Ride Level: Blue - Intermediate
Gravel/CX MTB | GPX Route | MInor roads, Gravel and Single Track | 133 km/83 miles
An excellent gravel romp through the smarter parts of the Home Counties along the Thames Valley connecting London with Oxford via Windsor. A ride of contrasts, the grim backs of redundant factories backing upon the Grand Union Canal or stopping for a quick break in the quaint medieval streets of Dorchester.
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Starting at Clapham Junction the route follows the Thames towpath to Kew where it crosses the river to pick up Grand Union Canal at Brentford. The canal effortlessly winds through the apparently endless swathes of suburbia, until reaching the Colne river.
Did you know there’s a nature reserve under the M4/M25 junction? - neither did I, the area’s reassuringly scruffy, as you ride into Colnbrook, fascinating, look left, and there amidst a scrap yard is a forlorn mill dating from the 1600s. The High Street is, of course, the old Bath road, so this tatty village at the end of Heathrow’s runway has 2 magnificent coaching inns, the Ostrich is said to be the oldest pub in England. Stop in and ask about the grim stories of previous guests being boiled alive!
On, on past, Slough, which isn’t as bad as Betjemen portrays, cross the playing fields of Eton and Windsor Castle hoves into view with a chance to wave at the King. This part of the ride continues to be flat as the route follows NCR4 around Dorney Lake, the site of the 2012 Olympic rowing events.
From Bray the route follows a network of wide sweeping gravel paths, making for some fast exhilarating gravel riding as you make your way to cross the Thames on the picturesque bridges at Sonning.
You reach the first real climb at mile 48 as the path climbs over the rump of the Chilterns to briefly join the Ridgeway near Watlington. From here it’s gentle riding aside fields back into the Thames Valley to re the river ( for a quick swim) south of Oxford.
Start and End Points
Start: Clapham Junction
Finish: All SDouls Library - Oxford
- Distance: 133 km | 83 miles
- Climb: 715 m | 2300 ft
- Percentage off-road: 60%
- Trail surface: Natural | Gravel | Cycle Paths | Single Track
- Technical Grade: Blue - Intermediate
- Mudometer - Difficult, stretches aside ploughed fields - definitely a dry Summer ride.
Places to Visit
27 miles: Windsor Castle
Is this ride for me?
Ideal for riders with decent off-road experience and reasonable fitness.
Is my bike OK for this ride?
The route is best completed on the gravel/CX bike or a mountain bike.