Touring the Banburyshire pubs on a bike: The Dirt House pub and The Red Lion Barn

Outside The Red Lion Barn.Outside The Red Lion Barn.
Outside The Red Lion Barn.
In support of village pubs around the area after the pandemic Miles Doughty is touring them by bike. Here is his latest column.

Pub Pedals by Miles Doughty

Another ride with long-time cycling friends and pub fans Dave and Ian to find out how the local pubs have fared with the challenge of Covid.

We faced a few challenges of our own, starting with a puncture that had to be mended twice. Then, a bridleway out of Chacombe turned out to be unmarked across fields and through muddy farm tracks to Little Bourton. We needed the refreshing pint of Hooky at the one-year-old The Dirt House pub (formerly the Plough), which we enjoyed sheltered in the newly fenced outside area.

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A map of the route.A map of the route.
A map of the route.

A better route for a separate visit would be via Cropredy and for this ride going straight from Cropredy to Mollington (shown). From here we passed the still-closed Farnborough Hall heading to another stunning village – Wormleighton. The magnificent castle-like gatehouse is all that remains of the manor set alight by the Royalists in 1645 to prevent capture by the Parliamentarians.

The owners, the Spencer family moved to Althorp (resting place of Princess Diana) abandoning the village until it was re-founded in the mid-19th century. More challenges awaited our ride: a closed road after Aston-le-Walls that we were fortunately able to bypass on bike; and then the hill up into Culworth for some people’s tired ‘lockdown legs’.

The recently decorated Barn at the Red Lion pub now serves as a community shop as well as continuing to serve the gourmet takeaway that Bronni and Justin have been providing Thursday to Sunday since the end of April. They continue to serve food in boxes with disposable cutlery and I chose a terrific chicken, pork and smoked ham terrine with crisp breads.

However, I was disappointed to miss out on potted Cromer crab or sun-blushed tomato and rosemary focaccia. We couldn’t resist the lamb kofta with courgette couscous and the ‘ultimate burger’, both accompanied by fantastic condiments. In the lovely gardens we enjoyed a zesty pint of Mad Goose, from Warwickshire’s Purity brewery. Sadly, there was not enough time for a pint of one of my favourite amber ales, UBU or Useless Bloody Urchin I discover.

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Outside The Dirt House.Outside The Dirt House.
Outside The Dirt House.

Fortunately no more challenges awaited us, as we headed past the 13th century church, which, almost as old as the village, still needs constant maintenance. During lockdown the weather allowed work to finish replacing the roof lead (sadly stolen) that has certainly been tested by recent thunderstorms. We took the shortest route through Thorpe Mandeville as light faded. As with all Pub Pedals I hope you adapt these as you wish, such as taking the lane towards Wardington then back via Thenford. Enjoy.

Route 8 – 26.5 miles

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