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2011 Autumn Meet at Court Hill Centre near Wantage

2011 Autumn Meet at The Court Hill Centre near Wantage
Information about The Court Hill Centre
The Court Hill Centre, Court Hill, Wantage, Oxfordshire, OX12 9NE
Phone Number: 01235-760253
Website: http://www.courthill.org.uk.
About the Area
The Court Hill Centre (formerly YHA Ridgeway) is located a couple of miles south Wantage, right on the long distance bridleway through Berkshire and Wiltshire, Known as the Ridgeway. For those who don't know the area it is one of open chalk downs with extensive views north and south. There is an inexhaustible network of bridleways as well as The Ridgeway. The best part of cycling is the wide open vistas and the sense of history; there is evidence of man's presence on the land from the Neolithic era onwards. Until a few years ago there were problem with vechicles damaging The Ridgeway. A great deal of work has been done to restrict access, with the result that you are assured a rideable and traffic free journey.
The hostel itself  is worthy of mention, being composed of a number of relocated farm building arranged in a courtyard. This was flagship hostel, some 20 years ago with David Bellemy carrying out a well publicised opening. This is hostel accomodation of a very high standard.
Report of the weekend by Steve Griffith
Over 30 members met at The Ridgeway Hostel above Wantage to enjoy some of the best rough stuff Southern England has to offer. Also known as England’s Oldest Road The Ridgeway is only about 500 metres from the hostel so it’s quite possible to plan a route 90% off road. Saturday was spent heading west  passing White Horse Hill and a number of prehistoric sites such as the burial mound of Wayland Smithy, and then back by the Vale of the White Horse pausing in the village of Uffington with its unique six sided church and a museum with the biggest collection of copies of ‘Tom Brown School Days’ I have ever seen (the author was a local).
The committee meeting passed of smoothly the Alan Mepham merit shield being awarded to Peter Kenner, the outgoing secretary. Some very hard work has been put in by Jill and Chris Bolton, RSF’s route librarians, in transferring to digital format much of the Fellowships route information.
The highlight of the weekend for some was the slide show given by David Warner on Charlie Chadwick, RSF’s first chairman. David showed us many of his sketches which were of Patterson quality, and his slides of many wild and lonely places such as the highlands of Scotland. Typically for an RSF audience there was always someone who recognised or knew the locations, what and erudite bunch we are!
Sunday rides were shorter with majority of us going east along the Ridgeway although at one point our progress was halted by an illegal  ‘rave’ the police asking us to take a detour. The Ridgeway is now pretty much a 100% rideable surface since motorised vehicles were banned; although I can imagine the chalk descents are pretty slippery in wet weather. It was encouraging to see a number of members coming for the first time, a warm welcome to Chris, Paulette, Peter  and John. My thanks to Jane and Neville for leading rides on both days.

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