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Oxford - Wallingford - Streatley

2. 4. 2021
Peter Schrammel
Wetter: sunny, cold north-easterly wind
Oxford, 60m - Shillingford, 48m - Wallingford, 49m - Streatley, 48m - Streatley Hill, 165m - Lower Basildon, 50m - Aldworth, 165m - Ridgeway, 190m - Blewbury, 70m - Didcot, 65m - Abingdon, 55m - Oxford
Höhenmeter: 720m
Weglänge: 86km
Zeitaufwand: 5 1/2h (1 1/4 + 1/4 + 3/4 + 1/4 + 1/4 + 1/2 + 1/3 + 1/3 + 1/3 + 1/2 + 3/4)
Bewertung: ***: Nice views into the valley that the Thames broke through the Chiltern hills
Kondition: E
Schwierigkeit: +-++: tarmac until Wallingford, then some bumpy bridleway sections to Goring +; Streatley hill road with 26% gradient at its steepest section; bumpy, but reasonably smooth dirt roads from Aldworth up + (unuseable when wet!); a steeper section down to the actual ridgeway +-++; up and down on a worn grassy road +-++; finally tarmac down to Blewbury and Didcot, cyclepath to Abingdon 0; cyclepath to Radley non tarmacked in the beginning 0-+; cyclepath between railway and Isis back to Oxford 0
Gefährlichkeit: 0
Frequentiertheit: d: lots of cyclists and hikers
Bemerkungen: The ridgeway crossing from Aldworth to Blewbury warrants at least a trekking bike; mountainbiking skills are a plus!
After a sunny and warm week, the weather was announced to become less pleasant over the Easter weekend. Still, there should be some sunshine this Good Friday. I left at 9.45am and followed the cyclepath along the ring road to Cowley. A cool wind was blowing into my face when crossing the Thames. I usually take this way via the B480 towards the south to avoid the more direct, but quite dangerous A4074. However, there are a couple of small hills to climb, first to reach Chiselhampton in the Thame valley and then to get from Newington to Shillingford. A pheasant adventured across the road very close to me looking for his mating partner on the other side of the road – he had to take some fast steps in the last second to avoid being hit by a car. The single-lane stone bridge in Shillingford is quite a beauty spot. After one more hill I arrived in Wallingford with its historical town centre towards 10.45. I crossed the Thames using the very busy A4130. I wanted to take the cyclepath from there, but was a bit confused about road signs indicating works and a digger blocking the path. I took a short detour to return to the cyclepath at a pond in Mongewell – from the other side the path did not seem blocked – anyways. The bridleway got a bit bumpy in places, in particular from North Stoke to Little Stoke. Then I was forced to the B4009 until South Stoke. The further cyclepath to Goring is high up in the banks of the Thames with some nice views. At Goring I crossed the Thames – from the bridge there is an excellent view from the locks to the dams of the weirs on the various branches of the river. I decided to take a break on Streatley hill which dominates the western bank of the river. To get there, though, I had to climb the infamous Streatley hill road. The road sign announces a 16% gradient, which feels much steeper, though – and actually, some more accurate measurements show a gradient of 26% at its steepest section. Fortunately, the hill ends after 1km and I sat down in the grass enjoying the sunshine and the views over the valley. Despite the pandemic, a train was passing through the valley every couple of minutes. At 12.45pm I continued. I wanted to explore another valley further south. So, I rolled down towards Lower Basildon and pedalled up the Hook End Lane. I clearly felt now that my legs are not quite fresh anymore. I continued slowly to save my energy for climbing over the ridgeway pass. There were hundreds of pheasants along the road, some lonely males and some groups of males and females. After Aldworth a stopped for a couple of minutes before climbing up the dirt road over the pass and down to the ridgeway. My slick tyres were not quite the right material for those kind of roads, but it was not too bad as it was mostly dry dirt and no gravel. The more challenging part was a long straight section on grass with very deep, sometimes water-filled furrows. But also that had looked worse than it was in the end and I could attack the steep downhill to Blewbury. Icy northerly wind slowed me down quite a lot – and this would become the biggest problem on the remaining 25km. The way to Didcot, around the eery, abandoned industrial wasteland between Didcot and Abingdon and the cyclepath back to Oxford was a mere fight of exhausted legs against the wind. The gorgeous view from the Thames bank towards the historical skyline of Abingdon was the only relief midway. I arrived in Oxford at 4.45pm.