Another lovely morning. Atherstone showed me a prettier side than the Hight Sreet had suggested last night. I left the town via station road, heading south west through winding country lanes. One of the great joys of having a general heading, rather than a specific destination in mind, is the luxury of choosing the roads based on attributes other than their directness. I could indulge myself only so far though, beacuse I was aiming for the green at Meriden and the obelisk erected to mark the town as the centre of England.
Accomepanying the obelisk on the green are two cycling memorials. One to Wayfairer W.M. Robinson, whose “devotion to the passtime of cycling encouraged many to enjoy the countryside and the open road.” And another, dedicated to the cyclists fallen in the world wars and other conflicts. I doffed my helmet.
Right in the heart of the Midlands and Sustrans have been at it again. Five miles down the road from Meriden, there’s an entrance to the Kenilworth Greenway, part of national cycle route 52, which gave me a smooth, level, peaceful and quick three miles into Kenilworth.
Route 52 followed the main roads to the outskirts of Warwick where I dropped onto the canal towpath for a leisurely, waterside bimble.
Royal Leamington Spa is an impressive town. Set out around the river, its parks, wide avenues and grand Georgian, low-rise buildings give it a feeling of space and comfort, like an outsized village communing around its green.
Lunch at the splendid Coffee Bean café, then on through Bishops Itchington, Fenny Compton and other wonderfully-named villages.
Banbury is bigger than I expected. It combines the sandstone prettiness of Oxfordshire with the demands of modern commerce sometimes uncomfortably.
Coffe and the best fruit cake of the trip so far at Cafe Veneto on High Street and with 50 miles done, I booked accommodation another 13 miles away.
If I had been in any doubt that I was in Oxfordshire, that vanished as I passed through the natrow lanes linking its golden villages. A lovely evening for cycling and there were many others out. I reached the White Hart at Duns Tew.
63 miles; 3,159ft of hills