Pub Pedals by Miles Doughty
It is half term for most people and so a good opportunity to get out cycling with the kids. I was joined by Ben and dad Pete to find out how another local pub is getting on. After warning Ben that there were three larger hills he was still not happy with the first one into Great Bourton. At least there was a sunny bench by the Bell pub. Neither was he impressed with the second hill up through Hanwell and could not even be distracted by the castle. At least the final ascent to Horley Scout camp was familiar to Ben and it was pretty much all downhill then to Wroxton, past the sadly closed White Horse, and onto the quiet road to North Newington.
The village has the usual ironstone buildings and also a delightful dovecote, just down the lane from our destination, the Blinking Owl pub. We were welcomed in by the roaring fire with a magnificent stags head above it and an intriguing collection of other ornaments. With some unusual beers on tap, and appropriate given the season, my first pint was the unofficial Halloween beer, Hobgoblin Gold. This was excellent with perhaps a hint of passionfruit to balance the hops and much tastier than the Wainwright that followed. Both the scampi and pate appealed to me from their simple selection of starters but having got a bit damp and chilly on route I went for the broccoli and stilton soup. This came with a couple of good hunks of tiger bread and certainly satisfied my hunger. There was no way I could have fitted in the tempting 22oz T-bone steak. Ben demolished sausage and chips plus the chips from Pete’s spinach and ricotta cannelloni – surely an incongruous combination? After Ben finally satisfied his appetite with strawberry cheesecake we headed out of the village picking up National Cycle Network route 5 into Banbury. This former Saltway radiating from Droitwich or Salinae (Salt Works) was used for transporting salt, a valuable commodity that gave us the word “salary” from paying soldiers. Now the track provides a quiet slightly muddy route to Banbury station and a range of routes home, from which we chose the flattest although through Nethercote taking care when crossing the A422. With the clocks going back it was beginning to get dusky. We'll have to get out earlier for the last few pub pedals.
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Route 17 – 19.8 miles https://www.maps.ie/map-my-route/viewMap.php?route=166858