Cycle rides around Didcot: circular route via Long Wittenham, Dorchester and Shillingford

This is a great bike ride from Didcot if you live on the Ladygrove estate as it’s primarily car free or on relatively quiet roads. It’s also easy to adapt; cycle the whole route or turn back at Wittenham or Dorchester if you prefer.

Didcot to Long Wittenham

From Didcot Railway Station cycle towards the town centre on the signposted route, National Route 5. You’ll be following this route all the way to Little Wittenham, so watch out for the waymarkers.

Ladygrove pylons, Didcot
Ladygrove pylons, Didcot

Turn left under Cow Bridge Lane (walk under the bridge), cross the road and follow the path straight ahead beside the park and towards the shops. Cross the road beside the playground, cycle straight on and then turn left by Ladygrove Lakes. Follow the track, crossing another road, until you reach the T junction by the railway line. Here you turn right; you’ll now continue along this track all the way into Long Wittenham.

Tunnel under Didcot ring road
Tunnel under Didcot ring road

There are a couple of spots to keep an eye out for. Firstly the tunnel under the ring road is dark and quite bumpy. Your eyes only just have time to adjust to the darkness and then you’re back out into the bright light. However once out the other side you feel like you’re immediately in the countryside.

A little further on you’ll cross the main road between Didcot and Appleford. There are barriers to stop you cycling out into the road but do cross carefully as cars travel very fast along here.

Long Wittenham to Dorchester

The cycle track brings you out into Long Wittenham, near the Pendon Museum. This is a model railway museum which is open from 11 am at weekends and on some days in the school holidays. It’s a long time since I’ve visited but if you’re a railway buff why not pop in? Alternatively, cycle just a little further and stop at The Plough Inn (this is actually a great short cycle ride from Didcot, return via the same route).

Assuming you haven’t got sidetracked at the pub, cycle along the main road, over the bumps, through Long Wittenham until you reach the sharp bend at the end. Turn right, past the Sylva Wood Centre, and follow the road past Neptune Wood, eventually ending at a T junction in Little Wittenham. This road doesn’t see too much traffic but I’d imagine it’s busier at the weekends as it’s one of the main routes to Wittenham Clumps.

Road between Long Wittenham and Little Wittenham
Road between Long Wittenham and Little Wittenham

At Little Wittenham turn left and cycle through the village, pass the church and take the bridge over the River Thames.  After you’ve crossed the river, follow the path through the middle of the field and on towards Dorchester. Take the first left bridleway (signposted) into Dorchester-on-Thames. I’ve written more about this stretch in my walk to Dorchester-on-Thames blog post.

Dorchester to Shillingford

Dorchester is an excellent place for a break with pubs, a tea room (sometimes two) and a shop to pick up provisions. We stopped for an early lunch at Lily’s Tea Room (closed Tuesday, but otherwise open 10am-5pm). Lemon meringue pie lovers are in for a treat!

Bridleway between Dorchester and Warborough
Bridleway between Dorchester and Warborough

If you haven’t explored the village before I recommend a visit to Dorchester Abbey and museum (open summer afternoons, except Monday and Tuesday). The tea room also had a free walking trail leaflet outlining the key buildings and history of the village.

After you’ve finished in Dorchester follow the road which heads out towards Shillingford (at the Abbey end of village). Cross the bridge over the river and turn left shortly afterwards. Follow this road to the houses at the end and then pick up the bridleway. This runs alongside the river and crosses under the A4074 (sadly scarred by litter, presumably thrown out of cars). Just before the river bends left, take the right hand bridleway, along Priests’ Moor Lane, into Warborough.

War memorial, Warborough
War memorial, Warborough

Follow the main road through the village, perhaps stopping off at the Six Bells in Warborough. If you’re a Midsomer Murders fan you might recognise the pub; it has appeared in several episodes under a variety of names. As has Warborough, which is not surprising as (off of the main road) it’s the quintessential chocolate box village with a large green, cricket pavilion and church.

Shillingford Bridge
Shillingford Bridge

We made a mistake in Warborough as I had assumed the short section on the Thames Path would be open to cyclists. It’s not! Therefore, unless you plan to walk and push your bike, I suggest staying on the main road (A329) through the village all the way until it meets the roundabout with the A4074. Go straight over here and continue until you reach Shillingford Bridge. Rest awhile on the bridge and check out the boats on the Thames.

Shillingford to Little Wittenham

On the far side of the bridge turn right at Shillingford Bridge Hotel. It’s a long time since I was last here and I was a little disappointed that the swimming pool in the hotel grounds looked so unloved!

Follow the road, and then the bridleway, bypassing North Farm, and eventually into Little Wittenham Wood. Although this route doesn’t visit Wittenham Clumps I’m sure many of you will have walked through this section of woodland on a Sunday afternoon walk around the clumps. If you’re riding along here in winter be aware this stretch is likely to be muddy.

Little Wittenham to Didcot

Once back at Little Wittenham it’s a case of retracing the route you cycled earlier in the day. Turn left from the Clumps exit, then right on the road out towards Long Wittenham, and left again once you reach the village. Pass the pub and museum once more and pick up the cycle path back to Didcot.

National Cycle Route 5, Long Wittenham to Didcot
National Cycle Route 5, Long Wittenham to Didcot

The return route provides some fine views of Didcot power station, at least for a short while longer. The grass cutter had been busy between our trips, which was fortunate as it was very overgrown with stinging nettles on the outward route. Whilst I’m in favour of leaving verges to grow long I don’t like getting stung!

Once under the ring road bridge make your way back to the starting point. I hope you’ve enjoyed this route, do let me know if you cycle it.

Route information

Outline route of Didcot to Warborough cycle route
Outline route of Didcot to Warborough cycle route

Although an outline map is shown above I highly recommend plotting your route in advance on OS Explorer Map 170 (or alternative online option).

Start and end point: nominally Didcot Railway Station. However if you live on Ladygrove pick up the route there.

Distance: approximately 26 km, 16 miles.

Terrain: tarmac off road cycle route between Didcot and Long Wittenham, quiet road between Little and Long Wittenham, busier road in Warborough and Dorchester villages, remainder mostly bridlepaths. I used my hybrid bike which coped well on all surfaces.

Refreshments: tea room and pubs in Dorchester, pubs in Long Wittenham and Warborough, hotel in Shillingford.

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