Touring the Banburyshire pubs on a bike: The Saye and Sele Arms

The map of the route.The map of the route.
The map of the route.
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

This was the most special bike ride so far – in my ongoing series of visits to local pubs after the pandemic – because it was with the people who I first cycled with!

Now in their 70s my parents Joyce and Terry were also celebrating their golden wedding anniversary on the day of our ride. Fortunately, they are still in good health and, replete with electric bikes, they easily completed the longest pedal so far.

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Miles Doughty with his parents Joyce and Terry.Miles Doughty with his parents Joyce and Terry.
Miles Doughty with his parents Joyce and Terry.

As we left Cropredy, I soon discovered the effectiveness of their electric motors as they zipped up the hills to Great Bourton, and through Hanwell and Horley at a steady 15 mph past more pubs to visit. By Wroxton I needed a breather, so we detoured through the village and its beautiful thatched houses to the stunning Wroxton Abbey – a 17th century house, now owned by the American Fairleigh Dickinson University and giving them some history.

Then on through North Newington to Broughton Castle, a moated manor house that has seen even more history than the Abbey. After surviving Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries, it was used by the Parliamentarians in the Civil War. Now it is owned by the Fiennes family and the castle has itself starred on the big screen as the setting for Jane Eyre. More recently the grounds have provided a welcome relief from lockdown and the castle is now open on Wednesdays and Sundays.

The owner Nathanial Fiennes holds the mysterious title of Baron Saye and Sele – after which the pub is named and where we enjoyed a delicate, well-balanced pint of Cut and Run from Blackpit Brewery, Silverstone. Appropriately, we were surrounded by motorsport paraphernalia, which is a keen interest of landlord Paul. Instead of being busy with motor-racing, during lockdown he had been keeping the locals supplied with flour as well as serving tasty takeaway food. We ordered almost all the starters with crispy whitebait and smooth chicken liver pate being the best. Chicken schnitzel and lamb fillet mains looked good, as did the extensive selection of local Bennett’s ice cream.

Our return route passed Wykeham Park Farm Shop which has continued to supply locals throughout lockdown. The asparagus from the fields we passed en-route to Bodicote is particularly renowned. Avoiding Banbury, we rode back through King’s Sutton where there are yet more lovely pubs in addition to others we passed that l plan to visit soon. I hope you will join me for more pub pedals.

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