LS05 / Aylesbury Vale

120km four county tour

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The Vale of Aylesbury stretches from the Chilterns in the South to the Cotswolds in the North. If you know where to look it’s possible find ammonites on the surface of the fields, in the troughs of the gentle rolls of land that sculpt the scenery. The ancient ocean that left these behind is long since forgotten, but the ripples of the ocean bed remain, never flat, always rising or ebbing and always sapping the legs.

Venturing out of the Chiltern town of Berkhamsted the route climbs over the edge of the Chilterns at Ashridge and down on to the plain, bisecting the escarpment at Ivinghoe Beacon. Ivinghoe Aston marks the edge of the hills and the rest of the ride is in the lanes and through the ungraded rollers. Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Oxfordshire and Hertfordshire villages and the long forgotten linking roads are the grist of the route. At Winslow, but within the speed restriction, the route trespasses on to the main road, although for no more than 300 metres.

The feeling of Flanders is within this route, the open field tops, the empty lanes, and the short twisting rises through countless villages.

Skirting Milton Keynes and Buckingham the road turns for home at Stratton Audley, just outside Bicester. The homeward section runs down towards Aylesbury, taking in, for those of you who are racers, a stretch of the Spring Chicken, and the old Aylesbury RR circuits. So close to so many centres of population this route is a hymn to the unadventurous town dwellers who encircle it, yet rarely trespass upon it.

Being the heart of England the route is littered with pubs, but seclusion and serenity are the watchwords of this route, and although coffee shops may be found in Wingrave and Winslow, a detour to Stewkley or Swanborne may provide less busy refreshments, there is an excellent tea shop on the green in Quainton. Were you to harden your hearts against interruption, this is a satisfying non stop tour starting within a 40 minute train ride from Euston.

The return to the Chilterns is friendly, cutting up through the Grand Union feeder reservoirs at Tring, avoiding hard climbing, and cutting through Cowroast, home.