7.Henley to Wallingford loop.
Start: Henley town centre
Distance: 31 miles
Roads: Vast majority on quiet lanes .
Difficulty rating: moderate-tough.
Total Climb: 1960 ft
Beauty Rating: 5/5
This is an absolutely lovely ride. I defy anyone to find a more peaceful and beautiful ride anywhere in the south east of England. Even though this ride starts only 35 miles away from the centre of London it is rural England looking its most magnificant. The route climbs the Chiltern Hills via Stoke Row to its edge, then drops you down to the outskirts of Wallingord. It then travels underneath the Chiltern ridge where the topography feels different and the villages look different. You then climb the imposing Britwell Hill to re- enter the Hills and return to Henley. Tremendous views abound and thereare lots of opportunities to visit some excellent pubs for refreshment.
1. Henley centre (122ft) to Sonning Common(313ft) 5.26 miles
From the Parish Church head west along Thameside with the Angel pub on your left. Continue following along the river towards Reading, then as the road bears right with the station to your left. At the traffic lights go left towards Reading . Take the right hand turn to Peppard and Harspden by the Three Horshoes pub. Follow up then round past Harpsden Church. Keep on road through Harpsden village and as the road gradually ascends for 2 miles along the valley bottom. You travel past the big satellite dishes of the BBC monitoring station at Crowsley Park, then the road climbs more steeply up to the junction. Turn right to Sonning Common passing the Butchers Arms to your left.
2 .Sonning Common(313ft) to Stoke Row(565ft)-Wallingord outskirt(180ft) 9.14miles
At the junction go straight across to Stoke Row on Stoke Row road. Continue on to Stoke Row as road bears right by the Unicorn. The road continues to gradually climb all the way to Stoke Row. At the junction go left towards Checkendon passing the Cherry Tree pub on your right and then Majarajahs Well. It is well worth stopping and reading the unique story of the 370ft deep well and its Indian benefactor. Take the next left down Uxmore Road following the blue(5) cycle route signs .After 1/3 mile take the right turn down the “quiet lane” following the (5) signs. Follow on the same direction until you reach the well hidden and magical Blackhorse pub. The Black horse is an unchanged and unspoilt gem having been in the same family for over 100 years-pass it by if you have no soul!
Once at the junction go straight over following (5) signs. Keep following the signs as you take the next left. The road is a little “rural” for some high end road bikes but a little discomfort is worth it for the stunning view about to unfold. Take in the vista with the Berkshire downs and Didcot powerstation in the distance .Continue downwards. The lanes here are amongst the quietest and most beautiful you will experience anywhere in the south east. Follow the (5) signs to the right signposted to the village store. Descend then ascend following the (5) signs straight across at the crossroads. This is a fast few miles on good roads crossing over the Ridgeway path as you go. The lane then drops more fiercely to the main road .Just before the junction take the right hand cycle path and go right onto the roundabout. If you wanted to visit the riverside town of Wallingford take the first left, otherwise take the third exit toward Ewelme.
3. Wallingford outskirts(180ft) to Britwell Salome(420ft) 4.7 miles
The road to Ewelme can get relatively busy so take care as it travel on for 1 ½ miles with views of the Chiltern ridge to your right. At the junction go right then left and left again following signs to Ewelme. Follow the lane downwards enjoying a great view over the village. Go left through this lovely village famed for its watercress beds. Note the difference in architecture from the Chiltern villages and the thatch on the roofs. Take the right hand turn to Brightwell and go up the hill bearing left as it becomes Cat Lane. Follow the hill upwards for 2/3 mile. At the busier B4009 go right towards Watlington. Carry on into Britwell Salome turning right by the Goose pub toward Britwell Hill.
4. Britwell Salome(420ft) toBritwell Hill(746ft) to Stoner(295ft) 5.5miles
Follow this lane with views of the escalator like Britwell Hill ahead, gateway to re-enter the brick, flint and beechwoods land of the Chilterns .This is a hard climb up to 746ft in half a mile. Once at the top follow on to the junction -turning right. Stay on this road for a short while turning left to Russells Water. Enjoy the fantastic views over the wooded hills beyond and past the Duck pond(chitty chitty bang bang crashed here in 1968). Continue past the Five Horsehoes pub then skirting Maidensgrove common, continuing onwards as it descends sharply through the cathedral like beechwoods. Slow down to enjoy the views over Stoner house as you lose height. At the junction at the bottom turn right.
5. Stoner(295ft) to Bix(433ft) to Henley(122ft) 6 miles
Follow this road along the valley bottom for almost 2 miles. Just as you reach Middle Assendon take the second right small lane to Bix along White Lane. Continue this longish climb through the woods delivering you onto Bix common at the top. Follow round the edge of the common as it takes you sharply left then past Bix church. At the main road take care as you go straight over to Bix manor. Follow road going right up through the woods. If you get a chance then ride through these woods in bluebell season(2 or 3 weeks in May usually) as Lambridge woods are carpeted with them. At the junction turn right and follow this road for 2 miles past Badgemore golf club back to Henley town centre.