hill having spotted some familiar cars and bikes being unloaded. Hazel and Sarah had already arrived and bikes were being prepped. Several more of the riders followed and as we debated whether we were in the right car park out of a choice of two, our ride leader Jo arrived and told us we weren’t! We repacked and followed her up the hill to the correct meeting point and started again.
It was the Bank Holiday weekend and Jo had been held up on the motorway due to the traffic. From our high vantage point, we could look down on a continuous snake of vehicles that a little earlier she had been caught up in. We waited for one more rider, Jen, to join us – she had messaged through earlier so we chatted and tried to keep warm as we got ourselves together. The previous day had been lovely and most of us had come expecting more of the same. We were cold; it was very breezy but it was now dry. From the top of Stinchcombe Hill we had to imagine what the views would be like as they still weren’t ready to reveal themselves.
An hour later we were ready to ride. We set off around the perimeter of the Golf Course on a grassy, mown track that soon turned into the most gorgeous length of single track, just as Jo had promised. We snaked our way around blind corners that turned into open stretches and then into woodland. One by one we followed each other with each turn bringing new features.
We stopped to regroup after a few short little hills and let everyone appreciate the now-emerging scenery… it really was stunning. Jo gave us a little briefing at this point: we were going to meet a slightly more technical point of the trail, a slightly rocky, steep but short descent. A few of us went to have a look at it before we rode it and some of our group decided to walk down instead. Jo stayed at the top to photograph us as we went, while her fellow Malvern riding buddy (also called Jo) took the front of the snake to lead us on to the next trail.
With a small stretch of road to navigate, we came to our café stop. A fascinating ridge of Silver Birch saplings on bare rock gave this area a unique feel; take the trees away and it could be a moonscape. The ‘café’ was a coffee machine, a mini freezer full of ice creams and an honesty box. Drinks and ice creams paid for, the Ladies settled down for the usual break and chat synonymous with Ladies rides. This soon became a bike-trying session, though, as one of our group was in the process of choosing a new bike and had a few test rides as we finished our ice creams.
We set off again through the moonscape and another small section of road, returning all-to-soon to Stinchcombe Hill and the long tarmac road that dissected the now very active Golf Course. As we returned to our cars, the low cloud still veiled the best of the views but didn’t spoil the enjoyment of a very unique area or a very social ride.
Many thanks to Jo for showing us this lovely area that many of us will be exploring again, I’m sure. Thanks too, to Jen, Sarah, Jo, Andrea, Nikki, Holly, Hazel and Amanda for joining us.
Jo Page will be leading a ride for the MB Swindon ladies on top of the beautiful Stinchcombe Hill. This will be a very easy paced single track ride with minimal climbing, as the car park meeting point is at the top of the hill!
The distance will be around 8 miles with lots of stops for chatting and photos.
We will loop around the hill on bridleways and permissive paths set in the Cotswold limestone, before heading through the woodland to the Breakheart Project. There are normally toilet facilities here along with tea and coffee available through an honesty box scheme. There is a purpose built MTB trail through the quarry but as this is a truly novice friendly ride, we won’t be riding it at this time.
It is from this point that we will loop back through the woods to the car park and our original meeting point.
Rafe has the honour of being allowed to lead the ladies round his “Something Different” loop. Something you perhaps wouldn’t bother with during the summer months when dusty singletrack beckons, but is still fun in it’s own way and goes like this…
Starting at my offices in Steventon, the route takes a mix of road, gravel tracks and and tow-paths into the centre of Oxford. Highlights include:
A road called Peep-O-Day Lane which may or may not be named such due to the large sewage farm along it
The church I got married in
One of the most ridiculous bits of cycle route planning ever (best walked really)
Abingdon Abbey (well a map showing where it would be if King Alfred’s men hadn’t destroyed it as a result of him having a hissy fit, and a couple of follys which may or may not have some relevance or include stones from the ruins of the original building)
Crossing locks (more walking)
A really naff large plastic owl which doesn’t really add much to the £300,000 flat it’s attached to
A church wall where a lovely lady introduced me to the concept of a porkless pie (really, it’s not an innuendo)
The Oxford University boat houses on the cleverly named Boathouse Island (and if you’re lucky you’ll see some big strong people in a skinny boat with a little person perched on the end shouting at them)
A Bansky (which may or may not actually be by Banksy (probably isn’t), and may or may not be pointed out as Debbie told me after the recce and we’ve no idea where it is)
Potential for a bit of making-it-up-as-we-go-along and possibly some walking depending on Oxford road works
The Devil’s Backbone (if that conjures up a mental image of some mysterious, mythical place a la Harry Potter or Lord Of The Rings, then I promise you’ll be utterly disappointed) which involves yet more walking because it’s a footpath
The narrowest byway ever (not yet verified)
We’ve done this route a couple of times and everyone has always enjoyed the fact it’s something different.
It will of course be run as a nice relaxed ride (walk) and you can bring a hardtail, full-susser, ‘cross/adventure bike, fattie or even a hybrid. Note whilst it is marked as “novice friendly” that’s down to the flat and benign terrain, it is still 30 miles!
There’s likely to be lots and lots of dirty puddles but unlikely there will be any real mud. Coffee/cake stop in Oxford.
If you want to know a bit more about the route, take a look at the video from the time we went out in January 2016. Thanks to Michael Duller for this.
all about MTB in and around Swindon and North Wiltshire, including the Croft MTB Trail