Cycle from Windsor on the western outskirts of London to the Ridgeway with this route. Much of the route is quiet some is off-road and a little is quite busy. It is suitable for all types of bike that can handle british bridleways. This route forms part of the the Lowestoft to Lands End coast-to-coast route, Englands most Easterly and Westerly mainland points, nicknamed #LowLE. It is an adventure bike ride off-road through some of England’s finest places. We rode this section in a day. Given how built-up this part of the Thames Valley is I wasn’t sure what to expect. We found it is surprisingly quiet and used the sections in the centre of Reading and Maidenhead to top-up on supplies.
Windsor to Streatley, 65km 960m ascent
Before leaving Windsor the changing of the guard is a must see event in the summer. The route out along National Cycle Route 4, offers an incredible view back towards the castle over fields. Completely unexpected so close to Heathrow airport and the M25. Continue on NCR4 past the Olympic rowing lake at Eton Dorney skirting Maidenhead and into Reading. We were forced to go into Maidenhead at the cycle route was closed due to some major engineering work. No diversion was marked for cyclists so satnav is a God-send. It can get a little built up but it is a remarkably green route in parts, for example the steep climb long Knowl Hill bridleway that helped rack-up nearly 1000m of ascent.
From Reading (pronounced Red-ing) NCR5 strikes north uphill away from the Thames. The route turns to Hook End just north of Nipper’s Grove wood, through Woodcote with a fast descent along Elvendon Lane & Battle Road into Goring-on-Thames. Then its a short hop across the river Thames to the Youth Hostel at Streatley, close to the start of the Ridgeway.
Route options to get the Ridgeway in Streatley
There are some options to get to the Ridgeway. To avoid Reading head for Henley-on-Thames via Crazies Hill after the Knowl Hill climb. It certainly looks like there are bridleways into and out of Henley, but it is a little less clear how to avoid some busy roads in the area. We played safe relying on the NCR route for a reasonable compromise. Another option which includes Reading and is mapped by the new King Alfred Way route sticks close to the Thames through Mapledurham picking up some good stretches of bridleway. Being close to the river this looks like a good dry option but the high route might be preferable if it has been wet recently.