A gallop across ‘White Horse’ country


Despite the subdued glee of loved ones promising biblical flooding (not seen since yesterday),  Nine brave, waterproof (?), optimistic, club members swung out of McDs in Abingdon heading for the rolling landscape of the North Wessex Downs. Home to the West Saxons since AD 450 and in more recent times occupied by short fellahs dressed in glorious silk outfits astride thoroughbred beasts – no, not Simon Cowell.



Before departure we had gathered in McD to fortify ourselves with caffeine. Oh my. How confusing. Where do I get a coffee from? Touch screen, are you sure? Wear a face mask? But I want to drink it in here. What’s my table number? You mean only one person at a time can go to the toilet. And so on. But the lovely serving staff are just taking care of us in these Covid times so lots of smiles and cheer is the order of the day. Goodbye, we will be back . . . . . . . arm-twisted by assertive grand children no doubt!


A gentle glide towards Sparsholt and the B4507 which runs westward below the Ridgeway Path. We pass by the Uffington White Horse believed to have been created during the Anglo-Saxon era, either by King Alfred to celebrate his victory over the Danes in 871 or by Hengist, the first Saxon king, whose emblem was a white horse. No time to take in the detail as we navigate mounds of debris and gravel dislodged by Wednesday’s rainfall. This time of day traffic is light and progress is brisk. At Ashbury we turn onto the B4000, oh my what a treat. Tower Hill flashes by on our left as we scoot towards Lambourne. We are in serious horse racing country, handsome beasts populate the paddocks and training grounds as we pass by.



Leaving Lambourne we head towards Chilton Foliat passing under a thundering M4 we are immersed in a lush Wiltshire idyll. Soon we arrive in the delightful village of Ramsbury known throughout the world for its Vodka and Beer (Ed. note – shum mistake surely!)



We turn east before Marlborough for a short jaunt on the A4 before turning off towards Chisbury and Little Bedwyn alongside the Kennet and Avon Canal. Opened in 1810 and running from Newbury to Bath it was a prosperous waterway up to 1840 when the Great Western Railway arrived in Bath. Sections of the canal started closing in the mid 1950’s but intervention by local volunteers helped restore it to the fine state that it is today.


Little Bedwyn was our refresh point. The earlier dampish overcast skies had been replaced with bright sunshine and dry tarmac. At this point we were treated to the sight of a mud-spattered, high mileage, seen better days, hipster wannabe, current model and a R NineT.




The 2nd part of our ride was intended to be a zip along the gorgeous A338  towards East IIsley for lunch at the Crown and Thorns. Somehow we found a detour via the A4 and the A34 . . . .  but as they say “all roads lead to Rome”.  Lunch was satisfying if slow, conversation was spirited and obviously well-informed, camaraderie was first class. Wash and polish those Bavarian masterpieces guys, even more of Summer 2020 awaits the Oxford Meetup Rideouts. Be safe. Enjoy. Until the next time. . . . . .  and ‘thank you’ for your generous donations to Thames Valley Air Ambulance.


Author: James O'Shea