x-England Part 3

Gilded (p0160)I did another leg in my cross-England cycle today, going from Staines to Putney in London, along the River Thames towpath for pretty much the whole way, except for a pleasant excursion through Richmond Royal Park. I was, as before, following National Cycle Route 4. It was a relatively short day (I started so late that I only had three hours of light) but quite nice. Photos are at the end of my Bedwyn to London set.

Remaining is another section through central and East London. I may do a convoluted route, finally coming off Route 4 and going from Wandsworth to Croydon to Greenwich, as this allows me to take advantage of two different marked cycle routes and do the Wandle Trail that I had planned to do before. Then from Greenwich, it would be Route 1 east, finishing up eventually in Canterbury. Probably two days needed for this Putney to Canterbury stretch. After all that, the first half remains – Bristol to Bedwyn – uphill all the way, and another two days.

And after that, I’m planning to do the South Downs Way by bike (it’s regional route 78) from Winchester to Eastbourne. This would probably take the form of a continous three-day journey – or maybe two days if I’m feeling fitter (the route is a lot more hilly that Route 4 though.) Any takers to join me on that? It should be superb.


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)


Two Wheels

It is decided.

It’s the cross-England trip – National Cycle Route 4.

Sunday: Crofton to Reading (via Savernake and Newbury)
Monday: Reading to Windsor (and possibly onwards into London)

Crofton is the highest point on the canal and probably the east-west watershed of England, so is very much the half-way point of a cross-England journey. It is most famous for its 191 year old working Beam Engine, which will be in steam today 🙂

Some other weekend: Bristol to Bath and Bath to Crofton (with a night in Bath) and the remaining section of London.

Expect… pictures.


Two Wheels or Two Legs

Monday’s bank holiday is the last before Christmas, a good four months away. So I better actually do something on this three-day weekend – seeing as the orienteering season, which will take up at least one day a weekend for most of the rest of the year, doesn’t kick off in England until next weekend.

Current ideas:

1. Cross England By Bike (Part 1) This is largely using National Cycle Route 4, which goes from Bristol to London, via the Kennet and Avon Canal and the River Thames. I’ll be doing it in stages, over the course of several weekends. I will be doing the Reading to Windsor section for sure, on Monday, with some friends. One plan would be to start at Devizes early on Sunday morning, visit the Caen Hill Flight there and then head east, via Hungerford and Newbury, to Reading. (Possibly stopping short of Reading depending on the Reading start time on the Monday.) This would be a 62 mile route – possibly a little optimstic for me as I only just managed Oxford to Reading previously which is around 40 miles. An excellent description of the route is on Waterscape (parts 2 and 3 would be the sections I would do.) This would leave the Bristol to Devizes section (40 miles + any distance west of Bristol) for another day, although I would like to visit Bath so might spend longer doing that section. Also the Windsor (or Staines) to the Thames Barrier section – going basically right through London – would also be for another day.

2. A Due North walk – to complement my Due South walk (pictures.) However, as going north from where I am gets pretty boring after Arsenal’s stadium at Highbury, and because I would like to slice across central London again, I would probably start my walk from where I used to live, on Swan Street in Borough, south London, and walk north over London Bridge and through the City – and beyond, to a not-yet-determined end point. The weather is looking cooler and more pleasant than last time I did my walk (33 degrees) although next week is supposed to get much hotter.

3. The Wandle Trail. Well way-marked (PDF map) and short, although it does land me up in Croydon…

At the moment I’m leaning towards option 2, as I was pretty wrecked after Oxford-Reading, but both will definitely be done soon.