Oxford was a really beautiful and bicycle friendly city to stop by. Streets in the center were mostly pedestrian and crowded with tourist after 10am but some college courtyards and gardens stayed very quiet throughout the day.
Christchurch college was still a highlight for Harry Potter’s fan, because its rooms and stairs where used in the movies.
There are many towers and spires in the city and we found one we could climb up to overlook the Bodleian library.
Along the Thames, the cycle way was very pleasant and bordered with other ancient and venerable colleges whose gardens are very carefully maintained.
We visited the very eclectic Ashmolean museum and en exhibit about old maps in a new building of the Bodleian library and of course passed near the Bridge of Sighs, which actually looks more like the Rialto Bridge in Venice than to its homonym.
Luckily the weather was wonderful in Oxford, but not at all on the following day. We rode a bit more than 60km under the rain and missed pictures of the Thames riverside, and the cycleway right under the cooling towers of Didcot power station. It was a pleasant ride after all with a stop in a picturesque isolated inn in the Chiltern Hills again. We Spent the night in Reading.
Weather is changing quickly in Great Britain, so we were luckier early morning when riding on along the Thames river towards Windsor.
The little city was a bit crowded for its size and it was difficult to get a nice view of the huge royal castle. Nevertheless, the Cycle Route number 4 lead us for many kilometers inside the Windsor Great Park and it was a very nice ride though sign posting tended to disappear.
At the exit of the Park, we were again quite close to London. Heathrow airport was actually only 5km away and the Royal Castle is really under the planes’ path.
The river became wider and wider but we soon left it to head South to Woking. H.G. Wells was one of its famous residents.
We met our second Warmshowers hosts in Guildford and he pointed us to a nice way to go out of the city by following a little trail along the river.
Actually the full day was on a little trail called the Downs Link. It was a former railway extending from Guildford to the coast and now really practical for cyclists. It was supposed to be a part of the National Cycle Network but it had its own signage « Downs Link ».
It lead us directly to Shoreham-by-Sea, aside from any traffic.
From there, we rejoined cycle route number 2 along the South Coast, on a part I already rode in another direction back in 2015 when cycling from Paris to Scotland.
The coast is largely an urban area untill the buzzing city of Brighton. It was windy on the famous Pier and cosy in the little alleys full of jewelries of the city center. In the middle of all this stands the Royal Pavilion with its odd Indian architecture that is the city’s symbol.
The coast between Brighton and Newhaven became quieter with nice clifftop trails. At some point we crossed Greenwich meridian at a place marked by a monument.
And we finally reached Newhaven some hours before our scheduled departure.
Our return to France occured by night, which is not very comfortable because the crossing is short (5 hours). Besides that the arrival in the morning was far too early for the first train and we had to wait a couple of hours outside Dieppe train station while it was pouring rain.
Overall it made an about 800 kilometers loop.