Summertown to Farmoor Reservoir

Today Rachel and I decided to take advantage of no rain in the forecast and hop on our bikes to try out a comfortable 29 km ride. We moved to Oxford just months ago and have been wanting to explore some of the beautiful cycle routes we know are in our backyard. Rachel is 22 weeks pregnant, so this was a bit of a test ride for longer ones that we hope to do in the future.

One of the first significant landmarks that we stumbled upon was the Trout Inn. We've heard this is a great place to stop and were surprised by how close it was to our home. From there we journeyed on through Wolvercote and enjoyed the beautiful houses and rose gardens as we cycled by.

It wasn't long before we felt as though the city was far behind as we crossed the river Thames and spotted sheep in the fields directly to our left. The roads were narrow with intermittent bike lanes. But the cars gave us plenty of space.

After a few more kilometres of riding alongside the fields, we took a turn that led us to a private road to the Wytham Woods car park. There was a 9.9% climb to get to the top of what we hoped would be the next segment of our ride. As we rounded the last bend and came to the top of the climb a gate came into view. As we approached, we saw the most disappointing sign for a cyclist.

"NO CYCLING" through Wytham Woods

"NO CYCLING" through Wytham Woods

It took us a few minutes to accept our fate. I even tried to haul my bike through the mud beside the gate but was dissuaded by a barbed wire fence. Then I attempted to fit my bike through the footpath gate, but that didn't work either. Either way, our conscience was pricked because the signage was clear, "NO CYCLING."

Since we started the day with the aim to cycle, we had to find another way to our destination. We pulled up an alternative route and hopped back on our bikes. Being guided by Google Maps, while RideWithGPS tracked our path, we followed a no-name road alongside the A34 until we were directed to veer left onto the slip road. It wasn't long until we were on the Eynsham Rd/B4044. This is where the fun began.

While there was no designated bike lane, the road was smooth, the views were gorgeous, and the cars gave us a wide enough berth. We were able to finally drop a few gears and settle into that feeling of the wind on your face as you "fly" down the road. Before we knew it, it was time to turn left, and less than a kilometre away was the Farmoor Reservoir.

When we pulled in, we were glad to see they had a public loo but were disappointed by another "NO CYCLING" sign. We were hoping to finish our ride by peddling around the reservoir. Instead, we settled for a sunny picnic over the water and enjoyed a brief walk to admire the view.

After this nice little rest, we were ready to hop on our bikes and head home. We travelled out the way we came in, cycling quickly down the smooth highway. We turned left towards Cumnor Hill and made our way to the city centre. But before traffic became too congested, we jumped off the road and onto the river Thame pathway. We kissed speed goodbye as we slowed down to admire the quickly moving river while also trying to stay out of it as we dodged pedestrians on the footpath.

For the next 3.5 kilometres, we rode our way over roots, gravel patches, puddles, and pretty little bridges. The river opened up into Port Meadows where we saw a team of horses grazing, houseboats moored along the side, and people picnicking while dipping their toes into the fresh water.

We cut through one last gate and found ourselves back in Wolvercote, but this time riding home. A few roundabout crossings later, we cycled up to our door. And just like that, we finished our first fun ride as a family of three as Oxford residents!