A nice day ride to North Leigh and Charlbury

Aug 7, 06:42 AM

Jennifer and I took a trip to see the remains of a Roman villa near the village of North Leigh. Getting out of Oxford by bike is rarely picturesque. This time we rode north to the A40 and followed the cycle path along it for a few miles before turning off onto quieter roads. The traffic was irritating but the path itself was generally decent: not wide enough to ride two abreast, but generally in good shape. I’d happily use it again to get quickly to the northwestern part of Oxfordshire.

By the route we took, the villa was about 11.5 miles from Oxford. It was a quarter mile from the road, down a rough unpaved track. We cycled parts of it and dismounted for the rockiest bits. The ruins were impressive and included a restored mosaic protected by a modern structure. Unfortunately the door was locked so we had to admire the mosaic through the windows.

Afterwards we cycled another 5 miles to the rail station in Charlbury. Jennifer took the train back to Oxford, while I rode back. After the first 4 miles of backtracking, I took a different route—one we had taken last year in the other direction, through North Leigh, Eynsham, and Botley. Most of the way there was little traffic. It was exhilarating to cycle along in the sun, with a light wind sometimes helping and sometimes hindering, with the occasional steep hill offset by a general trend downward toward Oxford. I haven’t felt such sheer joy in cycling since leaving the US. Our tour in the Netherlands was fun, and I’ve had some good rides in Oxford before this, but yesterday’s return was simply thrilling.

Our ride to Charlbury was about 16.5 miles, and my return about 18.4, for a total distance just shy of 35 miles. I reset the GPS in Charlbury, so the ride is recorded in two segments: part 1 and part 2.

Brian W. Ogilvie

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