Tag Archives: ridgeway

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.

Graham’s Ridgeway Cafe Ride

Graham Burgess will be leading this ride along country lanes and byways out to a cafe near Wantage and back via the Ridgeway (similar the ride we had to cancel last month).

At 25 miles, it’s a longer than usual Club ride, though with a cafe stop at the halfway point it’s a good ride for those wishing to extend their rides.

Meet at Foxhill (just up the road from the Burj Restaurant) ready for a 10.00am start. If you want to super-size the ride, meet Graham by the diving platform at Coate Water ready for a 9.15am start.

(Photo credit: English Heritage)


Tracks and Trails and Woods and Hills

Kate Davidson leads this 25 mile mixed ride. Starting at Barbury Castle, the ride will head along the Ridgeway to East Kennett and over to Alton Barnes, up Goldenball Hill and along the Pewsey Downs, and on towards West Woods. The return will be via Clatford Down, through Rockley and back up Four Mile Clump to Barbury.

We’ll be riding on byways, hills, downland, woods and the odd country road. Though not listed as novice-friendly, anyone happy to ride this distance, who can cope with hills and varied terrain, is welcome.

There is no planned café stop, but there is an option of riding down for a cuppa in Avebury before heading East Kennett-wards. In any case, 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.

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)

Hilda’s Ridgeway Marathon

Hilda May Latham leads this challenging cross-country epic, which she ran as a ladies-only ride last year. This time, the boys can play, too.

We start the ride with a grassy descent down Smeathe’s Ridge and some beautiful views of the Ridgeway, followed by a steep climb out of Ogbourne St George to prep the legs and lungs for an epic day in the saddle.

We will then head over to Bishopstone where we will stop for some lunch before heading over to Ashdown House and finally making our way back to Barbury.

As this is a longer ride we will be making an early start. Meet at Barbury Castle ready for a 9.00am start. Expect to be out for approximately 6hrs. Bring lots of snacks, a packed lunch, water and some pocket money for ice-cream.

Please note that this ride is not novice-friendly due to the distance and amount of climbing involved.

The Ridgeway Challenge

On Saturday June 16th, we are running a different type of event for MB Swindon.

Instead of the Club providing a leader to guide you along your ride, this time we’ll be saying ‘3,2,1…Go!’ and setting you off on your way.

The Ridgeway Challenge will start at Foxhill, and the aim is for you to ride as far as you can along the Ridgeway whilst still making it back to Foxhill by the finish time.

There will be two options:

The six hour ride starts at 11.00am

The three hour ride starts at 2.00pm

…and riders on both rides must be back at Foxhill by 5.00pm.

How you ride is up to you. Treat it as a time trial and power through to cover as many miles as you can, or just make it a social ride with a group of friends. (As there is no ride leader, we suggest riding with a partner.)

Ladies ‘Cake Burner ‘ride – 21st January 2018

Words and photos by Debbie Davies

The Ladies rides have the reputation of always being on the best weather days. This ride bucked the trend well and truly.

I sat in Coate Water car park, far too early for the agreed meeting time, watching the rain hammer down on my windscreen, driven by the increasing winds. It was going to be foul. I was fully prepared for the wet, having packed suitable jacket and waterproof shorts, waterproof gloves and a helmet liner to keep out the draughts. I did put out a warning on the ride details to makes sure to wear enough as the Ridgeway can be a bit blowy in the winter so looking at the spare clothes in my car I appeared to have heeded the advice.

Sue was as early as me, parked at the other side of the car park. Soon after Trudy arrived and finally Sharon who had run and ridden the day before and for some daft reason thought she needed more exercise.

We rode out from Coate via the motorway bridge and had our first indication of how cold it actually was. The rain was going to be variable throughout the day and at this point it gave us a little respite, enough to reach the byway and the mud. The ride was designed to avoid the worst of the heavy going but this was seriously sloppy, it was going to be a messy one.

We carried on up towards Hackpen Hill battling now icy rain, stinging our faces as it was pushed by a crosswind. We briefly stopped to adjust our Buffs over our noses, highwayman style. It looked so comical in the awful conditions that I had to take a photo of us all. There were comments about whether this was normal behaviour.

The route after Hackpen has a lovely descent into a dip before a climb out towards Fyfield Down. By now the visibility had gone and the usual views were just a memory …it was seriously wet and very cold. It was then we realised we were the only people up there, mountain bikers seem to be a different breed.

We resorted to walking part of the byway as it had turned so slippery, ably demonstrated by Sue who had her front wheel wash out and unceremoniously depositing her in even more water and mud as a result. Fyfield Down is a glorious area, but not this day, we were now all cold with numb fingers …my waterproof gloves leak, and frozen toes. There were the smallest signs of a mutiny in the ranks at this point, with talks of short cuts but the draw of cake was stronger and we pressed on to Marlborough.

The Café had become a sanctuary from the bitter cold, it took us all a few minutes to be able to operate fingers to remove helmets and open purses, to the amusement of a few diners. Finally cake and tea was ordered and we sat warming our hands around hot mugs and slowly defrosted. The café staff were wonderful , they wouldn’t let us mop up as we left and even provided us with latex work gloves so we could put back on our now dripping cycle gloves  more easily . We promised we would go back in the summer, clean and dry and buy more cake.

We made our way home, feeling much happier at the prospect now we had thawed out. The old railway path we were going back along was sheltered from the wind and the rain and I think we actually enjoyed the final leg, chatting most the way. The last 10 miles passed quite quickly now there was no headwind and very soon we were back at Coate car park. Sometimes we chat before we move away, this day we had already said our goodbyes before we even stopped the bike wheels moving and hastily packed up saturated kit and muddy bikes. The lure of a hot bath was very strong.

The ladies of MB Swindon always support their rides and make them special …this one was in a different category, many thanks to Trudy , Sue and Sharon for turning up at all  to ride in that weather and then sticking with it to the end.



Ride Report – Wantage Cafe Ride 22nd October

The morning started well, with a brief look at the weather forecast showing very little chance of rain with a stiff South-Westerly breeze, which suited us fine as we were heading North-East.

As I rode to the start on my brand new tyres I was feeling good, then spotted Mr Yeates on the other side of Dorcan Way. A quick bunny hop off the kerb and we were a pair.  We became a trio at Covvy shops where Howard “No relation to Elizabeth II” Windsor was just completing his pre-ride faff.
As Graham hadn’t bothered riding to Covvy and we had some spare time, we rode down to his place and then Gary Lee turned up and that made five. On arrival at Fox Hill there was a positive cornucopia of talent, all ready to make the most of the tail wind. So the twelve set off up the Ridgeway.
The going was reasonable apart from a stretch where a tractor / trailer and a digger had made a bit of a mess of the trail, a nice ride through the woods by Waylands Smithy, some sketchy Ridgeway rut riding (reminded us we were alive) some climbs and a bit of Tarmac and we arrived at the caff.
I think that we were all dreading the ride back into the wind, but to be fair it wasn’t too bad apart from a couple of open stretches, and it’s amazing how quickly the miles rolled by and there we were back at Fox Hill, the Dirty Dozen!
Graham being overtaken by a dog walker.


Wantage Cafe Ride

Tom Scott will be running his ever-popular Wantage cafe ride on 22nd October.

The ride follows the Ridgeway from Swindon, past the White Horse at Uffington, and on to the outskirts of Wantage, where the group will stop for a cup of tea and a slice of cake to fuel up for the return leg.

There are two distance options for this ride:

40 Mile Option
Meet at Covingham shops at 9.00am.

25 Mile Option
Meet at Foxhill at 10.00am.

There are a couple of climbs en-route, but no technically difficult sections. The 25 mile option would make a good next-step ride for those looking to go beyond the average novice friendly ride.

As always, bring a drink and snack, and any spares you might need.

Ridgeway Marathon Ride Report

Distance: 60km with nearly 1,000m of climbing

Words by Hilda-May Latham Photos courtesy of Debbie Davies

I was joined by 9 ladies, all prepared for an adventure on their bikes. At 10am we’d all had our first round of flapjacks and were raring to go.

We started off with a grassy descent down Smeathe’s Ridge that offered beautiful views of the Ridgeway. This was shortly followed by a steep climb out of Ogbourne St George that tested our legs and lungs. Spirits were high as we re-grouped at the top of the climb admiring the views across Swindon.

With grins from ear to ear, it was clear to see that we all enjoyed the cheeky descent into Hinton Parva. The perfect way to prepare for a relaxing lunch in the sun.

With most of the hard work done and 50% of the distance completed it was time to set off back to Barbury, but first we had the opportunity to admire the picturesque grounds of Ashdown House.

The little history lesson was shortly followed by our second biggest climb of the day. All the ladies did a sterling job of persevering and keeping their balance on the narrow line.

With the end in sight and a soaring sense of achievement it was time to head back for an ice-cream or more flapjack before heading homewards.

Riders feedback:

 ‘Absolutely fantastic route, lovely people and a gorgeous day to boot!! Red wine 🍷 here I come, I deserve it tonight…’

Fantastic ride!’

‘Epic route, beautiful scenery’