x-England Parts 1 & 2

National Cycle Route 4 (p0057)

Well, that was fun. I must do more of that.

Sunday – Bedwyn (just east of the east/west England watershead) to Reading, via Savernake Forest, Hungerford and Newbury. On the whole, a very pleasant ride, generally along the canalside, on good, recently surfaced cyclepaths. There was the occasional odd route choice – the road leading east out of Hungerford was far too busy and consequently rather unpleasant, and why the route – I was following National Cycle Route 4 all the way – took us away from the canal and through pongy Thatcham I do not know… But the Thatcham to Reading section, purely along the canal, is just lovely. And Marsh Benham is possibly the most beautiful place in all England.

Monday – Reading to Staines, via Bowley Hill, Maidenhead, Eton Dorney and Windsor. I was joined for the Reading to Windsor section by Nick, Hilary, Dom, Gillian and Simon. After an initially dull section through the suburbs of Reading, the route lurched up an attractive hill – reminding me a lot of Shotover, before plunging down through fields to Maidenhead. On leaving the town, it wound around the Thames river, passing the long rowing lake of Eton Dorney, before arriving in Eton itself, and of course Windsor, dominated as ever by its huge castle. After a pint of Pimms, the others departed in the direction of Slough (poor souls) while I headed south onto the lovliest section of all, through the majestic Windsor Great Park. In the warm August evening sunshine, the park was simply beautiful, and a pleasure to cycle on the wide, traffic free roads – although National Cycle Route 4 is not waymarked through the park. I finished my journey heading down a steep hill – Cooper’s Hill, past the Royal Air Force war memorial, to Staines. A signpost announced that Richmond was at least 15 miles away, so I decided to call it a day and get the train back to Waterloo.

Photos here. (All the pics were taken with my W800i cameraphone, which tends to oversharpen, oversaturate and overcontrast – but hey, it’s a phone.)

Still to do: Staines to Southsea, and Bristol to Bedwyn.

Swing Bridge (p0071)

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