Today was another warm and sunny day in the mini-heatwave we have been enjoying for a week or two (and which the forecasters tell us will end soon). So it was no surprise to see a good turnout at Brookside this afternoon: nine riders in all, including at least one (very welcome) new face.
Ian led us west out of Cambridge to Barton. The Barton Road cycle track seemed busier than usual, with quite a few family groups out (like us) for an afternoon ride. At Barton we took the road to Haslingfield and then turned right to Harlton.
We continued through Harlton to the Eversdens and Kingston, and then on to Bourn where we turned into Caxton End, a little lane famous for having no fewer then three fords along it. One ford was dry; the other two were wet but shallow and straightforward to cycle through.
We continued through Caxton to Great Gransden. There Ian contemplated his options and the amount of time available, and decided to take us on a lovely little loop via Waresley and Abbotsley before steering a course north towards Croxton and our ultimate destination.
After crossing the A428 at Croxton we continued north to Graveley in between huge open fields of bright yellow oilseed rape. Beyond Graveley we turned towards Hilton and Fenstanton, and the landscape changed slightly: the fields turned green again and the road became bordered by lines of trees that cast lovely shadows from the warm afternoon sun. We were all enjoying what was turning out to be a excellent afternoon's cycling, in almost perfect conditions.
Eventually, at 5pm exactly, we arrived at Connington and the White Swan where we met a handful of riders from the day ride, plus George and Peter who had come directly. We went inside and, as usual here, a splendid feast was waiting for us.
We filled our plates with as much food as they could carry and then returned back outside to eat it in the sunshine.
After tea we split into separate groups as usual. I led a group of four on a fairly direct, but partially off-road, route back to Cambridge. We cycled along the road to Boxworth where we turned off along a bridleway that took us to Lolworth. This was bumpy in places but dry and not too difficult enough to ride along, so long as you were prepared to go slowly. And of course riding across the middle of fields was delightfully peaceful.
At Lolworth we rode through the isolated little village and then went off-road once again, taking the footpath to Bar Hill. Signs explain that cycling along this public footpath is allowed by "local cyclists" only. Well, we're from Cambridge. That's local. The path is loose gravel and quite tricky to cycle along: you get the feeling that one mistake could bring you off.
It was a relief to arrive at Bar Hill. (That's not a sentence you'll read very often). We rode along the boundary road to the other side of the village where we went off-road yet again, taking the bridle path to Dry Drayton. This has a proper surface suitable for cycling, and a series of pinch stiles to discourage motor cycles was only a minor inconvenience.
After Dry Drayton it was back on the road to Madingley and then past the American Cemetery to Coton, where we joined to Coton path into Cambridge.
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(Compare this with our previous ride to Connington on 15th March)
I was back in Cambridge just before 7pm. It was still sunny and warm. And it's still only April. Total distance: 47 miles.