Travelogue: Day 8 - Biking the Cotswolds
(I will add pictures later.)
I have dreamed of doing this since 2012 when I contacted Pedal England and Will Cairns. They had an amazing seven day guided bike trip (that I see is not on their itinerary anymore). We thought that seven days, just biking is more than we wanted so we settled for one day and self-guided. I think it was a great choice.
We got up at 6 am and met with the Cycle Cotswolds (http://www.cyclecotswolds.co.uk/) owner who is also part of the Volunteer Inn staff. This made is so simple instead of having to go to a separate place for our bikes. They were plenty tall enough and similar to our bikes at home (hybrid mountain bikes). He sold us maps (I thought he would have more detailed ones, but no. I could have printed what was already on the internet since his were the same) and rented us a set of panniers. We were set.
The nice breakfast lady let us eat the cold food already out for the breakfast that started at 7:30 and even let us take some food for the road. We were out the door by 7 am and rode up the biggest hill first! My bike had real difficulty getting to the "1" on the left gear shift, so I had to get off the bike and walk it up half the hill. We took a slight detour off the normal route to go to the Broadway Tower - a medieval looking tower build by some rich guy in 1799. It is the second highest point in the Costwolds, and we biked up to it. We had to go on an "A" road to do it (the busier roads), but it was early enough in the morning that it did not have too many cars. The midst was still rising. I had read on Trip Advisor that even if the gate is closed, you can still walk in before the grounds open. So, we did, and we were treated to a nice view.
There looked like another way down on the map, but we could not be sure of the road and did not want to go down one from up there if it was the wrong one because we would have to climb back up if we were wrong! So, we took the way we came in, and the half mile on the "A" road was much busier by then but not so much so that it was scary.
After this, we got on the "B" road (less busy but sometimes very narrow for two way car traffic). We biked to see the lavender fields in full bloom. I smell people wearing lavender all over England, and it is lovely.
Then, we went up and down rolling hills to a big dip down into Bourton-on-the-Water. it is supposedly a touristy town, but we got there before the people flooded the park by the waterway. Lovely place. We ate the "reduced for quick sale" food we bought the previous night at the food co-op along the peaceful water. Awww.
After this, we took a detour off the way we came to go to Lower and Upper Slaughters. They are sleepy little hamlets in the Cotswolds. The chain came off my bike during the big climb out of the Lower Slaughter but George fixed it quickly.
We biked back on the "B" roads back to Chipping Campden. They were much busier with car traffic on the way back, and two cars came way too close for comfort. I don't think I would have wanted to bike for seven days in that!
The most thrilling thing was going DOWN the long, steep hill we came up out of Chipping Campden on! Overall, the ride was beautiful, especially in old lane where the trees from each side of the road had come together to form an arch over the roadway. That was something I wished I had filmed, but I had no pockets to keep my iPhone, and I didn't want to hold it the entire ride.
The weather was perfect - the hot days had passed, and it was mostly overcast and cool. We felt a few drops of rain but that was all.
I wanted to take a shower, but the Volunteer Inn had no hot water so it ended up being a very cold one. We dressed up again and went to the Eight Bells Inn that was recommended by Rick Steves'. That was a treat. I had their traditional Sunday Roast (these happen all over England) that was delish.
We stopped at another store and got ice cream and retired for the night. We had thought about enother sunset hike, but we were BUSHED from the bike.
I caught up my journaling on the blog through Day 7 since we had a free evening. Little did I know that would be the last time I would use my NEW computer that we got specifically for this trip because it is so light weight. OH WELL! First world problem!
Not much walking today other than in the towns we visited. But I would say 33 miles of biking up and down the Cotswold Hills was more than enough exercise for one day!