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When asked, people are surprisingly protective of favoured routes: a friend promised to give me the details of one he uses just off junction 16 of the M4, but decided to keep it to himself for fear it would be invaded by C&SC readers.
I do enjoy the B4425 that goes from Cirencester to the A40, about a mile outside Burford.
It opens up nicely the other side of Bibury, that chocolate-box village so beloved of tourists where the locals once berated a fellow resident with a newly purchased bright-yellow Vauxhall Corsa for spoiling the ambience.
When the story hit the press in 2017, somebody decided to organise an annual Bibury rally of yellow cars…
If you happen to be in an orange NSU, be prepared to be accosted by members of the public. It continues to amaze me how many people know what it is, and often have a story to tell about an encounter with one.
Climbing out of Bibury, you accelerate into open countryside so green and bountiful that, on a sunny July afternoon, it’s hard not to have an Elgar moment: perhaps I should have done this in a Jaguar, Bentley or Aston Martin?
There are some long, fast, well-surfaced curves with good vision, the traffic is light in both directions, and other road users are generally getting a move on as swiftly as you are.
You’ll probably think you are going quite well on the wider stretches until somebody in a demonic-sounding Audi estate overtakes as if you are standing still.
There’s a lot of quick modern stuff in this affluent part of the world, plus a fair helping of large agricultural machinery with attachments that would put Boudica to shame, so be careful.
Turn right on to the A40 (with care, it’s fast and busy), then down to the roundabout and take the first exit into Burford, a classic Cotswolds village with lots of pubs on a steeply descending high street that ends in a narrow single-file bridge over a river.
On the other side you can go left to Stow-on-the-Wold, but for our purposes take the A361 to Chipping Norton. Go gently here: I’ve had ‘instructions’ from pedestrians about my rate of progress.
There’s a steep pull past Fulbrook then, just as you think you can open up again, there’s a right at Shipton-under-Wychwood for the B4437.
This is the good bit: only 10 minutes or so of entertainment before you hit Charlbury, but offering a fine combination of views across the landscape and big-dipper hairpins that get you working quite hard.
The village of Churchill towards Chipping Norton hosts a surprisingly big classic car meet every other summer, which you might encounter if you time things right.
Beyond Charlbury you could go on to the Tews, under the M40 to Aynho and then drop down into Bicester on the B4011.
It was only at this point during my recce that I remembered Brill (near Thame) and Leatherslade Farm, where the train robbers hid out: with more time I would have attempted to plot a ‘white road’ run to Bridego Bridge.
There is no obvious B-road route, but I clearly recall a brilliant trip between the two points in a shed of a Lancia Gamma – maybe we will save that one for the 60th anniversary of the Great Train Robbery in 2023.
Images: Will Williams
- Where to stay The Fleece: a handsome pub in central Cirencester
- Where to eat Upton Smokery: cantina-style deli just before the A40
- What to see RAF/USAF Fairford: watch the U2 spy planes taking off and landing
- Hidden Gem The Classic Motor Hub: visit by appointment, near Bibury
- Pitstop The Shell station between Fairford and Lechlade on the A417 sells V-Power
All information correct at date of original publication