Total tour distance: 105 miles
Daily tour distance: 35 miles
Difficulty: 40 / 100
Prehistoric sites and rolling downs in the Vale of the White Horse, Oxfordshire
Bicycle Beano cycling holidays are a fine blend of delicious vegetarian cuisine, friendly groups, and brilliant cycling on the idyllic country lanes of Wales, the Welsh Borders and the South and West of England.
Each year we run a handful of carefully-crafted holidays. We take over a country house or a residential centre, fillit with 20-30 guests, and organise scenic day rides with a variety of shortcuts and detours to suit a wide range of cycling abilities.
The Vale of the White Horse is a magical place, with ancient sites shrouded in myth. The White Horse itself, a great image cut into the chalk of the hillside, has watched over the farmers of the vale for more than three thousand years. After a gap of several years, we return to this wonderful landscape for a new, extended version of the White Horse Weekend.
The vale is a gently undulating plain nestling between the Marlborough Downs and the Cotswolds. There are great views, rolling countryside and miles of quiet lanes.
On Saturday we cross the Vale and climb over the Downs, descending past a field of burial mounds into the famous “racehorse country” around Lambourn. Later we ride along a short stretch of the ancient Ridgeway track to visit the megalithic long barrow of Wayland’s Smithy and take in the views from White Horse Hill, admiring the spot where St George fought the dragon (so they say!).
Sunday takes us across the Vale again and into the foothills of the Cotswolds, passing through great country estates and visiting a towering folly built by a great twentieth-century eccentric.
On Monday we travel half-forgotten lanes and pass through secluded villages, following the old wool-traders’ routes through the valleys of the Thames and Windrush rivers. Water levels allowing, we even have the opportunity to walk through the Thames, using the only ford in the river’s entire 215-mile length.
This is a great opportunity to stay at Charney Manor, a beautiful Cotswold-style medieval manor house dating from the 13th century – one of the oldest inhabited houses in Britain. This grade 1 listed building was once the grange of the Benedictine abbey of Abingdon, and is now owned and managed by Quakers as a unique and comfortable venue for groups and courses. Set in a quiet village in the middle of the Vale of the White Horse, it’s an ideal venue for a relaxed weekend of cycling.
Accommodation is in single and twin bedrooms with ensuite facilities or private bathrooms, either in the manor house itself or in the converted barn across the courtyard. Our bikes are stored indoors.
The weekend begins with dinner on Friday evening and ends after tea and cakes on Monday afternoon.