Ettington to Milton Keynes: Stunning villages and a Corinthian Arch

56 miles (Total 98 Miles)

Today started with a trip in car to Halfords courtesy of the wonderful Sarah. It was great to catch up up with her and there were no limits to her hospitality. Duly equipped with new inner tubes and puncture repair kits we returned, breakfasted and were on the road by 10.30 or so.

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The initial route took us up the Fosse Way which was straight but of course was hilly because this Roman Road did nothing as wimpy as go around hills. We turned off to the east and then went through a series of stunningly beautiful villages such as Combrook, Kineton and Fenny Compton. The buildings have a common stone appearance which is not unlike the Cotswolds but is slightly darker in tone. The sun was shining, the bikes were all working well and we ambled along at a decent pace.

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At Wormleighton we came across a stunning old Manor House and then ambled down to Chipping Warden (which sounds like a made up name from PG Wodehouse but actually exists). We thought about visiting a National Trust property, Edcote House, but were put off by locals who said it was closed. So we went to a pub for lunch instead!

Not the greatest lunch but sustenance for the next stage. The landlady said – knowingly that “You don’t want to eat too much when you’re cycling” and then confessed she had not been on a bike for 20 years and wondered about our sanity for cycling as far as Milton Keynes. To be fair, she did not look the typical girth of a racing cyclist. We kindly declined her advice and ate well and then got back on the bikes.

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More ambling through beautiful villages of Southern Northamptonshire and into Buckinghamshire. The high point of the day may have been the entirely pointless but impressive Corinthian Arch at Stowe (as in the school) just north of Buckingham, It was a wonderful but useless piece of architecture, now owned by the National Trust. Being the National Trust there was, of course, a tea room. By this stage the clouds had closed in and there was a danger of rain. So tea was taken. I went to the NT shop to get something for Mia, the daughter of the friends we were staying with. Disappointingly there was no 3 year olds guide to building your own Corinthian Arch, but a jolly book on outside activities for children was a good substitute.

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Then, dodging the rain clouds (which never dumped on us) we did the last 15 miles to Milton Keynes, with beautiful countryside right up to the outskirts of the town and not a concrete cow in sight.

Jaz and Ami were wonderful hosts and Mia is both a delight and already very funny (aged 3). A lovely evening and to bed by 9 – making up for the excesses of last night. Another lovely day and one to remember how stunning this part of England really is.

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