This picturesque 20 mile cycle route uses sections of the Chilterns Cycleway as it passes through the hilly Hambleden Valley in the Chilterns. Some big climbs lead to glorious scenery with plenty of quirky things to see and do along the way with vineyards, windmills and deer parks.
The route starts in Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire and can be ridden in either direction but we recommend riding it anti-clockwise. From the town centre it follows the Chilterns Cycleway out along the Fairmile on a shared use path to Lower Assendon. Here, the route climbs steeply up onto the ridge line.
The views down into the valleys from these quiet lanes are stunning and Red Kites can usually be seen overhead. The route then drops steeply down past the Chiltern Valley Winery and Brewery into the Hambleden Valley before the steep climb up the other side to Frieth.
The incredible 14th Century house at Parmoor is not far from here and has an interesting and colourful history which includes the Knights Templar and King Zog of Albania. It is now St Katharine’s at Parmoor, headquarters of the Sue Ryder Prayer Fellowship, and although it isn’t open to the public on a daily basis, they do good value B&B accommodation.
From here the route drops down into the valley once more through Fingest and Turville with a couple of pub options for lunch. You might start to recognise some of the scenery around here as the village of Turville Heath was used as the setting for the popular BBC TV comedy “The Vicar of Dibley”.
It’s pretty much downhill all the way back to Henley from here as you cross in and out of Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire a couple more times near to Stonor Park. Stonor is one of England’s oldest manor houses and has a number of attractions making it a great cycling destination and day out close to London.
Finally you retrace your steps along the Fairmile into Henley where you can treat yourself to tea and cake at one of the many excellent cafes in the town centre.
Due to the amount of climbing involved the route should probably take an average rider about half a day including a good lunch stop. Fast riders should be able to knock it out in a couple of hours. Most of the hills are quite steep so despite only being 20 miles long, this might not be the best option for novices, we have some others on the site that might be more suitable.
The Chilterns Conservation Board has produced a map with the route on that can be downloaded and printed out. It also has places of interest and village pubs marked on it.