Showing posts from January, 2022

King Tone's Castle

I often cycle and walk past ‘Chequers’, the country house of the Prime Minister of the day. I recommend a tour of the security; in rural settings you rarely see so many CCTV cameras and notices telling you that awful things will happen if you climb over a fence. The whole area is quite posh. The nearby Plough Inn at Cadsden, where David Cameron famously left his daughter Nancy in the loo, has a car park stuffed with SUV’s. Not a tractor or compact in sight.  My routes and nosey nature also take me past the current homes of several former and hopefully soon-to-be former Prime Ministers. The last ‘country home’ of Boris Johnson was outside Thame, on my ‘Midsomer Murders’ cycle tour. It is a large-ish farm building at the end of a short lane. Not grand. Boris, of course, has had the need for a variety of residences to accommodate his variety of partners and spawn. I gather that this was one he bought with his former wife and is now let out. He prefers his modest terrace house in Westminst

The World Of: Stephen Graham

  You probably haven't heard of Stephen Graham. His books came out in the 1920's, sandwiched between the Victorian predilection for poking into the dark corners of the planet, and the post war boom that made it much more feasible and affordable to do so.  But he was a true, hopeless, bewitched, soppy beyond words romantic of the genre.  Have you read anything by Robert MacFarlane? Stephen Graham was a muse for him. But as company for a pint? His motive was modern enough. 'What a relief it is 'to escape from being voter, tax-payer, authority on old brass, brother of man who is an authority on old brass, author of best seller, uncle of author of best seller, what a relief to cease being for a while a grade-three clerk, or grade-two clerk who has reached his limit, to cease to be identified by one’s salary or by one’s golf handicap.’   No chance of a career in programming then! T his is a bloke who went quite a stretch to avoid a golf course in both his meanderings and his

Highs And Lows of Cherwell

GPX File of the route:   Highs & Lows of Cherwell This is a varied but undemanding ride around the fringes of the Cotswolds in Northern Oxfordshire. It leaves Bicester using the cycle path to the South of the A41 then crosses that road to follow the Roman ‘Akeman Street’ to its conclusion. The route then heads north for 10 miles across higher ground to cross the River Cherwell at Somerton. You then climb around 200 ft, into the Eastern foothills of the Cotswolds and follow a scenic ridge road for a few miles before turning south towards Islip and the flat and empty marshland of Otmoor.  Outside of Bicester, the ride uses minor and usually well-maintained roads. There are no off road sections. The living is easy, the fish are jumping etc. Zooming In Highlights are: Laughing at the ersatz ‘consumer paradise’ of Bicester Shopping Village. Enjoying the genuine character of the Cotswold stone villages, Lower Heyford, Somerton, Dun's Tew, Islip and Chalton

Giro de Lilley Bottom - 30 & 40 mile Versions

  GPX file of the route     Giro De Lilley Bottom 30 & 40 mile version This is a tour of the varied and undulating countryside of the eastern Chilterns and the valleys of the Mimram and Lea Rivers. The route starts from Harpenden Railway Station and heads down to and across the valley of the River Lea. It then crosses the higher ground between the rivers, ducks under the Luton Airport flightpath, and descends into ‘Lilley Bottom’ for 3 miles. This is the valley of the River Mimram, but this usually only emerges on the surface to flow south, where you join the valley road and head north where the valley is dry. At this point the two routes diverge. The longer route, which probably doesn’t suit lightweight road bikes, takes you over the scarp and into the vale beyond before doubling back to Offley. It adds about 10 miles overall. The shorter route takes you straight to Offley. From there you have a meandering route back to Wheathampstead and then Harpenden. Zooming In Highligh

A Tour of Rothschildshire

Link to GPX File of the Route  :     Rothschildshire Rothschildshire is not a name I made up. It is often used to describe the Aylesbury Vale. The paw marks of the extended banking dynasty are all over it and this is a tour around the fabulous mansions they built here. You pass 7 in all! Starting from Wendover, it heads north across the River Thame and through Eyethrope Park to Waddesdon, the greatest pile of all. Think, the Adams Family win the Lottery. Then it heads west, going through lovely Quainton en route to Wing where it turns south past crumbling Mentmore before returning to Wendover via Tring along roads between the Chilterns Scarp and the Wendover Arm of the Grand Union Canal. It is mostly flat and on-road with a few undemanding climbs. The exception is at Eythrope See ‘Route Tips’ below. Zooming In Highlights are: The Rothschild Mansions. 7 of them! Eyethrope, Waddesdon, Ascott, Mentmore, Tring, Aston Clinton & Halton. Tring Natural History Muse