One lovely sunny day - there have been so many! - I decided to take a route along our local Wilts and Berks canal to go shopping in Wantage. The canal is being restored in places and is a lovely quiet route to walk or cycle. In the winter it's too muddy but at the moment it's perfect. The surface is reasonably good for my hybrid bike, though in dappled sunlight the tree roots can be hard to see. Before I start, here's an interesting thing; I realized when cycling along the Kennet and Avon canal a couple of years ago that I much prefer to cycle with a canal on my right - it feels slightly weird cycling with it on my left.
Back to the shopping trip. I got onto the tow path about 2 miles from home -
It's so lovely at this time of year. Who would want to drive along a road when you can walk or cycle along here?
Now I'm approaching Grove after about two miles on the canal. A few years ago this was just a field with a footpath across, which I used to enjoy walking. You can see a new housing estate on the left; they have at least done a reasonable job of landscaping the area, putting in trees and good paths. I don't know whether the paths are designated for walkers only but no-one has yet objected to me cycling on them. This is also part of what was once Grove Airfield, an important WW2 military air base, hence the aeroplane on a stick - that curved thing in the distance. Apparently it's a De Havilland Venom! (now I know...). There are some excellent photos of it here.
Here I am in the middle of Wantage, but still roughly following the route of the old canal. It's only in recent years that I have discovered just how many quiet paths there are between the houses in Wantage. There are quiet short cuts everywhere. In theory most of them are not for cyclists but I always give way to pedestrians and nobody seems to object to a cyclist being on them. Here the canal is just a ditch -
Now through a housing estate -
And here I am, after about 5 miles, finally back on the road and nearly at Sainsbury's, and even this road is much, much quieter than normal, due to lockdown.
Then through to the market place, which would normally be full of cars, both parked and moving. It does seem very strange once you get here, where most of the shops are shut - quite dead. There are not just few cars but very few people -
My bike was the only one parked here in my usual spot outside Waitrose (I truly do get a bit miffed if someone else parks there....) which is strange; we all know there are more people cycling at the moment and even the usual bikes aren't here.
Sneaking through a gap by the stile and back on to the old footpath near the aeroplane -
Now, after cycling round the edge of Grove Business Park, I'm heading across the old airfield. It was many years since I'd walked this path and I couldn't remember how rideable it was, but in my relaxed and exploratory mode I just thought - oh well, I can always turn round and go back.....
It turned out to be rideable all the way to this lane at East Challow. The photo below is of the site of what used to be a country club, and where I believe Elder Son wasted some of his youth. When I first came across the derelict buildings some years ago, and didn't know of this fact, I snooped around and came out with a haul of several beer glasses (some used by him perhaps) and a very nice stainless steel bucket, which we still have! This was also where a friend showed me Poplar Balsam; some time later when passing a wood close to home I realized from the remembered smell in my nostrils that it was growing there too.
Now past the church at the lovely village of West Challow. There is a stream that flows past the church wherein I once dipped my feet on a very hot day, after a day's riding. Nothing like it....
And now back up the bridlepath to Childrey, and then a short distance on quiet back roads home.
How many people's shopping journeys are like that? Just had a thought - I wonder if Husband would let me use his Go-Pro to film it? If I could manage the technology.....