With temperatures soaring this week, here’s how to plan a ride out to the Cotswolds. It’s an area blessed with plenty of roads to go at, but if you’ve got a window for a quick blast, here’s our route.
Caffeine & Machine. A petrol head hotspot at the top of the Cotswolds, packed with motoring and motorsport memorabilia and an ideal start and / or end point of a ride around a beautiful part of the UK with some excellent roads on hand, too. Grab a substantial breakfast and a couple of cups of coffee, and then exit the car park onto the A422 towards Stratford-upon-Avon to begin the ride.
We’re easing ourselves in at this point. The wide, flowing A-road helps you get in the groove without being too taxing. On a bigger bike, you can chuck it fourth or fifth and just wind it on between corners until you hit the outskirts of the picturesque town.
But we’re not stopping today, so throw a left at the roundabout and use the bypass A4390, then pick up the A3400, sign-posted Shipston and Alderminster. It’s more of the same here, wide, flowing A-road that allows you to get into a rhythm and loll between corners. But as you near Alderminster, keep an eye out for the signs for Wimpstone, with the turning on your right hand side.
Here it starts to get a bit more technical. The early part of the road’s surface is a little unstable, but it soon smoothes out and winds its way out of Wimpstone towards Ilmington. It’s narrower here, but flows for the most part. However, watch out for a couple of corners that require a decent grab of the brakes and working of the gearbox to get you round. One or two also tighten on your, so keep an eye on that vanishing point.
A rise uphill past a farm on the left signals we’re nearing the end of this section, and a right-hand bend gets us into the 30mph zone at Ilmington. The road swings immediately left, but we’re heading straight on into the junction, making our way to Mickleton.
We’ve had fast sweepers and a B-road blast, now it’s the technical stuff. Forget anything above third gear here, and depending on what you’re on, get ready to use first in places.
The Mickleton road is deceptively wide and superbly surfaced, but it’s tighter than two coats of paint. S-bends are more like chicanes, but it makes for a fantastically challenging-yet-rewarding ride, as you slide yourself from one side of the seat to the other and back again, forks diving under braking before you get back on the gas hard and drive out, only to do it all over again seconds later.
Sweet relief comes as you roll into Mickleton. Head straight over the mini roundabout, flick the visor up, and check out some of the old buildings as you burble through on almost tickover - it’s narrow here. Get to the next mini roundabout and its the third exit, staying on the B4632 towards Broadway.
It’s easy now, stay on the 4632 all the way to Broadway, and enjoy some B-road scratching, a mixture of S-bends and sweepers, and countryside views to boot. Get to Broadway and you can bypass it, but we recommend taking the time to go through it, making sure to back it off so you can take in the stunningly quaint high street as you pootle through. Out the other side, it’s a left turn that rejoins the B4632, and continue to the roundabout that intersects the B4077.
Shoot off down the first exit towards Stow and begin a stunning climb uphill. It’s tight and technical again here, winding higher and higher, and there’s barely a moment to steal a glance at the stunning views off to the right.
After what seems like an age, it opens up and the same road transforms into a fast sweeper, with wide bends and roll up and down hill, all the way to Stow-on-the-Wold.
At the lights hang a right and complete the outbound route on the A429 to Bourton-on-the-Water where, handily, there’s a motorcycle parking bay outside the pleasant Small Talk Tea Rooms - ideal for coffee and cake before an amble around the chocolate-box village.
Suitably rested and refreshed, saddle up and leave with the team room over your right shoulder, heading back towards the A429, where you take a right followed by an immediate left for Naunton.
It’s devoid of white lines, but is wide and fast with good visibility and takes us back to the 4077; we’re heading back towards Broadway for the famous run up Fish Hill, so at the B4077 cross roads turn right towards Tewkesbury and follow it back down the hill, before turning right and rejoining the B4632 in the direction of Broadway.
Retrace your steps through the high street to the roundabout at the A44, before taking the third exit and beginning the climb up Fish Hill. And handily, there are two lanes running up the hill, to help you get past slower traffic.
Oh, it’s glorious. All uphill, a quick left soon tightens before a short squirt throws you into a right-hander that opens and opens, before forcing you to slam the anchors on again into another right. Hard on the gas, you’re soon back on the brakes for a 180° left and then back into a long right. As you summit, take the immediate left for Saintbury, and like that Fish Hill is behind you, but what a section of road it is.
Ahead though, we’re B-road scratching again. A wiggly straight leads into a 90° right and then a long left. Continue on, as the road steadily descends to an off-centre crossroads. You want to go straight over onto the B4081, back towards Mickleton, and straight out the other side.
It’s the final furlong now, and we’re back on the B4632, but an untouched section so far. Out of the village the pace quickens - the road is open, visibility good, and the corners seamlessly link into short sections of straights. Feeling lazy? You can easily conquer this section in nothing other than fourth gear, bar one particular 90° right. But this is the run-in, helping you relax as you head back to Stratford-upon-Avon. The road heads downhill to a roundabout just outside the town. From here, reverse your steps on the bypass before taking the A422 towards Banbury, itself an excellent stretch of road.
But you’ll probably want to pop into Caffeine & Machine on the way back past…