The Bell Inn at Aldworth is one of my favourite pubs in the area. This out and back cycle ride is mostly off road, with just a few short stretches of quiet country roads.
Didcot to Chilton
As with so many local cycle routes, start by cycling along the old railway embankment between Didcot and Upton. This is a busy route so ride carefully past walkers and joggers.
Leave the old railway at Upton and follow the gravel track into the village. Turn right onto Fieldside, then left on to Prospect Road (opposite the village hall and park). Carefully cross London Road and take the bridleway, Lynch Way, a few metres to the left of the George and Dragon pub. Cycle up this track.
Chilton to Churn
The Lynch Way provides the first uphill challenge of the route. Follow it up and continue straight over the crossroads at the top (ignore the right turn to Chilton). At the fork, turn left and follow the bridleway through Prospect Farm farmyard – watch out for the roving chickens! Turn right and cycle along the track as it re-crosses the old railway. On your right hand side is Collard Environmental; if you cycle this route on weekdays be aware you may be sharing it with waste disposal and skip lorries.
At the T-junction turn left and cycle along the track all the way to Churn. The track turns sharp left, back over the railway bridge. Turn right, following the track past the house and barn along a concrete road.
The area around Churn may seem isolated, but over a century ago it was the site of a tented summer camp for the armed forces who carried out manoeuvres on the Downs. More recently it was used as a rifle range; records show both the US Army and the Home Guard used the Churn Ranges in World War II.
Churn to the Ridgeway
The road leads to a remote property but you should follow the bridleway straight on (to the right of the house), across a slightly bumpy field. You’ll pass racehorse gallops on your left; depending on the time of day you may meet some of the local racehorses.
Just past the gallops, turn left briefly then pick up the signposted track to the Ridgeway (which curves off to the right). The route from now on is rather more bumpy with several short hill sections to conquer.
Continue following the Ridgeway, going straight over at the next junction (ignore paths to your left and right). There’s a good grassy area to stop just here if you are in need of a rest.
Ridgeway to Aldworth
Cycle through the next crossroads too, to reach a Y junction. The Ridgeway continues on the left, but you should take the right path. This leads on to a quiet road, past Starveall Cottage, and on along Starveall Road towards Aldworth. This turns into Ambury Road, which you follow all the way into the village, where you’ll find the pub on your left hand side.
The Bell Inn, Aldworth
This historic pub has been owned and run by the same family since the 18th century. The pub interior is tiny but the garden (and in 2021, the field extension) have plenty of space for the walkers and cyclists who converge on it at lunchtimes (except Monday, when it’s closed).
Most visitors opt for the legendary filled rolls. Whilst the set-up has changed slightly to accommodate Covid restrictions, you can still be assured that your cheese roll will come with much more cheese than bread!
The return route
For ease of route finding, we usually cycle home the same route. There are a number of alternative options. For example, turning off at Churn and cycling the road/bridleway back down to Upton. Confident road cyclists could cycle from Aldworth into Streatley and return via the A417 to Blewbury but this is a main road with fast traffic.
Click on the image to view a larger version. Please use this as an outline map only. The relevant OS map is OS Explorer 170: Abingdon, Wantage and Vale of White Horse.
Start and end point: Old railway embankment, near Green Close, Didcot. Grid reference: SU525888. What3words: centrally.noble.such
Distance: The return journey is approximately 29 km (18 miles).
Terrain: Mostly off road either along dedicated cycle tracks, the Ridgeway or bridleways across farmland. During wet periods the chalk Ridgeway can get quite slippy. The road into Aldworth is a quiet country lane, minimally used by cars.
GPX file: As requested by an In Didcot blog reader, I have created a GPX file of the route. However, I’ve subsequently discovered I am unable to upload these to my blog! If you’d like a copy, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, requesting the “Didcot to Aldworth cycle route”.