Thursday, 16 August 2012

The Handsome Hanson Way.

I've been back in Oxfordshire for a couple of days enjoying what's left of the Summer break before heading back to St Mary's and as the weather was onside I spent most of the afternoon exploring the Hanson Way which runs between steam trains in Didcot and the city of Dreaming Spires.

It's one of the many routes on the Sustrans National Cycle Network, an organisation which gently, over the past couple of decades has created a wonderful collection of cycle paths across the UK, encouraging commuters and families back onto their bikes for work and leisure.

Oxfordshire, it a bit of a plateau. The Ridgeway lies South and the Chilterns to the East, but in the main it's perfect biking country.

The route from Didcot, cuts through Sutton Courtney and took me up the charmingly named Peep O Day Lane, through Abingdon Marina and into St Helen' heads out towards thes before heading out through Abbey Gardens, across the river just above the weir and away across the fields to Radley.

On turning out of the village I got stuck on the main road, but only for a couple of miles before the route turns down a side track and cuts along parallel with the railway line on one side and the  sparkling Thames on the other, past the fishermen looking for pike by Sandford lock and on to Ifley, with it's ancient Norman church. There's a sense that Oxford is near at hand.

The last few miles are lovely, under Donnington Bridge, and then up past the University boathouses before finally emerging at the Head of the River, St Aldgates and Christchurch Meadow.

The whole trip took about an hour but sitting in the late afternoon sun with a welcome beer and the day trippers boarding Salters ferry for a leisurely cruise back to Abingdon it felt good to have taken the effort to enjoy such a picturesque route into town.

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