It all got a bit Famous Five last weekend, when I hit the road with PedalFolk, a band of travelling folk musicians bent on cycling from Bath to the Oxford Folk Weekend, stopping off for gigs, alfresco singing and the occasional cider on the way.
Pedalfolk is the genius plan of Tim Graham and Robin Grey, who along with the rather gorgeous violinist Katie Stone-Lonergan, decided to combine pedaling with fiddling, and invited me along to take some photos of the whole adventure.
After a cycle from Bath to Bristol, Tim, Robin and Katie played at the cosy Rose of Denmark pub on the Thursday, with a set list of gentle balladic songs and melodic folk tales that warmed the audience’s collective cockles and was the perfect start to my adventure with them.
We left Bristol on Friday morning, having first stopped off to purchase some attractive padded shorts, and meandered gently along in glorious sunshine through the Somerset countryside. Robin had managed to plan a route along country lanes and small tracks (so small, in fact, that we sometimes lost them and were essentially cycling through muddy fields) but we still managed to cover 50 miles in seven hours with regular (and essential) pub breaks and tea-and-cake stops, and made it to Swindon in time for the guys to crack out the instruments for their second gig, in the reading room of Swindon’s Central Library.
The next morning we massaged leg muscles and repacked panniers and hit the road for the final stretch – 40 miles to Oxford. The sun was glorious and the countryside was just as beautiful as the day before – an endless stream of picture-book villages, overgrown churchyards and spring flowers. We stopped at the unbelievably cute village of Appleton in a little pub garden where a charming waitress served us ciders and icecream in proper Enid Blyton style before we rode the last six miles to Oxford to a victorious end at the Old Fire Station and a Sunday full of folk music and sunshine.