Sunday, 21 September 2014

21 Sep: All-day ride to Saffron Walden, Hatfield Broad Oak and Hare Street

Nigel writes: I had only volunteered to lead this ride the previous evening, but that had been enough time for me to plan a route for what was forecast to be a pleasant and sunny day. The only other riders at Brookside were Pete and Conrad, and the three of us had a leisurely ride down to coffee in Saffron Walden.

We took a fairly direct route there since I had planned a fairly long stage afterwards. This took us south along the usual route to Ickleton and then over Coploe Hill to Catmere End. However from there, instead of the familiar descent along Chestnut Avenue to Audley End House, I decided to take a road to Littlebury that I wasn't sure that I had ever taken before.

Link road leading to Littlebury Green Road

From Littlebury we continued east up Windmill Hill to the B184 and from there along the B184 into Saffron Walden. There we stopped for coffee at The Temeraire. Mike S was already there and after a short while we were joined by Rupert, Cheryl and Ian.

Morning coffee at The Temeraire, Saffron Walden

After coffee Pete, Rupert and Cheryl made their way back to Cambridge leaving Conrad, Ian, Mike and me to carry on to lunch at Hatfield Broad Oak. With 20 miles to go I took a fairly direct route. This took us first to Debden and then Debden Green where we turned right onto quieter roads through Hamperden End to Broxted.

Hamperden End

We continued south to Molehill Green on the northern edge of Stansted Airport. After briefly skirting the airport we turned off towards Bambers Green and Takeley, from there a pleasant meander along some very quiet lanes brought us to Hatfield Broad Oak, where we stopped for lunch at Broad Cammas Hall Fruit Farm.

Stopping for lunch at Cammas Hall Fruit Farm

This was the club's first visit to what is essentially a pick-your-own farm. I suspect it hasn't been open long, and the large cafe (and shop) was very quiet. The food on offer consists of sandwiches, paninis and cakes and was entirely satisfactory.

After lunch we turned west, skirting Hatfield Forest and passing through Spelbrook and Green Tye (where Mike left us to take a shorter route) to Much Hadham. There's an excellent ford here here but I was the only one brave enough to ride through. A few minutes further west we reached Barwick Ford, where once again I was the only one who didn't use the bridge.

Barwick Ford

After the ford we turned north to Standon, Puckeridge and Hare Street. This took us directly into the wind which slowed us down somewhat, making me glad that I had abandoned my earlier plan to take a longer route.

We arrived at the March Hare Cafe at about 4.45pm, with Mike S arriving at exactly the same time. Although I had been here before, this was my first visit to the cafe in its current incarnation and was pleased to discover that it was very pleasant, with very welcoming staff and some equally welcoming armchairs in a rather cosy library-like area. A large group of cyclists had visited earlier in the day and eaten many of the cakes, but there were plenty left for us.

Afternoon tea at the March Hare Cafe, Hare Street

After a few minutes later the afternoon ride arrived which on this occasion consisted of John E, Simon and Andy. They had set off with a fourth person but they had decided to take a different route and were not seen again.

After tea we all cycled back to Cambridge. Conrad, John and Simon returned by the direct route along the B1368 whilst Simon, Ian and I took a slightly longer and definitely prettier route via Anstey, Nuthampstead, Great Chishill, Chrishall Grange and Fowlmere. This is one of our most distant tea stops and the journey home was about 22 miles, much of it directly into a rather cold headwind. I arrived home at 6.45pm, having cycled 85 miles.

Download GPS track (GPX).

Thursday, 18 September 2014

18 Sep: Thursday ride to Newport and Great Saling

Edward writes: Another glorious day in this fabulous Indian Summer we have all been enjoying for the month of September. This morning followed the pattern of previous days; cool and misty early on and then sunshine and a warm sun from mid morning for the rest of the day. In cricketing terms when a batsman makes a big score on an easy wicket he would say he would like to roll up the wicket and take it around with him. Our weather today was like that as it was perfect for cycling - warm and sunny and virtually no wind - one we would like to take around with us to our next rides.


For today's ride Jim B was our leader and he was to take us out to Newport for coffee and Great Saling for lunch, thus we would be in the north Essex countryside, a certain recipe for a good day's cycling. At the start there were seventeen including Ian who was making his first ride with us and we took the road to Whittlesford and out to the A505 which we found to be very busy. Eventually we all got across and into Duxford and on to Ickleton which led us up Coploe Hill. Although we are all familiar with this route, being a club favourite, the mist gave it a different feel. Although it was still misty the sun was beginning to break through, raising the temperature and our usual stop at the top presented an opportunity to shed the outer layer of clothing.

Mist on Coploe Hill

On our way again we went to Catmere End and then we turned towards Littlebury Green and further climbing before the rapid descent to Wendons Ambo.

Littlebury Green

Littlebury Green

A brief stop for a passing train and we joined the B1383 for the run into Newport and Dorrington's for our coffee stop. Here we found Greta, who had made he own way there, Doug, Peter Wo, Craig and Martin, also making his first ride with us.

Wendens Ambo

After coffee there were the usual comings and goings but still a large group of seventeen or eighteen headed further along the B1383 to the turning for Henham and Elsenham where we now came to quiet countryside and narrow lanes as first we came to the tiny hamlet of Little Henham and soon after to Henham. Shortly after leaving Henham we entered an off-road section which ran for about a mile and brought us to Church End Broxted. This should have been very satisfying for Jacob, but sadly his other off-road friends, Adrian and John F, were not on this ride.

Little Henham

Off-road to Church End, Broxted

Now we came to the narrow road which leads down to Tilty and along here Peter Wi had a rear wheel puncture and whilst this was being fixed the leading group carried on to look at Tilty church in the grounds of an old Abbey. Apparently the list of priests inside the church goes back to the 1100s.

Tilty Church

After the puncture was fixed we all joined up again, through Tilty and briefly joined the B184 heading north for a little way and then turned eastward through Little Cambridge and on to Lindsell. Soon after Lindsell we were once again on extremely quiet roads which gave us a delightful last three miles to bring us, via another short off-road section, to Andrews Field at Great Saling.

Little Cambridge to Lindsell

This stop is another club favourite; it has a simple menu, friendly staff and usually plenty to see. Today, with the weather so good, we all sat outside and watched many light aircraft take off and after lunch we were able to take a good look at the classic motor bikes which had been ridden there by members of a motor cycle club. This was all very pleasant and made our lunch break particularly enjoyable and perhaps made us reluctant to leave.

Andrews Field, Great Saling

Classic motorbikes: Norton and Ariel

We finally got under way again at 2.15 pm and headed north and picked up a very slight north easterly breeze but so slight to be of any concern. We went through Bardfield Saling and then to Great Bardfield before heading off to Finchingfield. Naturally Finchingfield was very busy but we passed straight through on our way to Helions Bumpstead. Next up was Castle Camps and then the long run down to Bartlow and Linton. This left us with Hildersham, Great Abington and the new cycleway along the A505 which brought us to Babraham and Sawston. We finished the ride by going over to Whittlesford and back to Little Shelford where the final group separated for people to make their own way home. This was another great Thursday ride covering 66 miles of beautifully quiet country roads. Therefore our thanks to Jim for his skills in making this such an enjoyable day. Edward Elmer

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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

17 Sep: Evening ride to Great Wilbraham

Nigel writes: The nights are drawing in, with sunset at 7.15pm, and the nights are getting cooler, but this evening was dry with a slight breeze, offering good conditions for our penultimate evening ride of the summer season. My companions for the ride were Gareth, on his trusty Dawes Horizon, and Chris, on an Airnimal Chameleon similar to the one I was riding.

Our route this evening was a clockwise loop, north-east to Quy, Bottisham and Swaffham Bulbeck, south-east to Dullingham and then south along the B1052 to West Wratting before turning west for the descent down to Six Mile Bottom and the road to the Wilbrahams. We left Cambridge in daylight (Gareth spotted a heron flying above the river on Stourbridge Common) but by the time we had reached Dullingham it was quite dark.

As has been the case in recent weeks the speed was high, with Gareth leading at a rapid pace and with Chris and me behind, with me occasionally taking a turn at the front when I felt a surge of energy.

Because of the high speeds we reached Great Wilbraham rather earlier than planned, at about 8.15pm. After a pleasant drink we got back on our bikes for the short ride back to Cambridge via Fulbourn and Cherry Hinton. I arrived back home at 9.20pm, having cycled 35 miles.

Download GPS track (GPX).

Club cycling holiday in Derbyshire

Mike writes: Earlier this month I joined several club members on a cycling holiday in the southern Peak District organised by Adrian and Eva. We were based in a converted Stable block in Somersal Herbert near Uttoxeter. The conversion was very good and we had every facility. The location has awe-inspiring views of the surrounding country side.

Andy, Jim, Tom, Jim, Adrian, Averil, Mike C, Doug, Greta, Eva, Mike S and Liz

There were fourteen of us at the start, but three had to return home early. We were of varied ability so we separated out into groups to visit various locations in the district. The hardriders got as far as Cannock Chase in the south and Buxton in the north. We all visited Ashbourne and went throught the railway tunnel. Other highlights were a visit to the Churnet Valley Railway and a walk around Hartington. Several riders tackled the High Peak, Tissington and Monsal Trails tunnels and all. The hardest rides were in the White Peak in places like Dovedale which is magnificent. There are a lot of hills some of which are up to Adrian's standard.

The stables with Andy, Jim, Ed and Mike C with Tom fixing his new wheel

The weather was just perfect. We had just one short light shower on the first day before the sun broke through. Then everyday was the same starting with a misty morning followed by glorious sunshine. The temperature was just right and there was little or no wind. It was a cyclist's heaven.

Dove Dale

Our evenings were equally good. We visited the local hostelrys in Sudbury and Doveridge. The Pub in Sudbury was the Vernon arms said to be the first building completed when Lord Vernon forcibly moved the existing village in 1671. In Doveridge we went to the Cavendish which was equally good but struggled a bit when we presented them with 14 diners on the first evening. The landlady was a great sport and the food was both cheap and excellent.

We had no major incidents except the great flood of Somersal. We returned to our room after dinner on the first night to find water dripping from our ceiling. It took a while to get help and locate the problem. It turned out the one of the upstairs rooms had a shower with tiling along the side of the bath. The tiling had cracked and was not properly sealed so it let water through. The landlord fixed it next morning and fortunately the ceiling did not fall down overnight.

I, and everyone else, would like to thank Eva for the perfect organisation and choice of location. Also thanks are due to the ladies who provided homemade cakes and jam for the troops. We even had a Birthday complete with cake for Jim. On another day Eva brought back two Bakewell Tarts one the traditional variety and one of the new type with icing as shown in the picture.

A modern Bakewell tart

A traditional bakewell tart

Jim, Eva, Doug, Jim B, Liz B, Greta and Mike C

I have lots more pictures and videos of the trains at Froghall. If anyone wants a copy just let me know. Mike Stapleton

The Hall at Somersal Herbert

Street scene in Ashbourne

Pub sign in Ashbourne

Digmire Lane

Thorpe Cloud

River Manifold

Sudbury Hall

Somersal Herbert

Somersal Herbert Church

Somersal Herbert Church with Adrian at the font

Froghall station

The Polish engine

Alston station

Wartime poster

View from stables

View from stables