Stunning Banbury to Bath route
England at its quintessential best, this route runs from Banbury in Oxfordshire along the length of the Cotswolds to Bath in Somerset, taking in some of the finest roads in the region.
The B4035 rocks straight off the bat, a rolling ribbon of two-lane tarmac that dashes between the hedgerows to connect the villages dotted across this hilly high ground. The surrounding area is the source of several rivers and the road takes on an organic flow in an echo of their natural course – until that is, its junction with the A429. This next leg traces the Fosse Way, a Roman road that originally ran from Exeter to Lincoln to mark the empire’s western frontier; as a consequence it’s comparatively straight, but makes for an enjoyable cruise nonetheless as it rolls right through Moreton-in-marsh, a pretty market town with a particularly picturesque high street crafted entirely from Cotswold stone.
Turn right at The Unicorn in Stowon-the Wold for the B4068, a typically twisty B road that ducks and dives through thicket and copse for a short but rewarding run to the A436. Turn right here to Andoversford and the A40, where you’ll find the opportunity to top up before rejoining the A436 in the direction of Gloucester. Just before Seven Springs there’s a great place to stop for a bite and a brew, a converted coach known as the Cotswold Diner; it closes at 2pm, so if you want to drop in plan accordingly.
Take the A435 from Seven Springs for a ride alongside the River Churn, where the smooth flowing asphalt shimmies in time to the meandering stream. At Perrott’s Brook follow the signs for Daglingworth – this will lead you under the A417 and on to the narrow single track strips that cross the wildest of the Wolds. It’s not exactly remote, but the open farmland is far enough from the madding crowd to make for a suitably relaxed bimble.
At the junction with the A419 head towards Stroud then turn left at the roundabout for Minchinhampton. Turn left at the Ragged Cot Inn and follow the road through Avening, emerging on the B4014 to make a fabulous twist through the tunnel of trees that unravels towards Nailsworth.
The last leg is all A46; a cracking ride that hugs the terrain through a series of turns to crest across the plains where it scythes a blacktop path towards the horizon. Beyond the M4 lies a shallow swoop through the hills, a gradual descent that sweeps down to the City of Bath.