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US team seeking Cotswolds route ideas

Jeff Thomas2024-04-13 19:51:44

Colorado-based couple planning to visit Cotswolds 4-14 May. For first half of stay we'll be based in Oakridge Lynch, about 10 mi. W of Cirencester. For second half, we'll be in Stow-on-the-Wold. We'll be bringing our Co-Motion Speedster in two cases, to be assembled upon our arrival in Oakridge Lynch.

Sadly, no West Country Group rides are planned for this time window, so we won't be able to join sad. But we're equipped with the Central-England edition of Jack Thurston's excellent "Lost Lanes" series, and our lodgings will be within 3 mi. of access to Thurston's "At the Crossroads" route. We may not have the pre-season training necessary to complete all 48 miles in one go, but we can hook into the route at Sapperton, jump off the route at Cirencester and follow a Cycle Travel route for the 10 miles back to Oakridge Lynch.

After our stay in Oakridge Lynch, we plan to ride to Stow-in-the-Wold, where we will be lodging directly the town, while a taxi ferries our bags to our inn.

Stow-on-the-Wold sits directly on Thurston's "This Charming Land" route. Whether we attempt the full circuit, or instead do a couple of out-and-backs on different days, we're not sure yet.

But I would be delighted to learn of any 10-30 mile loop rides that have close access to either Oakridge Lynch or Stow-in-the-Wold. I will be searching the club's library of rides, but would appreciate any local knowlege to guide our selection.

We won't have a car during our stay; we're relying on taxi service to get us into the Costwolds from Oxford, and to get us to the Moreton train platform on the day of our return to the London area. For this reason, we're interested in cycling routes that are within reasonable bike reach of our lodgings.


Dmitrii Pasechnik2024-04-13 21:04:54

Hi, a tandem rider from Oxford here:-)

My stoker is 11 y.o., so for us 40 mi is a limit nowadays, and we are probably too slow to show you around on a bike.

Few remarks - you can take a train to Swindon or, even better, to Stroud, and take a taxi from there to your 1st stop.

A taxi there from Oxford wouldn't be that easy to get - it's too far for a regular taxi, I think, and will cost a foot and a leg.

From Stow-on-the-Wold, a bit closer station is Kingham (unless you take direct A429, which I don't recommend - in general, avoid Axy and Axyz roads - some of them might have a cycle lane, or just be wide enough - but some Axy are plain dangerous for cycling), and the ride to there is quite pleasant, mostly long downhill.

Regarding rides, the area around Stroud and Nailsworth is quite nice, if you are into climbing in particular.


From Stow, you can think of doing a ride to Charlbury and back.

Please shout if you need anything in Oxford, e.g. storage, a college visit, etc :-)





James Gill2024-04-13 22:04:12

Hi, tandem pilot from Swindon. I don't have any pre-made routes from Oakridge Lynch specifically but I can definitely recommend some great nearby cafes and areas to visit. It's a hilly area there - some steep climbs with pretty views at the top. Pretty much every road up to Minchinhampton Common is like this. As a cafe stop, the Jolly Nice is quite nearby and a favourite of ours. Also the Knead bakery in Elkstone is great.

Finally, I strongly advise avoiding this road in the screenshot! Very poor surface and steep. Going a longer way round will be more pleasant

James Gill2024-04-13 22:04:12

Hi, tandem pilot from Swindon. I don't have any pre-made routes from Oakridge Lynch specifically but I can definitely recommend some great nearby cafes and areas to visit. It's a hilly area there - some steep climbs with pretty views at the top. Pretty much every road up to Minchinhampton Common is like this. As a cafe stop, the Jolly Nice is quite nearby and a favourite of ours. Also the Knead bakery in Elkstone is great.

Finally, I strongly advise avoiding this road in the screenshot! Very poor surface and steep. Going a longer way round will be more pleasant

David Gray2024-04-15 08:04:08

There is an organisation in the UK called Sustrans who facilitate the National Cycle Route.If you look on their website you can search routes by keywords eg Cirencester and you will see parts of the network in that area, they also have maps etc. You can filter routes by traffic free etc.

Hope this helps

Sheila Ward2024-04-15 14:18:58

You might find some good routes here:




Neil Benton2024-04-16 14:50:54

We live near Stow on the Wold but we don’t tandem there very often as Stow is at the top of a hill and we are in Broadway which is at the bottom of the hill. 

Here are some routes which might be of interest:

 Stow -> Lower Swell -> towards Harford Br -> Snowshill -> Chipping Campden ->Moreton in Marsh -> Evenlode ->Broadwell -> Stow.  We have done this route on our tandem and it was tough but manageable.  From this loop you can drop down to Broadway or Toddington to see the steam trains in action but it will mean a big climb back up the hill to join the loop.

Stow -> Broadwell -> Adlestrop -> Kingham -> Chadlington -> Charlbury -> Leafield -> Shipston-under-Wychwood -> Kingham and return.  I have done the Kingham to Charlbury sections on a tandem with daughter on the back.

You can extend the above route from Chadlington to include Finstock and Long Hanborough to Woodstock.  Woodstock has Blenheim palace which is the ancestral home of Winston Churchill.  This runs in part along the busy A4095 but the last time I did it there was a cycle path along most of this road.

From Stow -> Evenlode -> Moreton in Marsh -> then various loops taking in the villages of Todenham, Cherington, Stourton, Whichford, Great Wolford, Long Compton, Barton on the Heath, and even Hook Norton. Avoid long stretches on the A3400 as it can be busy with fast traffic.  Hook Norton is the home of Hook Norton Ales and the brewery has a visitors centre and does guided tours.  The brewery still has shire horses to deliver the beer locally and these can be seen on the guided tours.  https://www.hooky.co.uk/visit-us/book-a-brewery-tour/

There is a Roman villa at Chedworth which you should be able to get to via quiet roads.  Stow -> Lower Swell -> Lower Slaughter -> Bourton on the Water -> North Leach (avoid A429) -> Chedworth.  There are some steep climbs on this route.

The villages of Lower Slaughter, Upper Slaughter and Bourton on the Water are often visited by trips to the Cotswolds and are reachable from Stow.

 I find Ordnance Survey maps the best to use for planning, these are available on bing maps. I also use https://cycle.travel this has a useful feature of being able to suggest circular rides of a user selectable distance.  The routes are routed to prefer low traffic roads and are usually very cycle friendly.


Here are some roads I would avoid as they are busy with traffic.  A429, A424, A44, A3400

Hope this is useful.

Please get in touch if you need anything further.  Depending on your dates we would be happy to come for a ride with you.


Neil & Anna

Jeff Thomas2024-05-05 23:25:27

The Cotswolds are greener and more lovely than we had envisioned. The hills are steeper. In Colorado we're used to 7% for 16 miles, not 16% for .7 km. These hills are like the hills in Vermont. Killer.

But, we're here. We arrived at tiny Oakridge on Saturday, and took a walk to even tinier Frampton Mansell, to get to a market to obtain some provisions. We have no car with us. It's either ride or walk, and on Saturday we hadn't yet assembled our tandem. On the way to Frampton, as we walked down the road from Oakridge to the River Frome -- the very road that James has, in this thread, advised us to avoid -- we encountered Mark and Louise (I'm guessing at the spellings; apologies for any mistake), portaging their tandem *up* the road. "We knew the Americans were coming today and we wondered if we would see them," Louise said. Small tandem world!

Thanks to all who responded with route suggestions. Between your suggestions and others I've pulled together from Lost Lanes and other sources, I've mapped out a dozen or so possible day routes that can be accomplished, in whole or part, form our current base of Oakridge (through May 8), and our later base of Stow-on-the-Wold (May 10-14). You can find them here,

To that collection of routes I've added a few maps to the Kemble Station routes featured at the Road Cycling Routes page at the Cotswolds National Landscape site. The site doesn't provide GPX files for those routes, so we have them on paper only.

We don't plan to ride every day, or every one one of those routes; I assembled them to have a variety of options to suit our ambition -- and weather -- for the day. (We plan to ride from Oakridge to Stow on May 9, while a taxi ferries our bags.)

The bike is now assembled, and the current forecast for Monday is about 50-50 for rain between 2 and 6 p.m. If we do ride, a simple out-and-back -- either west to poke around Stroud, or east to Cirencester to explore that city, or one of the CNL routes -- appears to be our agenda for now. The weather looks more favorable starting Tuesday, so we are saving anything more ambitious for that part of the week.

Before we left the States, our lodging service gave us notice that the day of our arrival in Stow corresponds with the start of the semi-annual Gypsy horse fair. We're not exactly sure what to expect, but all in for adventure, I guess.


Neil Benton2024-05-06 09:51:42

There are conflicting reports about levels of petty crime increasing or decreasing when these horse fairs are on. But to be safe I would take a little extra care over locking the bike when un attended.  But also enjoy the adventure.

On a separate point, the bluebells are in bloom at the moment. The local woods should be carpeted in blue flowers. 


Jeff Thomas2024-05-17 18:33:48


During our 10-day visit to the Cotswolds, we got in 6 days of riding. Thanks to the club members who arranged what we were told was the best week of weather Britain has seen since last autumn.

We started our visit based in Oakridge Lynch, a small village north of the River Frome between Cirencester and Stroud. A lovely spot, with a wonderful pub, Butchers Arms. During our 4 1/2 days there, we chatted with cyclists stopping by the pub, mixed with the parochial school kids during their play time, and even attended a "play with music" staged at the village hall by the Oakridge Players. We met and talked with several of the residents of the village.

Our first ride was a simple out-and-back to Stroud, where we got a bit lost finding our way to Stratford Park for a picnic lunch. But a helpful resident stepped out of his front door to guide us. As we climbed out of Stroud on the return trip, the views over the Frome Valley were lovely. For our first ride ever on British roads under British rules, we did pretty well, caused no crashes, and felt ready for the next day . . . 

. . . which was an amended version of Jack Thurston's "At the Crossroads" route from the Central volume of his "Lost Lanes" series. We hooked into his loop at Sapperton, then followed the route down through Kemble and up through Cirencester. We short-cut the eastern lobe of the route by following the National Cycle Route 48 from Cirencseter up to Coln Rogers, then following Thurston's route again, 'round to our Sapperton connection point, then back to Oakridge. The peaceful, immaculate villages of Coln Rogers and Coln St. Dennis, and the views toward Chedworth over the River Coln as we climbed toward Yanworth during the "golden hour" of sunlight, are images that will remain with us for a lifetime. They will define what "Cotswolds" means to us. For me, the 5-mile run from Winstone to Sapperton was a flat-road, resistanceless, high-speed highlight. We took a chance when we ignored the "Road Closed Ahead" signs, were encouraged as we encountered cars coming from that direction as we neared the supposed closure, and ultimately were rewarded when we encountered the actual "closure," which was nothing but signs announcing a closure but nothing actually closed. Saved us a potentially lengthy detour, which would have been a setback as the sun was nearing the horizon and daylight was becoming increasingly precious. The day's repeated climbs out of the steep ravines that marked the locations of most towns on the route just about did us in; we practically collapsed upon our return to our lodging. There is a special feeling to earning your sleep.

After a rest day, we rode to our next base, Stow-on-the-Wold. From there, after a morning in Stow we did a short loop out to the Slaughters and Bourton; and on the next day a longer loop to the National Trust Roman Villa site near Chetworth (that included a return to Yanworth, where we had a lovely chat with a resident of the estate who was mowing -- with a push mower -- an immense community park space) and then a quick loop out to Broadway Tower, a day on which clouds and rain made their return, but not before we had returned to Stow.

None of the rides were epic length, but we like to linger at the places we visit, and to stop and appreciate the views, and to picnic -- and in any case by my calculation we logged between 175 and 200 miles total. Not nothing. We saw many towns and villages up high and down low, and met many lovely people along the way -- including the young woman at the wheel of a car that pulled alongside and shrieked "is that a TANdem? I love it!" nearly causing us to topple over with surprise. All in all, it was worth the cost and hassle of lugging the Speedster across the ocean. We plan to do it again.

We are grateful for your generosity with route suggestions and other advice. Should any members of the club journey to the States to ride the Rocky Mountains, please feel free to stop by the Colorado Tandem Club to engage with the locals for guidance.

Jeff Thomas2024-05-17 19:34:46