With the summer approaching – as heralded by the flowering of one of my favourite wild plants, cow parsley – we had the same discussion for a third year running. “We really should get our bikes out of storage and cycle down the Greenway.” We’ve been saying it for the last two and a half years and only yesterday did we finally get round to it…
The Greenway is a cycle route, footpath and bridleway occupying what was once a stretch of railway line linking Stratford-upon-Avon with Honeybourne. These old railway carriages are the first of several reminders of its past; they’re now used as a cafe and cycle hire place. That’s Lee up ahead of me.
The route takes you right past the edge of Stratford racecourse (not pictured) so we discussed taking a picnic and watching the races from there at some point. This is an old railway bridge close by the racecourse.
Before long you’re out in the open countryside, which is wonderful. We loved the farmhouse in the middle of this field. That’s the kind of place we’d live if we could!
We didn’t see many other people, but when we did pass other cyclists, most of them said hello. We also passed quite a few people with adorable dogs!
This is what appears to be an old station platform, now almost completely reclaimed by nature.
We reached this signpost and, with three miles behind us, decided to carry on a further two miles to Long Marston, in the hope that we’d find a village pub!
Surveying his kingdom!
Another farmhouse in the middle of nowhere.
Here’s a close-up of the post in the above photo, which I thought was interesting.
There were more railway carriages here – another cafe, though it was closed. We’ll have to check it out next time.
Continuing on our way to Long Marston, we passed this field of sheep. There was some impressive ridge and furrow in the field, but you can only just make it out in the photo!
Success! We made it to the pub in Long Marston…
…and had a well-earned drink to replenish our energy levels. I had Archers & Lemonade – such a lovely summery drink.
It was then that it dawned on us that we still had to cycle all the way back! We were feeling a bit tired and I must admit I struggled to keep up with Lee on the way home. Click the play button below to watch his rather adorable video, which also gives you a good idea of what cycling on the Greenway is like.
NB: I made him wear the hat not “because of” his sunburn, but to prevent him from getting sunburn!!
Here’s me lagging behind as usual!
Here you can see my steed. It’s my cousin’s old bike and it’s still going strong! I bought the basket for it when I had it in Oxford, and it proved useful for carrying bits and bobs for the journey. Lee’s bike is the one he used to ride about twenty years ago.
Another reminder of the Greenway’s past. I love the old Great Western Railway benches. Everything was so much more elegant back then than the awful designs we must endure these days.
Back at that old station platform – Lee pretending to wait for a train!
Here’s another view of the old railway bridge from earlier. There’s a sort of melancholy about seeing its bare structure, which would once have had beautiful steam trains trundling over it.
We made it! A total of 10 miles – not bad when you’ve not cycled for many years!
Now that we’ve finally brought our bikes out of retirement, I think we’ll try to do more bike rides like this – it was great exercise, and it meant we really earned what I cooked for our evening meal: toad in the hole!
If you’d like to cycle, walk, or horse-ride down the Greenway, you can find more information about it here. It’s a great (free) thing to do in Stratford-upon-Avon, and you can even hire bikes if you don’t have your own.