A Cycling Trip Through England's Cotswold District

Day 1

Saturday, May 27, 2000

Heathrow to Kiln Green
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We arrived at Heathrow airport at 7:00AM on May 27. We had initially planned on taking the underground to Paddington Station and then take a train to Oxford. An Underground restriction on toting bicycles eliminated this option. We had two other options, a cab to Paddington Station or a cab to a friend's house in Egham near Heathrow. Subsequently, we found out that bicycles are allowed on the Heathrow Express trains in limited numbers (no more than three during busy times) however, even the train personnel did not seem to know about this.

We called our friends, Sharon and Ray, in Egham and they graciously encouraged us to come to their house and start our cycling trip from Egham. A good plan, visit with Sharon and Ray and then cycle to Oxford instead of taking the train.

We hailed a cab. "You want to go where? With two bikes? Will this be a cash fare?" Tom hesitatingly replied, "yes." "50 quid" was the response. We couldn't believe our luck! Only five minutes out of the Heathrow Airport, and our first chance to get ripped off! The hack driver's response was that it would take him out of the cue, and nothing less would be worth his while. Besides, nobody else was going to do it. We were somewhat distressed at the prospect of spending the equivalent of $115 Canadian (at the time) to travel less than 10 kilometers to Egham. Cycling to Egham would have been easy, except we did not have a detailed map of the area, so had no idea how to get to there. And we were also very hesitant about cycling out of the airport. So we agreed to the rip-off and were in Egham at Sharon and Ray's house within 30 minutes.

Sharon and Ray had recently moved from our hometown of London, Ontario to England. They were members of our local cycling club and so it was very exciting to reconnect with them and to catch up our their new experiences in England. After coffee and gossip we donned our cycling gear, assembled our bikes, loaded our panniers and the four of us headed off to Windsor.

We connected to a cycling route from London to Oxford and soon entered the gated Windsor Great Park. This large park houses both the Queen Mother's residence and Windsor Castle. Enroute we passed a very impressive tree lined promenade that extended for a mile through the park towards Windsor Castle.

We cycled west out of Eton, through Eton Wick and joined the A4 east of Maidenhead. Billowing clouds grew dark and drizzle soon accompanied us to Maidenhead. Drizzle strengthened to rain and by the time we arrived in Maidenhead to hail. We waited for two brief hailstorms to pass, then headed on the A4 towards Reading. We encountered very heavy traffic on the narrow A4. The roads were in very good condition, but there was no shoulder on the A4. The terrain for the better part of the day was what I would call gently rolling with no major hills. Heavy rain soon returned and did not abate. After parking under a tree for some shelter from the driving rain, we weighed our options. Two very wet and cold cyclists determined that Oxford was not in our reach today.

Ray, Sharon and Tom

We cycled west out of Eton, through Eton Wick and joined the A4 east of Maidenhead. Billowing clouds grew dark and drizzle soon accompanied us to Maidenhead. Drizzle strengthened to rain and by the time we arrived in Maidenhead to hail. We waited for two brief hailstorms to pass, then headed on the A4 towards Reading. We encountered very heavy traffic on the narrow A4. The roads were in very good condition, but there was no shoulder on the A4. The terrain for the better part of the day was what I would call gently rolling with no major hills. Heavy rain soon returned and did not abate. After parking under a tree for some shelter from the driving rain, we weighed our options. Two very wet and cold cyclists determined that Oxford was not in our reach today.


Windsor Castle



The Old Devil Inn - just across the road from our B & B - how convenient!

We turned off at the next road into the town of Twyford. Here we stopped at a very proper Bed and Breakfast. A nice looking gentleman answered our knock at the door only to inform us that there was no room at the inn (I think his reaction might have had something to do with our overly wet demeanor). In any case, a quick call to another B & B secured us accomodation for the night.

After backtracking for 5 kilometers to arrive at Kiln Green we were greeted by Mary Berry and her dog, Charlie. Once dried out, somewhat to our surprise, Mary asked us to accompany her to The Old Devil Inn, a local pub located just across the street. Once there, Mary and Charlie joined two other B&B patrons. Kevin and I ordered some beers and proceeded to have a great time chatting with Mary and her two mates. More beers followed, but we were no match for Mary's gin and tonics and her mates' multiple rounds of Tangle Foot beer. With a few suds, some fish and chips, and very little sleep on the previous night's flight and the effects of jet lag taking hold, we retired early.


The bartenders at the Old Devil. The young lass on the left is from Winnipeg, Canada.

Distance: 43 K, Riding time: 2:23, Average Speed: 18.1 kph

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