CYCLING IN THE COTSWOLDS
Author: Chiz Dakin
Softback, 202 pages, including maps
Chiz Dakin wrote the Cicerone guide to Cycling in the Peak District. This guide is very much in the same vein, strongly emphasising getting off the beaten track and seeking out the quiet countryside that can be found even in an area full of tourist honey-pots.
The cover image shows a ford that I know well. A friend of mine, showing off to his children, found the road surface more slippery than expected and skidded with an inglorious splash.
The bicycle shown is a mountain bike. Chiz recommends a mountain bike, a hybrid or a “sturdy” bike – diversions are shown for purely road riding – during dry weather, but a mountain bike for following wet weather. The reason for this preference says a lot about the route selection; “ …. you’ll have more fun …. and be able to explore quieter trails and tracks ….” This points the book in the correct direction up the right street.
The interpretation of “Cotswold” is a broad one. Routes are based on some familiar Cotswold towns; Stow on the Wold, Bourton on the Water and Moreton in the Marsh. However, quite justifiably,
Reviewed by KJT
Shipston on Stour and Stratford on Avon (this route visits the lovely Hidcote Manor – definitely in the Cotswolds), in the north, the River Severn’s floodplain, in the west and Bradford-on- Avon, in the south, are included. The latter route takes in the centre of Bath and goes via the “two tunnels” making it the only tour that takes in a significantly urban area. This broad view gives a very wide range of rides and will take the cyclist to places that they may not expect to visit on a “Cotswold“ tour.
A final section describes a grand tour of the Cotswolds. This very much focusses on the heartland of the Cotswold Hills.
The day routes are intended to cover a half-day of cycling, so there is plenty of time to relax, explore and enjoy the scenery. Truth is, as the author points out, there are so many variables in the routes and beyond these no account can be taken of the attitude of the cyclist, be they ambler or speedster or somewhere between the two. I like this slightly casual approach.
That isn’t to say that the ups and downs can be taken lightly. Where ere one bikes in this area on will find ascents and descents which may test. Add into this off-road sections and the attention drawn to tricky sections is very helpful. Please do not let this put you off. There is nothing to take fright at.
This is definitely one for the cyclist who likes to take some time to seek out the quiet ways. In the usual Cicerone style it will fit in the jersey pocket and take you through one of England’s most beautiful landscapes.
REVIEW FIRST PUBLISHED OCTOBER 2014