This is a great circular ride for cyclists who are happy with a couple of steeper (up and down) sections. It’s a good choice for older children and teenagers who are confident cycling on quiet roads.
Didcot to Chilton
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 Track, a few metres to the left of the George and Dragon pub.
Cycle up this track. It’s the first uphill section of the day but thankfully quite short. Once the hard effort is over, continue on along the track until you reach a byway on your right.
Chilton to the Ridgeway
Turn right onto the byway and follow it into Chilton village. Turn left at the junction with Limetrees and then right into Townsend. This meets the main road; turn left and then left again at the first roundabout. Follow Lower Road towards the village but when it bends sharply left turn right and follow the track down to the A34 underpass. Continue up to the road junction and then turn left onto the long road beside Chilton Primary School.
Alternative option: if you are a confident road cyclist you might want to turn right at the roundabout onto the A4185, cross the A34 and then follow the signs to Chilton Primary School.
This long road, Newbury Road, eventually leads you up onto the Ridgeway. Before then you’ll pass allotments, stables and fields of sheep. The road surface deteriorates as you get nearer the end and finally ends up as a rutted chalk track. We spotted a hare in the fields to the left of here so keep an eye out.
The second uphill section is steeper than the last one. I always walk it as I like to look at the flowers and butterflies that adorn this section of chalk path. Nothing to do with me not being the fittest of cyclists!
Along the Ridgeway
Once on the Ridgeway turn right and cycle towards the car park at East Hendred.
The woods around Scutchamer Knob, just pass the car park, are a good picnic spot. Do watch out though as not everyone takes their litter home.
Continue on along the Ridgeway, towards Wantage. Ignore two bridleways that turn off to the right. Take the third bridleway turning, shortly after some woods.
Down to Lockinge
This is a steep downhill cycle. It can be quite an exhilarating ride down this section but do watch out for walkers or horse riders.
The path soon straightens out and eventually meets the road near Lockinge. Turn right on the road to pick up Sustrans route 544.
Sustrans route 544
Follow the road into West Ginge, past racing stables. When the road bends sharp left at East Ginge turn right, following the signposts for route 544.
At the end of the track turn left onto the road towards East Hendred. Just before reaching the village the cycle path turns right along a tree lined track. Follow this towards Harwell; you’ll need to follow a temporary diversion onto Harwell Campus when you reach the end.
Harwell to Didcot
The route brings you to traffic lights on the A4185, where you have a couple of alternatives.
Main route (shown in map below): cross at the traffic lights and turn left for around 100 metres. Take the right hand turning down the Winaway into Harwell. Follow the main road back through Harwell and into Didcot. Cycle along Wantage Road, and then turn right at the Georgetown roundabout. Follow Park Road, then left down Queensway. At the second roundabout turn right into Green Close, to return to your original starting point. This option is almost all on road, with the exception of the Winaway.
Alternative option: cross at the traffic lights and follow the signposted Sustrans route directly across the field opposite. This brings you out on Hagbourne Hill; cross the road carefully and cycle down Chilton Road to Upton. From here you can pick up the railway embankment back to Didcot. This route is almost all off road except the stretch down Chilton Road.
Click on the image to view a larger version. Please use this as an outline map only; I recommend using the OS Explorer map 170 of Abingdon and Didcot.
Start and end point: Old railway embankment, near Green Close, Didcot.
Distance: Approximately 26 km (16 miles).
Total ascent: 227 metres. There is a relatively steep ascent onto and off of the Ridgeway.
Terrain: Approximately one third of the route is on reasonably quiet roads (busiest within Didcot). The remainder is either on dedicated cycle tracks, bridlepaths or along the Ridgeway. This can be very muddy during the winter!