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My Chiltern Cycling Challenge

Welcome to my 3rd Lockdown Blog. You may be thinking, at last, a blog on Cycling. Surely, this being a cycling website, why so long before cycling is discussed? Well, that’s simple – in these unusual times we have been advised not to go on rides of more than say a couple of hours (and that’s being generous) local to where we live. Most of us know our local routes instinctively or are proficient in following gps navigation.

So what, you may ask, is new and worthy of this blog?

Well, looking forward to the time when Lockdown is sufficiently relaxed, I have devised a Chilterns One Day Cycle Adventure with a difference. I have chosen the Chilterns as the first of these rides as they are well-defined geographically and ideally served by bike-friendly rail links.

Depending on your preference, you can get to grips with the route of my Chiltern Challenge on Ordnance Survey (the benefits of which I discussed in last week's blog) or Strava.

Views from Coombe Hill and Dunstable Downs

It’s an 89 mile elongated on-road round tour which stretches from Dunstable Downs in the NE to near Henley-on-Thames in the SW. It is structured so that it can be accessed by train at seven points on the Chiltern Line out of Marylebone (1), the Metropolitan (2) or the Midland (3) from Euston. These three lines allow for standard bikes to be carried on trains outside the rush hour and all day, Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays.

Hence, this eco-friendly route is easily accessible without a car and can be used as soon as ‘non-essential’ off-peak train travel becomes acceptable again.

The route has been designed to show the best of the Chilterns both from within the hills and also a substantial stretch on the Lower Icknield Way, providing great views from below the Western Escarpment. This is in contrast to the Chilterns CycleWay which is 170 miles and although it covers all the highlights, it is double the distance and has several less interesting connecting sections. There is also the Chiltern 100 which takes slightly longer and takes in more hills than mine!

So, how does my route work? By using the train, you can start/finish at any permutation of stations creating routes of varying distances up to 89 miles and hill challenges in a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction.

Below, you will see 2 grids from which you can deduce the distance in miles between any two points and the number of hills on that route.

To interpret the grids, choose a start station on the LHS and read along the row. Find your finish station at the bottom of the grid and read up the column until you intersect with your start row. There you will see the miles and the colour scheme shows you the number of hills to be climbed.

The upper grid is for clockwise routes, the lower for anti-clockwise.

If you have particular distance in mind you can of course search for that number of miles and read off the start and finish stations.

In following weeks further routes will be advised in the South East in Hertfordshire and Kent and perhaps even Surrey.

Of course, similar routes can be devised anywhere in the country and may already exist. If any reader knows of similar routes easily linked to the rail network from any of our major cities then I would be pleased to hear from you.



(1) Marylebone – Great Missenden 41 mins ; Saunderston 52 mins; Princes Risborough 59 mins (32mins fast); Little Kimble 66 mins; Wendover 48 mins – hourly

(2) Baker Street (Met) - Chesham -55 mins

(3) Euston – Berkhamsted 36 mins – half hourly

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