Words & Photos – Kate Davidson
This stunning summer weather has made riding a pleasure – long hours of daylight make it perfect for exploring, no dirty bikes to hose off, and no muddy clothes to chuck in the washing machine. Places that in winter were an icy, slippery quagmire, or a gale-lashed hill, are magically transformed in the summer months into a picturesque rural idyll.
Arriving at Barbury Castle early on Saturday the car park was almost full, with mums dropping off nervous-looking kids about to set out on a team-building mission. I bumped into Michael Duller, who was out on the road bike, and we chatted about the amazing Land’s End – John O’Groats ride that he, Graham and Gary from MB Swindon had recently completed.
Debbie was the first of my ladies to arrive, followed by a welcome new (old) face in the form of Fiona, an MB Swindon member of old, proudly showing off Celeste, her new Giant full-sus. Trudy, Amanda, Sarah and Caroline soon followed, and off we headed down to Smeathe’s Ridge.
The long, grassy run and far-reaching views from here never fail to lift the spirits, and we bounced our way happily to the gate at the end, Fiona using all her cattle-wrangling skills to move a herd of young cows out of the way. We followed the Ridgeway through Ogbourne and across the main road, picked up the old railway path and headed to Marlborough.
Stopping off at Mercer’s café for food and drink, we sat in the sun and ate vast slices of cake – it’s one of the better café stops, and always reliably good.
After refuelling, we made our way down the High Street, up Hyde Lane and past Marlborough Common, turning off to ride along Manton Down and on down the track to Rockley. There’s a nice little bit of single track, with some small jumps and drop-offs, in Rockley woods, and some of the girls had a bit of a play here – some light relief before everyone’s favourite (!) climb up Four Mile Clump back to Barbury Castle.
There’s nothing for it here but to settle in and ‘love the hill’ and enjoy more of those gorgeous views. The temperature by now was well up in the high 20s, and there were some sweaty brows by the time we arrived back at the car park!
We did a leisurely 16 miles – thanks to the lovely ladies who attended. See you next time!
Kate Davidson leads this novice-friendly ladies’ ride. Starting at Barbury Castle car park, we’ll make our way onto the Ridgeway and head down the lovely grassy run of Smeathe’s Ridge into Ogbourne St George, where we’ll cross the road and head up from the Ridgeway towards the Swindon to Marlborough cycle path.
From there, we’ll ride into Marlborough, stopping for a cuppa and cake, then we’ll head along Marborough High Street up to the common, turning off shortly after onto Manton Down towards Rockley. Heading down through the woods into Rockley, where there is a mild downhill trail through the woods, which can be ridden at your own pace.
We’ll work off that cake on the short(ish!), steep climb back up to Barbury Castle car park! However, the pace throughout will be steady and no-one will be left behind.)
There is a café stop halfway around, but bring anything you feel you may need such as water, snacks, weatherproof coat, spare tubes etc.
Meet at Barbury Castle Car Park ready for a 10am start.
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.
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 .
Words by Tom Scott – Photos by Gary Palmer and Richard Ford
This ride had been advertised as the Barbury Beast, with 50 miles of roots, rocks and ruts and 4,000 feet of climbing.
No-one put their name down, so I decided to devise a route which called in at the starting point at the 30 mile mark, and popped a cafe stop in the middle of the first loop. Hey presto! There were 13 of us at Barbury for the start!
We set off across the castle and down the grassy slope, and ground conditions were okay! Amazing! Then a quick blast down the gravel and a tarmac slog over to Liddington Hill kept us warm and toasty.
Up the hill, down the ruts and suddenly we were at the radio mast. I was intending on going down Snap hill on the road to try and break the Ogbourne land speed record, and come back up Earthline, but a kind soul pointed out that Earthline would be gopping and flying down a road isn’t really mountain biking, so we went down to Whiteshard Bottom instead, did the loop, then down the speedbumps descent to the road and turned left.
We all made it down Rickety Bridge without incident, then took the railway line to Marlborough where we had a cafe stop. We had a puncture (Steve) and broken mech hanger (Sean) on the way out, so we were behind schedule. For the sake of safety, we had to leave Barbury for the second loop by 2pm at the latest, and having been delayed we did not get to Marlborough until gone 12, so I reluctantly announced that the second loop was cancelled.
Everyone was disappointed, so I added a little bit extra on the way back. We did the long road climb from Marlborough and descended into Rockley, up by the church and round the block to the fun bit.
Then it was up towards 4-mile clump. When we got to the Ogbourne St Andrew turn off we went right. Gary Y, Sonny and Fordy were on their last legs and knackered by then so they went straight back. Debbie, Hazel and Sharon kindly agreed to escort them up the hill, they were so worried about the lads.
The remaining Magnificent 7 (Me, Gary P, Gary A, Ian, Sean, Steve and Nathan) then dropped down to the barn, down through Ogbourne and back up the 3 mile slog we know as Smeathe’s Ridge.
In summary, it was a great ride; good weather, fine company and the ground conditions were not too bad, all things considered. Pity we didn’t have time to do the full route, but we will be back in the summer when we have more daylight. This was a good example of a ride where there is a bit of flexibility with the route, some people can miss out a loop, or ride up, or take a short cut. In the end, everyone was happy with what they did, which is the most important thing.
Sarah Bailey will lead this relaxed-pace ride out to Marlborough and back. The majority of the route is off-road – following cycle route 482 (the old railway line) – and flat with a very small amount of climbing.
The is a Novice Friendly ride, and will be ridden at the pace of the slowest rider (quite possibly Sarah herself!). There is the option of stopping at the Three Trees café at the 17 mile mark if people wish to. Please bring any food/drink you may need during the ride.
Meet by the diving platform at Coate Water ready for a 10.00am start.
Michael Duller will lead this off-road ride to Marlborough and back.
Leaving Coate water via route 45, the ride will head up towards the Ridgeway and the Marlborough Downs using bridleways, single track, and country lanes. There will be the opportunity of a stop in Marlborough for refreshments.
The return journey will be on similar terrain. There will be some fun descents and hills to climb. Everyone welcome (and the group will always wait for the slowest rider), but consider whether you are able to ride 30 miles.
Meet by the diving platform at Coate Water ready f0r a 10.00am start.
The ride is suitable for anybody who is capable of riding mainly off road for approx 4 hrs, the route is a non technical with a cafe stop after approx 15 miles. (There are sections of country lanes and B roads and half a mile on an A road)
The first part of the ride leaves Coate water following cycle route 45 to Chiseldon. This includes a short sharp climb.We will then join the old Ridgeway for a few miles which takes us up a steady climb to the bottom of Barbury castle. From Barbury castle we join the Ridgeway for another steady climb to Hackpen hill. The route so far is all perfectly rideable but can have some big puddles in wet conditions.
From Hackpen Hill we follow the road for approx 100 yards towards Marlborough before turning off down a bridleway for a nice descent. Though not technical the bridleway has numerous water bars going across which are all rideable. We then ride a couple of miles of undulating country lanes, followed by a half mile climb up a bridleway. We then head over the Downs towards Manton.
This part of the ride will include bridleways,a muddy wood and a tarmac descent. The ride into Marlborough is along the A4 for about half a mile. We will stop at a cafe for refreshments before we leave Marlborough and ride approx 10 miles along the old railway line back to Chiseldon and then back down to Coate Water.
Things you will need: Inner tubes,pump,basic tool kit,suitable clothing,water.
Things to remember: There are 2 long climbs on rideable surfaces,26 miles can feel longer off road if the weather/conditions are not great.