Category Archives: Gromils

Ten Weeks After

Looks as though we’re keeping right up with government policy, with groups allowed to meet from next Monday. The plan is for those who want to buy coffee from the Stoke Row Village Shop and take it across the road to the Maharajah’s Well, where there are benches for suitable social distancing. Suggested target time is 10:15 – 10:30.

The ride turns off at the bottom of Witheridge Hill to take a mixture of bridleways and tarmac farm roads to Nettlebed. Beyond Nettlebed there is a restricted byway parallel to the B481 that is quite narrow, twisty and bumpy, but not as bumpy as the bridleway through the Swyncombe Estate. Both these off-road segments can be avoided by taking the B481.

Feel free to take a break for home once you know where you are if you want a shorter ride, or extend the ride through Wallingford and beyond if you want a longer one.

Nine Hills Results

Not being available to do the ride on Bank Holiday Monday, I did a version of it a day earlier.

I followed the route as far as the top of Burnt Hill, where I diverted to Hampstead Norreys and had my first coffee since before Lockdown. The lady who served me told me very firmly but politely that it was takeway only- I wasn’t even allowed to sit at a picnic table in the courtyard. So social distancing in the churchyard it was then.

I enjoyed Neville’s Easter Eggs, and even felt motivated to document some of them.


A magical ride over the Downs, a struggle up Streatley Hill but after Rotten Row I was flying.
– Isn’t that cheating? [Mick]


Headed out with Breeda at 6.30 am. Fine sunny ride to Stanford Dingley Some navigational difficulties there when we inadvertently climbed up to Chapel Row before we realised our mistake and turned back.


Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun! Met Ron outside Rotten Row and went as far as Upper Basildon with him.


Did the route this morning/afternoon (Monday). Very scenic and some roads I haven’t been down before. Like Alun & Breda I had navigation problems.

I had navigational problems and found myself in Southend (not Southend on Sea unfortunately!). The first time I’ve used Viewranger to navigate.


After a test ride on Sunday, felt OK for the hills (but with no quest for speed) A few aches, but otherwise strangely fit! And yet another beautiful day.


Lovely day, thanks for the route; Tom and I cycled to Stanford Dingley but avoided Streatley Hill and took a few short cuts including off road from Ashampstead towards Yattendon and back from near Bradfield to just before the long hill up to Captain’s Gorse, Upper Basildon (I’d always wondered about that bridge over the M4).
Met Phil near Rotten Row and Simon very public spiritedly strimming nettles on the path from near his house to the river bridge (he’d cycled the route previous day).

Thanks to you and Nev for a wonderful, intricately crafted route through villages and roads invented for the day. The mercifully brief Tutts Clump hill and wonderful countryside was a real treat and the mileage seemed at least double – but in a “I’m really enjoying this” way.

Sorry to keep missing the tutorials. My home study is progressing but very slowly.
Dist       25 mi
Time     2.10
Av Sp    11.8
Elev       1675

Eight Miles High Results

Having a go at being the earliest byrd perhaps, Neville started his ride at 05:12. He took a loop around the Ups and Downs to warm up before tackling Streatley Hill. His track shows a stop of 15 min at Hampstead Norreys Community Shop, for a socially-distanced coffee. There’s building work going on around the back.

With the aid of a few WhatsApps to and fro during the week, Nev and I had figured out how to get Buddy Beacon working, so I was able to track him. I left home at 09:12, hoping to catch him at The Bull; in practice we met on Streatley Bridge.

After a suitable socially-distanced chat I carried on up Streatley Hill and anticlockwise around the route to Peasmore, where the bench outside the church made for a great place for a snack stop. I had a quick chat to a cyclist who was doing around 30 mi from Newbury and back.

A few minutes after leaving Peasmore I met Chris coming the other way, so we stopped for an across-the-road chat.


Excellent ride, great to meet up again! I managed a shade under 12mph for my reverse trip, and can confirm that Applepie hill is much easier than Streatley!

Did the route this morning which was very enjoyable. Along the way I met Alun, Breda and Chris as well as cycling with Ron from Compton to Hermitage.

I drove to Compton then followed the route. It was good to meet Phil along the way, and to be able to cycle with him for part of the route. After Hampstead Norreys I completed the circle back to Compton. We met Chris along the way.

Lovely ride to and from Peasemore with Breeda in glorious sunshine. Also the most sociable in recent times meeting Phil near top of Streatley Hill and then Mick and Chris at Peasemore.

Social distancing while admiring Chris’s Moulton (photo by Mick).


Also bumped into Alun & Breeda and Chris

Another wonderful ride in glorious sunshine that has greatly enhanced my local geography and the need for the magic cream.

Dist                     30.19
Time                   2.32
Av Sp                  12.0
Elev Gain            1,700

Sorry, photo from weeks ago near Cuddesdon – NHS balls up!

Did an off-road version of this with Tom today as far as East Ilsley via the Ridgeway in lovely weather. Included off-road south from East Ilsley towards Hampstead Norreys but chickened out in the middle of nowhere when signs only seemed to want to show a route back towards Compton; a bad move as the shop in Compton was closed…

Eight Miles High

It’s not quite as high as that, but you can still swoosh like a byrd down some of the long descents on this ride. You get the payback in early, by starting up Streatley Hill, which should still be reasonably quiet. Alternatively you could take the back way round, up through Stichens Green.

Peasmore is not somewhere we often go, usually bypassing it or whizzing straight through en route to Saddleback. It has a suitably-placed bench outside the church (strangely absent on Google Street View), possibly long enough for two people to sit 2m apart until a third person arrives and the first one has to leave. In theory we could have a serial Gromil meeting.

This week’s quiz has no particular relation to Peasmore, or even Gromils in general, other than that the answers all involve places in the local area most (if not all) of us have been to. Answers to Steve please.

Seventh Sojourn Results


Here are the figures for my Gromil ride on Friday, a mix of the two Britwell routes.
Alas, a puncture – my 5th of the year.


I rode the Britwell off-road option today (Saturday), fabulous weather and another splendid route, thanks Nev! I didn’t know of the sunken lane near Nuffield…

I did the Britwell Hill on road route yesterday (Sunday). Cool and windy but not as bad as today.

I did the off-road on Sunday morning, while it was still moderately warm. The on-road route Monday morning was very bracing, with the stiff northerly wind.

Not much room for social distancing on the bridleway near Ipsden; better to stick to the wide (?) open road.


Breeda and l did the on road Britwell Hill ride this morning (Monday). Fine sunny weather but cold strong winds gave an added challenge.


View from our walk.


Many thanks Steve and Neville for three (THREE!!) absolutely fantastic rides this week.
Water hazards, tree roots, tree roots, stunning, stunning scenery and a big hill twice.

Attached photo: – Full PPE at New Barn Farm

Stats according to Messrs Garmin:

                            Britwell Road     Big Loop             Britwell off-road

Dist                      27.67                   46.06                   31.09

Time                     2.42                     3.50                     3.02                    

AvSp                     12.9                     12.4                     10.2

Elev Gain            1145                    1822                    1596

Lovely morning (Tuesday) – not too windy and I managed to cycle all the way up Britwell Hill

Ewelme Church – last resting place of Alice Chaucer and Jerome K Jerome

Britwell Hill – doesn’t look so bad from the top!

Took advantage of better weather on Tuesday and did short ride of the bottom half of the off-road figure of eight route with Tom. I really didn’t know much about Swan’s Way but we’ve now done two local parts recently and its really nice; I believe the whole 65 miles towards Aylesbury and Milton Keynes is Bridleway so unlike the Ridgeway in that direction, it can be cycled.

Seventh Sojourn

We approach the seventh week of lockdown not knowing the extent to which restrictions on travel will be eased, or even when. Life is certainly Strange at the moment.

On the menu this week we have both on-route and off-road routes to our local ski jump, aka Britwell Hill. For anyone who’s yearning for a longer ride, while still remaining a socially-responsible distance from Goring in case of breakdown, there is La Grande Boucle de Goring Gap.

There’s a special picture and music quiz this week, courtesy of Neville. Answer sheet is below. Send your answers to Neville for scoring. Good luck.

Bonus question (from Steve): Which re-release overshadowed both Isn’t Life Strange and I’m Just a Singer (in a Rock and Roll Band) Apologies to Simon, who’s probably too young to remember the hits of 1972?

Essential Reading Results

Lots of variety, both in terms of times and routes. Neville was the first to get started, on Friday, though he did miss a turn or two, but reprised some old quiz photos.



Cycled to Mackney Island today! (Saturday). What is locally known as Mackney Island is on fact a small village south of Brightwell cum Sotwell surrounded by streams, making it technically an island!

Monday I cycled from Blewbury to N Stoke then up to Well Place, then home. Beautiful sunny ride 24 miles.

I did the route on Saturday and was surprised it included a road I have never been down before.


Thanks Steve for the joy of two rides this week. How spoilt we were.

My data as follows:

Boxford Alps (Sat)          Essential Reading (Sun)

Dist:      36.86mi                             25.6mi

Time:    3.12                                   2.02      

AvSp     11.5mph                           12.5mph

Elev G   2766ft                                1,324ft.

The Bagnor Valley and the Alps was absolutely delightful and well worth the ‘hilly’ bits. Essential Reading was also great but I took issue with the ‘Easy’ epithet when coming down Berins Hill my brakes completely failed! Thankfully my cycle shoes provided just enough drag to stop at the bottom and the ride was long enough after that to regain some composure. I ordered new disc pads immediately followed by a very strong drink.


Sunday I drove to Streatley to ride the Boxford route, on a rather cool and cloudy day. Did it anticlockwise, which meant straight up the hill! And I’d forgotten Frilsham’s also uphill.
Pleasantly scenic route anyhow.


Thanks for the route, lovely ride with Tom today (Monday) which we completed this time (with a couple of minor diversions to reduce main roads mileage). BT Openreach had closed the road near the old Cross Lanes orchard but no problem for cyclists.

Regarding the quiz this week, some great entries but none with full marks yet. By the way with one exception, each clue is a specific landmark, so I think answering Goring for the “GOR” clue would get 0.25 of a mark. New (and updated) entries up to Thursday Zoom call…


Alternative Monday exercise. Plan to cycle tomorrow.

Breeda and l did the ride this morning. Very pleasant but busy leaving Reading on B481. Gravel Hill is a great way to avoid riding through the worst parts of Caversham and potentially part of a new route to Henley.


Bluebell walk


Like Andrew and Tom I came across the road closure at Cross Lanes, but snuck past without any problem. Gravel Hill no longer lives up to the first part of its name, with a nice smooth tarmac surface. The hill was just as bad as ever though.

Just after Ipsden church I heard what sounded like a small bang, followed by quiet tinkling. When I investigated by getting off and spinning the wheels, I found one of the rear spokes had broken – drive side, of course. No problem riding home the rest of the way once I’d removed the tinkly bit, then it was Tuesday afternoon’s job to fit a spare. Thanks Chris for the spare.

Essential Reading

Now We Are Six

We celebrate the sixth week of Lockdown with a suggestion for a ride (23 mi) that doesn’t get further than 8 miles from Goring at any point, just in case you need to walk back.

This week’s quiz is from Andrew:

Bonus quiz question (from Steve): Who famously played the saxophone solo on Steeleye Span’s wonderful Now We Are Six album, and what was the title of the track? There’s a clue on the gnome page.

We also have another couple of suggestions on offer, in case you want cycling exercise more than once a week – you could consider these as the B rides. (No promises that next week there’ll be seven B rides for seven brothers).

This is the route Phil took to Bradfield and Basildon. (We can’t embed it in the web page, as it’s a third-party route)

Below is my route to the Bagnor Valley and Boxford Alps

Take Five Results


Having driven to Ewelme on Saturday, I rode the route from there in the prescribed clockwise direction. A spectacular aerial display just beyond Chiltern Park where a big field being ploughed had attracted a score of circling red kites! Not much else to report, apart from many cyclists being on the roads…


A glorious day for cycling Kingston Hill… (Sunday)


Did some of the route yesterday (Sunday). I only went as far as Watlington then up Watlington Hill instead of Kingston.


With rain forecast for Monday afternoon I hit the road before nine so as to be back by lunchtime. Very benign cycling conditions – hazy sun, little wind – but Kingston Hill seemed as hard as ever. By the time I got to Woodcote I was feeling ready for lunch, so didn’t follow Nev’s little jaunt around the back streets and so got back home with a total of less than 38 miles.


Good route and weather but nasty hill turned into pleasant walk and even more bluebells!


We cycled the route this morning omitting only the last part from Woodcote to Whitchurch Hill due to urgent need for a cup ot tea available in Elvendon Road. Stats from newly downloaded Strava sent separately. A really enjoyable ride with long gentle downhill or flat section from top of Kingston Hill to Goring.


Tom and I did a reduced route, cutting down the Ridgeway and Swan’s Way from Watlington to near the bottom of Syncombe Hill (where there was a police car waiting on the bridleway). A very nice ride plus I’d not done those bridleways before; oh and no nasty hills…


I cycled from my home in Blewbury to Ewelme via Wallingford, then off towards Goring, returning after the airfield to Ewelme then home. I deviated to Cholsey and back to bring the total mileage up to 40 miles, my record for the year so far. Enjoyed a rest by the pond at Ewelme on the way back.

Many thanks Nev for a stunning ride through some of the prettiest parts of the neighbouring counties. Bluebells and all!

Thank God for ViewRanger – I’d still be trying to complete the fiendish circumnavigation of Woodcote without it.

Dist:                    44.6mi
Time                   3.37hrs
Av Speed            12.3mph
Elev Gain            1,854ft

Take Five

As we go into the fifth week of lockdown, could we take another five? Let’s hope we don’t have to. In the meantime, here’s a ride from Neville, taking in the mighty Kingston Hill, but not the wee cafe called the Wee Cafe.

There’s also another Cwiz from Steve. See below for the Cafe Cwiz.

Blues and Greens

Padnell’s Wood

When the world eventually gets back to normal (if it ever does), I wonder if we will look back with some fondness to this period of the coronavirus lockdown when the sun shone every day, the roads were quiet and cyclists often outnumbered cars. Since the rain stopped and lockdown started, this has been a wonderful spring for cherry blossom, empty skies and extensive views due to the clean air. Pale greens of new beech leaves complemented by the bluebells and the blue sky.

Inside the hospitals it must be a very different story for patients struggling to breathe or staff working 12 hour shifts in trying conditions. Blues and greens have very different connotations for them. Extra reasons for us to be extremely grateful and to hope that everyone will be able to enjoy the great outdoors again soon.

Thanks to all for the lovely photos.


I went wrong a few times, including just after this photo!

Didn’t you see the arrow, Nev?

Complete; many bluebells. Slow time


Did the bluebell ride this afternoon (Sunday) on my mountain bike.


Ridden on Sunday, plenty of bluebells (and other cyclists!), but slightly modified, as I didn’t want to off-road after the recent rain… Chiltern woods now carpeted with bluebells, just wonderful.

This is my slow track being a nervous off roader. Bumped into Steve and accompanied him for a while. Became almost bluebell blasé !

Tom and I took bit of a short cut but still spectacular bluebells and lovely weather. We met Breda and Alan coming the other way just up from the King William but I think the wind favoured our anti-clockwise circuit…


Breeda and l did the ride in reverse direction on Monday. Beautiful sunny weather with spectacular woodland scenery and bluebells. Saw Andrew and Thomas, then Steve then Simon. Rode via Hailey, lpsden Heath, Checkendon, Stoke Row, Greys, Rotherfield but then back directly via Wyfold and Exlade St to avoid some of the off-road. Great ride.


Suffolk bluebells.


Thanks Steve for an absolutely stunning ride. The route through so many bluebells was really magnificent and the fragrance………!!

I must have been just behind Andrew & Tom because I passed Breda and Alan just before Homer farm.

No mechanical issues but very sore with the unsuspended mountain bike. Average speed 10.7mph.


Mick in the Woods

Mick did not literally bump into me I’m glad to say, but we did take the opportunity to take photos of each other from an appropriate distance.

Yesterday I cycled from Blewbury over the 7 hills to Goring, then joined the Gromils route. I avoided the off road section by turning off to Well Place. A donkey near the bottom of the hill, and lots of bluebells at the top!
Returned via the A417 and Cholsey. Exhausting!

Here is a picture of the Cholsey buttercups as a change from bluebells!

Bluebell Bridleways

It’s that time of year when the sun is shining (hopefully), the birds are singing, the nettles haven’t yet grown over the paths, and the bluebells are out. Time to take a little excursion into the woods around Crays Pond and Checkendon to enjoy the bluebells while they’re at their best. Don’t forget to stop and take some photos, or just admire.

See below for Neville’s quiz, which has nothing whatever to do with bluebells, but does have a prize! Answers to Nev.

Flat White Results

So here’s what everyone’s been up to on “Monday’s Ride”, anytime from Saturday to Tuesday.


Here are my stats for this week’s route that I did on Saturday when the weather was perfect. I think my track missed a bit when I accidentally had it on pause although I did do the whole route.


I did the route, but did it anticlockwise (never done it that way before). I passed Simon in Cuddesdon, 5 minutes later he called me – he had broken his chain. Neither of us had tools with us. At this moment he is on a long walk home…


Ride done, windy all the way and chilly until 11ish. No Gromils spotted, but roads nicely quiet.
47 miles at 12mph average.


With a 30+ mph NNE, it was lovely zooming along the flat from North Stoke to Little Stoke on Monday. The rest of the ride was a different story. In terms of sunshine, wind and temperature, those who did the ride earlier in the weekend had the better of it.

I did a recce of the ride last week and was more than 20 min faster for the route. This time I thought I’d ride it anticlockwise in the hope of passing some Gromils coming the other way. It looks as though Chris had the same idea, as the stats show I was generally 15 min behind him all the way around the part of the circuit we had in common. His speed was remarkably constant, both into the wind and with it, whereas I speeded up considerably after stopping for two mini Easter eggs in Cuddesdon (and having a following wind for the next bit).


Breeda and l went for a walk today (Monday) instead of cycling. Elvendon Rd – Airfield – Furniture Hill – Norman’s Timber – Wellplace – Tour of Ipsden – Elvendon. 26500 steps, 3 hrs 30 mins, approx 13 miles. Bright sunny weather but cold wind. Too cold to cycle? Hope to cycle to Cuddeston Tues or Weds.

Cycled to Cuddesdon this morning (Tuesday). Alone!!!! Fantastic weather for cycling. I left at 11.15 so cold wind had largely gone. Stuck to the route on the outward western leg and almost did the same on the return eastern leg but once l got to Ewelme it occurred to me that l could take a flatter faster route by riding across to Benson then past Howbery then on main road to Goring arriving at 2.45pm. Really enjoyable ride.

Tom and I did the route as far as Benson then came back via the other leg. Very few cars but cold and windy to start; much nicer with sun and following wind on way back. Met Breda and Alan near the airfield…

Could not cycle this morning (Monday) as my boiler failed. British Gas Home Care were amazingly good at fixing it! Hoping to be on my bike tomorrow


My stats for Tuesday- beautiful weather but cold!

I did a bit of exploring the local byways 14 miles roads lanes tracks and paths. Really nice, a bit cool but sunny scenery wonderful.

Sorry to be so late… I’m just coming to terms with the trauma. Just to say an absolutely stunningly beautiful ride surrounded by Goldfinches until just past Cuddesdon when Neville passed at great speed going the wrong way round and a minute later my chain mysteriously departed this life. I set off on foot wheeling my untrusty steed until a very tooled and lycraed up man stopped with a chain splitter. 5 mins later I was on my way and 5 hours after I’d set off, I was thankfully home. Neville then rang offering condolences and positive psychology.

Not my fastest rise but certainly my most informative. I’ve had the chain splitter surgically attached, have bought a pump and will be getting a fold up bike that attaches to the frame of the current beast for emergencies. “Be prepared”!

Andrew’s Gromils Spring Quiz

And if you thought Neville’s quizzes were difficult, read on. Answers to Andrew please.

1 How many bikes are allowed on this 8 carriage GWR train?

2 From which “ecclesiastical” lane a number of Gromils routes have used can this folly be seen?

3 Which notorious crime is connected with Bridle Path, Whitchurch used by Gromils in November last year?

4 Which item of Indian aid to the UK is twice as deep as Nelson’s Common and situated near a cafe Gromils often use?

5 Which village on the “Visiting Mother Dunch” route features a famous car museum?

6 Which house is this, very close to a café Gromils have visited of the same name? It was lived in by Miss Beatrix, a rather eccentric gardener

7 Bit of a Google question but beware fake news; two people named Bowden made pivotal contributions to cycling around 100 years ago, what did they do?

8 At the bottom of somewhere; which place did Gromils come across this flood on 2nd March this year?

9 Which café Gromils have only visited around Christmas is near a house owned by Rowan Atkinson?

10 In which village is this manor on the “Flat White” route? Possibly a previous building was once owned by King Canute; no tide to test his powers here but near a significant river

The Flat White

OK, so maybe this isn’t really a flat white, but then this route isn’t totally flat either, just flat in parts. It does however have an opportunity to buy a coffee at the shop in Little Milton, even if your takeaway may not look quite like this. It would be a bit tricky to take away one of these on a bike anyway.

Photos, stats and stories welcome as ever.

Neville’s Spring Quiz

Just to keep you amused and exercise your grey cells as you exercise your legs in the next couple of days, Neville has sprung a picture quiz on us.

Ten pictures, all from places we have cycled in the last few months and all near (but not necessarily on) this week’s route. The challenge is to identify the locations by sticking pins in a map.

How to enter

  • Download the answer sheet
  • Identify the location of each photo, before during or after the ride. If you want to have the pictures with you for reference during the ride, download and print the PDF below
  • Use Google Maps to find the coordinates of each location, as decimal latitude and longitude.
  • Right-click on the chosen location, then select What’s here.
  • Copy and paste the coordinates to the answer sheet
  • Save your completed answer sheet and email it to Neville

Third Time Lucky

It was good to hear how many people enjoyed the flat route last week, but now April is here it’s time to get those legs in shape for the summer. This one is an opportunity to exercise the calves on Streatley Hill, with either Whitchurch or Path Hill on the way home.

We tried to do the top part of this route twice last year, but were thwarted by road works. I certainly remember one occasion where we were blocked from turning left at Four Points and so cycled that part of the B4009 to the Ashhampstead turn for the first time.

This time you could take advantage of the quiet roads to turn left in Bradfield, then ride about 400m on the A340 before turning off through North Street to get to Theale. Unless we have an unforecasted downpour, Nunhide Lane should be in a fit state to ride.

Clumps Cwizz Answers

Here are the official answers to the fiendish Clumps Cwizz:

Question Answer
1The first view of The Clumps, just sneaking out to the right of the coppice on which Hill?White Hill
2What is the name of the farm in front of The Clumps?Sheepcote Farm
3What is the number of this road?A4130
4What is the official name of this place?Oakley Wood (Waste Recycling Centre)
5Less than 50 m off-route on a bridleway that leads to… Where?RAF Benson
6Why could you not have taken this photo 20 years ago?Official Secrets Act
7What is the OS Grid Reference for the location from which this photo was taken? (Hint: It will help to download the image to Windows Explorer)SU 620 933
8What is the geographical feature at the bottom of this field?River Thame
9Travelling the route anti-clockwise, The Clumps appear on the right of the road only once – in which compass direction (N E S or W) from here?North
10What is the number of this road?A4074
11What is the name of the bridge?Clifton Hampden Bridge
12Why has one Clump disappeared?It’s behind the other one
13Taken from the same location as the previous photo. All roads lead to Rome, but where does this road lead (in Latin)?Calleva
14What is the name of the dodgy business visible to the left of this view?Force Vans
15The last time The Clumps are visible is from the top of which hill?Cholsey Hill

And the winner…
will be revealed during the Zoom Tea Stop this afternoon.

Chris, with 14 correct out of 15. Andrew was second with 13.

Clumps Cwizz

To exercise the grey matter as well as your legs, here’s a little quiz. 15 questions, 16 images, all taken in the order the route was ridden. Click on the thumbnail to see the full picture and the question. Answers to Steve by Wednesday please.

No guarantee of a prize, but can anyone beat Neville the Cwizz Whizz? You don’t have to have ridden the route to answer the questions, so distant members can also enter. You’ll find it very useful to refer to ViewRanger and/or an OS map.

There’s a downloadable PDF if you feel the need to print and carry a reference copy with you.