I like surprises and I know for a fact that a journey on a bicycle can lead you to hidden treasures you never knew existed. Uncovering these treasures can leave you happy for days or even a life time… and on route 403 there is treasure to be found. While staying overnight in the quaint town of Chippenham in Wiltshire I read that there was a small cycle trail named “Route 403” that departed the town via the river. With a day spare we decided to follow the trail to see where it would take us.
Nothing beats warm blue skies while pedalling and we had been delivered perfect weather that day… The interesting art that we encountered as we left Chippenham had us stopping before we had even started. Children’s pictures drawn on square slabs of clay stuck onto a huge wall captured our imagination. It was fun checking out their interpretations of life as they saw it.
The bumpy path wound its way with the flow of the river and we took our time to admire the countryside surrounding us. It was peaceful and quiet as we cycled passed over grown river reeds. An endless display of bulrushes poked their heads up at us. Route 403 eventually left the river and it continued to take us on small country roads to the delightful town of Lacock.
Lacock village dates back to the 13th century and remains largely unchanged over the centuries. It has many lime-washed, half-timbered and stone houses which are protected by the National Trust. The village also has been used as a film and television set making brief appearances in the Pride and Prejudice and the Harry Potter films. This village is a treasure trove waiting to be explored!
Surprises are to be found at every corner of this village. It has so many nooks and crannies for your senses to delight in. Firstly, Lacock’s very picturesque streets are perfect postcard material, then the handsome Abbey with its fine medieval cloisters and if you are interested you might find yourself in the Fox Talbot Museum. This museum celebrates the life of William Henry Fox Talbot ( 1800-77 ). His experiments in the mid 1830s led him to discover the negative/positive photographic process.
Finally, if you are lucky, you might be able to peek inside the wooden splendor of the 14th century tithe barn. After all the exploring we happily indulged our rumbling stomachs at a local pub while soaking up the warmth of the sun’s rays.
Back on the bike seats we decided to continue following route 403 to the town of Melksham. It was only a short ride along small farm roads and upon arrival we cycled a small loop around the town centre before heading back the way we had come.
We came upon a small pub, lifeless with our first passing, now crowded with classic motorcycles parked on its doorsteps. We stopped to admire the love and polish given to these eye-catching vehicles. Most of the owners stood proudly alongside their motorcycles while merrily chatting to others around them, including us.
The afternoon cycle back to Chippenham on Route 403 was now fast and speedy over its bumpy gravel… We enjoyed re-tracing the path we had followed and relished the surprises that had come with it. This small journey had certainly left me with memories of ‘Happiness’.