Stow on the Wold

12th September 2004

The September run to the Cotswolds was a tad ambitious at 114 miles to the pub, clear blue sky in London was encouraging but the forecast for the west country was heavy showers and gales moving east later in the day. Nevertheless 13 bikes and 17 riders set off from Warr’s.

The group made good time to Henley, across the Thames into some very pretty roads and across the ominously named ‘Gallows tree common’ then down to Goring to cross the Thames yet again (third time in 20 miles) to Streatley. The A417 beckoned as the westward sky darkened ominously and occasional stronger gusts blowing down off the Lambourn Downs reminded us of the forecast.

Through sweeping curves and sleepy towns we were at the fuel stop south of Faringdon on schedule in two hours - some donned wet gear but others took an optimistic view (mistake). Into Faringdon and our luck ran out - ROAD CLOSED! And then the heavens opened, no obvious detour so we worked around the unknown obstruction in heavy rain. Off the recce’d route, on farm tracks, some very wet riders, an early lunch stop in the nearest pub became the preferred option - back into Faringdon (this time from the north).

The rain stopped, we found the town square deserted except for a forlorn band in a marquee and a guy on stilts entertaining two kids - into the nearest pub - the bar was full of Roundheads, muskets and pikes at rest and fraternising with Royalists, all in full period dress - a 350 year time warp. Unfortunately the pub’s idea of service was also in a time warp, the slowest lunch delivery I’ve seen for many a year!

All agreed to cut short the ride, the rain had passed but the sky remained threatening and valuable time had been lost. A reduced group donned wet gear over still damp jeans and headed back via the A415 through Abingdon, back to Henley and east on the M4.

Lessons learned? Put your wet gear on before the rain starts! Recce the route but beware closure of village squares for ‘events’. Don’t stop in Faringdon for lunch - it’s the pits. Thanks again to the ‘Sealed Knot’ - we can tell you where to shove those pikes!

Richard Beake - C&F Road Captain