The Tandem Club
The 2013 Easter Rally took place at Briarfields Hotel and Touring Park. Rally members were able to choose between camping pitches, motel accommodation or a travelodge. Despite weather forecasts of snow and ice earlier in the week the weekend proved to be sunny and dry although cold.
The Regency town of Cheltenham Spa and Briarfields lies on the Gloucester side of Cheltenham with good cycle access to the town and both the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Beauty and the Severn Valley. The towns of Tewkesbury, Cirencester, Bishop's Cleeve and Gloucester were all within reasonable cycling distance. For the Railway Buffs the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway was not far away.
Friday -Winchcombe, GWR Toddington & Broadway
The rides all headed out to the north east. After crossing Cheltenham just to the west of the town centre, we then head North over Cleeve Hill. This is the only significant climb of the day and was good practise for Sunday. During this climb you can take in the views over Severn Vale to the Malvern Hills and beyond. All routes then descend into the attractive small town of Winchcombe. Here you will find good pubs and tea shops, Sudeley Castle, the GWR steam railway, Winchcombe Pottery and several other attractions, all more or less on your route. After the pottery the routes split: the short route headed off to the North East via the recommended lunch stop at The Gardeners Arms in Alderton, before heading south back to Cheltenham via Gotherington and Bishops Cleeve. The medium and long routes go further North East as far as Stanton and Broadway respectively (both stunningly pretty villages) along what is considered to be one of the most attractive roads that you can find locally. They then return back south to visit the GWR Toddington Railway centre (good café), passing through Toddington village and Alderton (for lunch?), at which point the routes then merge again to make your way home along the short route. So in summary, once over Cleeve Hill, a relatively gentle ride thereafter.
In the evening most participants enjoyed a fish and chip supper in the Reddings Community Centre just a short distance from the campsite.
Saturday -Tewkesbury & Beckford Silk
More or less entirely in the Severn Vale, so reasonably flat, these rides all headed North to Tewkesbury.
The short ride takes a fairly direct route to Tewkesbury and back, with only a short stretch of the out and back routes actually overlapping. Once there you should find Tewkesbury an interesting older town worth exploring on foot and you should find enough to keep you occupied for couple of hours at least.
The long and medium rides follow a longer route via Beckford Silk, where there is a café and a shop so that you can treat yourself to a posh frock, or at least a smart silk scarf or tie. Both long and medium rides continue together into Tewkesbury, from where the long route takes a further detour across to the west of the River Severn around some lovely quiet lanes (assuming the River Severn is not flooded yet again!).
All rides merge together once more just to the south of Tewkesbury from where they meander back south along fairly quiet roads back to the campsite.
Sunday - Chedworth Roman Villa, Bibury and Northleach
All rides start off by cutting across the southern side of Cheltenham, then turn south to climb sharply up the North Cotswold scarp. Towards the top you are rewarded with extensive views to the north and west. Turning east off the main road the climb continues, before losing a little height to cross the main Cheltenham – Cirencester road at Seven Springs. A very short stretch of main road then follows before again turning onto quieter lanes (with more hills I’m afraid) via Upper Coberley (the clue is in the name!), Lower Hilcot and onto Withington. From there it is a shortish hop to refreshments at Chedworth Roman Villa (National Trust).
Leaving the Villa, the rides split:
The short ride re-traces the route back to Withington before heading off via Andoversford, Whittington (the very interesting Whittington Court Elizabethan manor house can be visited when open), another gradual climb and then sharply back down into Cheltenham to return to base.
The long and medium routes head further out before their return: the long route onto Bibury (picturesque, pubs and tea shops) then back to Northleach; the medium ride takes a shorter route to Northleach (picturesque, pubs and tea shops). Both rides then head back via Brockhampton (excellent pub) and Whittington to re-join the short route back to base.
Nigel Pigott writes:
We had a particularly good day on Sunday. Following the Roman Villa visit we found we had time in hand so decided to take up the suggestion of visiting Whittington Court, a Tudor manor house where Elizabeth I once dined. It's only open for a few weeks a year. We were personally shown round by the lady of the house and her daughter and as we were leaving some friends of the family arrived with their instruments and treated us to an impromptu Mozart string quartet!
To round things off we decided to follow Graham's other recommendation and called in at the Brewmaster pub for a pint. If there is a better pub in Cheltenham it must be pretty good, although the Royal Union runs it a close second.
AGM and Welcome
O.S.Map ref: 163/909219
Please feel free to use the routes below and enjoy the rides.