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Swindon - Barbury Castle - Inkpen Hill - Newbury

29. 8. 2021
Peter Schrammel
Wetter: overcast
Swindon, 117m - Barbury Castle, 268m - Marlborough, 135m - Great Bedwyn, 120m - Shalbourne, 125m - Buttermere, 255m - Inkpen Hill, 291m - Newbury, 78m
Höhenmeter: +695m/-734m
Weglänge: 62km
Zeitaufwand: 4h (2/3 + 1/2 + 1 + 1/3 + 1/2 + 1/2 + 1/2)
Bewertung: ***: Ironage hill forts and the Savernake Forest
Kondition: D
Schwierigkeit: ++: gravel paths along the Wilts and Berks Canal 0-+; steep road out of Wroughton up to 20%; 15% section up to the Barbury Castle parking; steep, gravel and grass road up to Barbury Castle +-++; relatively demanding gravel road down to Rockley +-++; gravel paths and roads through Savernake Forest +; 15% section up to the pass before Buttermere; very demanding gravel and grass track from Buttermere over Inkpen Hill ++; steep downhill 20% from the Walbury Hill parking
Gefährlichkeit: 0: Danger of falling into nettle and blackberry hedges. Getting from Marlborough to the Savernake Forest is a dangerous undertaking due to extremely busy A roads.
Frequentiertheit: d: very busy on most sections
I wanted to go for a ride away from Oxford on this bank holiday weekend. However, train services were sparse due to railroad works. The only connection that I was able to book was rather late and wouldn‘t make sense to go farther than Swindon where I arrived towards 11:30. I walked through the busy town centre to continue to ride along the former canal, which only exists in short sections nowadays. Finally, after a new housing development I reached the road to Wroughton. From there, I climbed up Prior‘s Hill and along the former airfield towards Broughton Castle, an iron age hill fort. Despite my slick tyres I managed to climb up the dirt road to the oval-shaped double ramparts and ditches. There were quite a lot of walkers and visitors around the site. I continued on the gravel road and then turned right to ride down on quite a demanding rocky gravel road along a horse riding race course to join the tarmac road after Rockley. After a few ups and downs I reached Marlborough with its nice town square. I wanted to continue via Savernake Forest. On the way out of Marlborough, I took the wrong road and climbed up Salisbury Hill in heavy traffic. I took the first turn to the right to escape the road and cross the forest to its Grand Avenue, a totally straight dirt road that crosses the forest over more than 2 miles. I rode past dozens of huge oak trees. At the end of the road, I took a break to eat my lunch before continuing at 2pm. It was clear that I wouldn‘t be able to complete my envisaged route and reach the train in Newbury at 5.20pm for which I had a cycle reservation. I rode down to Great Bedwyn where I crossed the railway, river Dun and the Kennet and Avon canal. Via Carver‘s Hill I rode down into Shalbourne and continued on a single track road to Ham with its triangular meadow in the middle of the village. Here I had to make the decision whether to go to Newbury directly or take the detour via Walbury Hill. Having regained my forces after lunch, I decided to do the latter. I climbed the steep hill to the pass near Buttermere and via the village I rejoined the dirt road that runs over the edge of the hills. That road had deep furrows and was quite difficult to ride. Even larger tyres wouldn‘t have helped much. I stopped on Inkpen Hill to take some pictures of the beautiful Combe valley towards the south. It was 4.30pm. I was running out of time to reach the train. It was still possible, but if I continued over near Walbury Hill then it was certainly impossible. So, I decided to roll downhill to West Woodhay. I really had to keep the pace now. I just followed the road signs to Newbury, which led me via Ball Hill and up to the hill to Wash Common. It was already after 5pm. Chances of reaching the train were diminishing. Suddenly the road started falling into Newbury which allowed me to make progress and I reached the train station when the train was arriving. Fortunately, the ticket barriers were open and I carried the bicycle over the overpass and hurried down the stairs. The closing doors started beeping. In the last second I was able to stop them with the front wheel and they reopened and I entered. Of course, I was in the wrong carriage, but I was only going one stop anyway. Before 7pm, I arrived in Oxford.