South Oxfordshire

Rider: James Aubry

James’ ride is the perfect route for those looking for a mix of spectacular views over South Oxfordshire. It passes the exquisite villages of Stokes Row, Sonning Eye and heads into Henley-on-Thames for the best boating and lunch spots by the Thames.

This is a route I used to do regularly when training as a junior and still take regularly. The ride mostly takes you down some really quiet roads in the Chilterns, climbing up and down the ridgeway with the lovely views thrown in for good measure. Although the best roads are north of Henley, this ride starts and ends in Twyford for one reason: Bia Cycling Café. This has only been around a year or two but it is ideal for a pre-ride coffee and/or post-ride snack.

The ride heads out from Twyford towards the picturesque village of Sonning Eye. You’ll have to cross a busy roundabout on the way, so be careful, even if you’re an experienced rider. As you go through Sonning Eye, you’ll cross the River Thames, and it’s a particularly appealing place to stop if you are having an easy day. Spare a thought for tidiness, though – plastic pollution is a persistent problem along the lngth of the river.

After Sonning, you head up a steep climb before a fast run down into Henley. There are plenty of cafes if you fancy a stop at this point. And there’s also another chance to sit by the river and watch the rowers and boats pass by (you can do this now or as you loop back at towards the end of your ride).

Coming out of Henley, you head to the ridgeway up Stonor Valley. Now the landscape gets really great. I tend to take a right turn part-way up for a more interesting climb. This way takes you on a quieter road and on to Christmas Common. If you’re in need of a drink at this point, there’s the Fox and Hounds pub just at the top, if you turn left at the T-junction. If you carry on in that direction, you pass along the top of the ridgeway before dropping back down towards Nettlebed.

If you’re after more of a climb though, and a steep one too, take a right at the T-junction and and then an immediate left. This will drop you down into Watlington. Here, you’ll climb back up to the top of the ridgeway where there’s a fast, undulating descent to Nettlebed with no sharp corners. Taking a right turn at Highmoor Cross towards Stoke Row sends you on quieter roads again - although there’s a steep climb coming into Stoke Row.

As you enter Stoke Row, you turn left and head down to Sonning Common and out the other side, where you descend down Devil’s Hill into Henley. Careful – this is quite a steep descent! After leaving Henley there’s an immediate right and you’re not far from home. You pass through Wargrave and then on to Twyford for a well-earned cafe stop.

about the rider

James has been on his bike since childhood. A former racing cyclist, James now rides for the love of cycling and to keep fit – documenting his cycling journey on his Instagram page, Vegan Tri Guys.


beauty in the balance

Scientists have estimated that 94,000 microplastics per second flow down the Thames in places.
Animals ingesting microplastics, including 95% of mitten crabs, were found to have tangled plastic in their stomachs.
93.5% of microplastics in the Thames were formed from larger plastic items, with food packaging believed to be the main source.


what to see and do

Henley-on-Thames

Stop off here to watch the boats go past, you really can’t miss it.

Watlington Hill

Part of the ride route and a National Trust site, this really is a great place to stop and take in the views.

Stonor Park Mansion

A beautiful 850-year-old manor house with walled gardens, there’s often something happening in the grounds.

Twyford Village

Stop off for a well deserved coffee and cake break, there’s loads of cafes to chose from here.

ride guide: the who, what & where

for a pitstop

The Fox & Hounds pub is a great stop for a mid-point refresher.

for repairs & maintenance

BIA Cycling Cafe at the start of the route also has a great shop for any gear you need.

meet the locals

Reading Cycling Club has been running since 1974 and hosts lots of different rides for different abilities.

travel tip

if you’re travelling by train, you can start and end at Twyford Station. Trains run to London Paddington approximately every 15 minutes


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