Checkpoint Numbers & Names
Wiltshire 2 – Malmesbury
Gloucestershire 4 – Sapperton Tunnel
Day 25 was to be another milestone day for me – fifty checkpoints visited and my chance to earn the second BCQ certificate on a short but what was an ultimately pleasant ride.
Looking for a start point for this ride wasn’t as easy as I would have have hoped so I opted to start my ride at Malmesbury where the first checkpoint is located, and then ride the relatively short eleven miles up to the second checkpoint of the day, and my 50th checkpoint in total, and then the eleven mile journey back (via a different route).
So, having parked the car at the large public car park, it was a short ride up the hill in to the middle of town where I found the old Market Cross monument, and took the obligatory photograph for posterity. Once getting back on the road proper it was a short down hill and then up again before a long two mile plateau past the Dyson HQ and past the village of Brokenborough. From here the road started to hit the edges of the Cotswolds so it was a long slow climb up to the village of Long Newnton before cutting across the foothills avoiding Tetbury and joining up with the somewhat busy A433.
Fortunately, the stretch along the A433 was only around 1.5 miles long, so after only ten minutes or so of ‘head down, a**e up’ it was time to turn off the main road and continue along the lanes through Rodmarton and on to the highest point of the ride at Tarlton, resisting the urge to stop for a drink I pushed on, and after only a mile I saw the sign for the pub at Sapperton Tunnel that was the second checkpoint of the day, and instructed me to turn left off of the road. The road down to the pub was actually nothing more than a very rutted, chalk and flint track which was OK for my 700 x 35 touring tyres but may be a bit much for those on skinier tyres, so you may need to walk the quarter of a mile or so to the checkpoint.
Once at the checkpoint, a quick check of the watch revealed it was nearly lunchtime, so what better place to stop for something to eat. The pub sits over the south entrance to Sapperton Tunnel which at one time was one of the longest canal tunnels in the country. Whilst much of the tunnel has fallen in to disrepair and is currently un-passable the entrance is still well preserved and there is a some interesting visitor information to read. The pub itself was originally built to house the navies that were working on building the tunnel and was then converted in to a commercial inn for passing canal trade. Now it is a tourist attraction catering for holiday makers and locals, serving a nice range of food and real ales.
So after a BLT sandwich, and the obligatory pint of real ale it was back on the road to the start at Malmesbury – As the day was planned to be a bit of a ‘fill in’ day I planned the return journey to be on some busier roads to get me back to the start.
Leaving Sapperton the route took me briefly north through to the village of Coates where I then turned back south again via the A433, and then through Kemble to link up with the A429 on what was intended to be a non-stop ride straight through to Malmesbury, however shortly after passing the edge of Cotswold Airport I couldn’t resist stopping at the village of Crudwell where there was a strawberry festival in full swing, and having a bit of a sweet tooth for strawberries I decided that a few of them and some cream would be the perfect way finish off my pub lunch. So after half an hour or so poking around the stalls at the festival and eating a few strawberries (and stashing a few in my pannier) it was time to jump back on the bike for an uneventful final couple of miles back in to Malmesbury.
Overall a nice pleasant three hours or so riding through some nice countryside, sampling great food and ale and eating some really nice strawberries, and amongst all that I even managed to fit in visiting a couple of checkpoints along the way!
Miles Cycled – 23
Checkpoints Visited – 2
Total Miles Cycled – 864
Total Checkpoints Visited – 50
Click here to download a gpx file for this ride