RR. National Cycle Route 4

RR. National Cycle Route 4

Post by Sarah Mille » Tue, 30 May 2000 04:00:00

Bank Holiday Monday  today, so as neither Paul or I were at work ( gasps
of shock from those who know me) We went out for a little ride on the
Cokers, we  followed the NCN route 4 from Reading to Egham with a lunch
stop at Windsor.
The National Cycle Network ( NCN ) is a web of traffic free or quiet
routes across the UK, there are major and minor routes. The C2C is a major
route as is NCN4 which we were on today, minor routes might  link a houseing
 estate to a town centre or school. Dotted around the network there are
sculptures and mileposts , so far there at least 3000 miles of the NCN in
use and  by 2005 there should be 8000 miles. Riding surfaces vary, in
therory the whole lot should be rideable on a touring bike so either
tarmac or  hardpack, in practise some parts are still little more than
muddy ruts while others are beautiful smooth tracks and  roads. It pays to
expect a bit of mud and rough stuff  outside the towns.

We started off  on the Thames tow-path again for a mile or two before NCN4
left the  bankside and  took us through a busniess park to a cycle path
along side the A4, we bowled along this to Wargrave coping with the odd
trench dug in the pavement for cable laying by riding on the verge for a
bit. At wargrave we were directed  onto an un-made road littered with
puddles taking us up hill and to residential estates. On the other side of
town we  started to climb again on small country lane to the days high
spot at Knowle Hill. From the top of this  pimple of a hill our ride was
down a muddy track, slick with clay and  cluttered with puddles. At the
bottom of the track we met some people filling in some of the  big
pot-holes with salvaged bricks and rocks, I suspect they were locals fed
up with  loseing cars and small children in them.

Crossing the A4 we tried to find some more route marker signs as we
skirted round a village and headed for Maidenhead. We didn't find  many of
them and twice ended up in places we didn't ought to have been, this NCN
route is still in an Interim State with some  route changes  expected as
acess agreements are finalised, oops, still we kept off the main road
which I was pleased about. In Maidenhead town there were no shortage of
NCN signs, a glut after a famine. We followed the path through housing
estates and rec grounds, stopped to admire Floras garden and Drinking
fountain which has Bike racks as part of its decorative iron work. Briefly
back to a road to get past the centre of town and then we plunged into a
green tunnel though woodland, paths and tracks well sign posted by the
local council for dog walkers and cyclists alike.

Beyond the wood was Bray, a pretty little village with terrible sign
posting, we overshot our turn and had to go back and look for it. Back in
the quiet lanes we  met a chap  with a hand cranked cycle, he had one
wheel too. The cycle was an attachment to  slot onto a wheelchair, turning
it into a trike of sorts, a rare  meeting of one wheelers. the next few
miles were unremarkable,  quiet road and a bit more muddy river bank. We
edged round Eton Colege and  it started to rain as we crossed the open
expanse of common land at Dorney. Heading back once again to the River
Thames we managed to miss a sign post and rode into Windsor on the
tow-path rather than the road we should have used, oops.

Lunch at the Royal Oak, OK food but a tad pricey, still its Tourist town
what did we expect, the pub nestled under the Castle Walls and the sun
came out. Feeling OK in legs and mind we chose to extend our ride to Egham
another 8 or 9 miles along NCN4 and saddled up and rode out of town. Why
do ***age boys insist that "doing a wheelie" on their mountain bikes is
the same as unicycling...if we'd been in the mood for  a giggle I might
have  offered to swap with one of them, but I wasn't and they were just
being mouthy little sh*ts, the only negative comments we  received all
trip I think.

Between Winsor and Egham the NCN4 crosses Windsor Great Park - the Queens
back garden - and Runnymead park - famous for the magna carta being signed
there - so its a mix of private roads  in beautiful nick and  rather less
cared for tracks. The Great park had no signage at all , maybe the queen
doesn't like it, but we bowled through relying on the map. At Runnymead we
paused for a short while at the Airforce memorial, a cloister and chapel
of rememberance for all the Commonwealth Airmen killed and  never found
during the second world war. A sombre place , calm and peaceful perched
on the crest of a hill looking over the landscape as those men must have
done in their planes.

From here it was all down hill to Egham, in both senses , the track was
steep, wet  and lumpy, at points un-rideable on the Cokers, might have
been fun on Munis but we weren't. Egham is an unlovely town which we were
pleased to ignore and headed straight for the station and a train home.

estimated distance, 35  miles. Forgot to time it too.
But not a bad ride for a bank holiday.

Sarah