Day 23 - From Oxford to Blenheim Palace and return - 22.2 miles
When we were in Hastings, "Lord Hastings" as he was called by another diner, had told us that the greatest of the palaces was Blenheim Castle. We didn't realize it but we found that we were only a few miles away once in Oxford. We checked with one of the girls at the hostel desk. She said it was an easy ride. We decided a visit to the palace was in order.
We decided to travel a map showing a Botanical Trail for the trip north through town. The trail was a bust. It could have been that we were late and that it showed best in the spring but I suspect that it was an attraction living on past glories. I didn't see many signs that any portions of the trail had been maintained recently.
We continued on through the neighborhoods north of town until we reached the A44, a heavily traveled, sometimes divided highway. A bike path ran along side and although bumpy in places, made the riding easier and safer than riding the shoulder with such heavy fast traffic.
We reached Woodstock about 11 am. The morning weather had threatened rain but the skies had cleared as we rode the into the long entrance to Blenheim Palace. We cabled our bikes to the bike rack and paid the 21 pounds admission to view the interior of the castle. The tour started off with an exhibition on Churchill and led to a small bedroom where he was born. The tour continued on, from floor to floor and room to room, each filled with numerous treasures in furniture and art.
The palace somehow seemed impersonal compared to Arundel and Wilton House. It had an unlived in feeling, and a sense of past glory rather than a contemporary place in British society.
We walked through the palace gardens and had a lunch of soup, bread and ice cream at the palace cafe. We rode home the way we came, with plenty of time to relax and have dinner.
I passed the 2,000 mile mark on my bike on the way to Blenheim castle during the morning ride. We passed the 400 mile mark on our tour on the ride back. To celebrate we rode into town and had dinner at Que Pasa, a great deal at 12 pounds 95 for two pasta dinners and a bottle Spanish red wine. We ended the day by going to our room and watching TV until we fell asleep.
Total mileage - 22.2