Another hot August afternoon brought out seven riders at Brookside for our ride to Balsham. It was my turn to lead the group. We took what is probably the most relaxing route out of Cambridge - across Parker's Piece, along Clarendon Street to Midsummer Common and along the river to Stourbridge Common, where cattle was reclining alarmingly close to the path. After crossing Ditton Meadows we turned onto the Wadloes path to Fen Ditton from where we took High Ditch Road to Quy church. As we rode along we noticed that despite the warm weather it was quite breezy, with a blustery wind from the south.
After following the cycle track along the A1303 for a mile we turned right onto the long straight road that leads to Six Mile Bottom. After a couple of miles Jacob left the group for an off-road detour whilst the rest of us continued to Six Mile Bottom where we turned left onto the main A1304. We followed this for a mile (it's wide and not very busy) before turning right onto the unsurfaced road that leads to the level crossing at Westley Bottom.
After waiting at the crossing for a minute or two Jacob rejoined us and we continued along the lovely narrow lane on the other side that leads gradually up to Westley Bottom, with only a short interruption along the way for Simon F to fix a puncture.
After a short while we were in Brinkey and the road to Carlton. We were heading south now and into the direct force of the wind.
After passing through Carlton we turned left at Carlton Green onto the narrow lane that took us to Little Thurlow. After riding the short distance from Little Thurlow to Great Thurlow we turned right onto the road to Withersfield. This is a short climb followed by a steep descent into the village. Another right turn took us onto the road towards West Wratting. This is another short climb that takes you up onto the plateau that was once the site of a wartime airfield. At the crossroads in the middle of the plateau we turned left to West Wickham and a short final descent and ascent to Balsham where we stopped for tea at The Bell.
Waiting at the pub were George, Peter and Steve who had ridden there directly. After a while Averil, Tom and Mike from the day ride arrived and we enjoyed another substantial tea, with plates laden with well-made sandwiches and a huge array of cakes and biscuits.
After tea, and with only ten miles back to Cambridge, there seemed to be no urge to hurry home and so five of us took a longer route back to allow us to enjoy the gorgeous early evening sunshine. At Mike K's suggestion we took a route north to West Wratting and then left onto the minor road that took us past the woodland cemetery to Dullingham. Then left over the level crossing and the long road past the Polo ground to Swaffham Bulbeck. From there we followed the familiar NCR51 route back into Cambridge. This took is through Bottisham, past Quy Church again, through the Park and Ride site, across Ditton Meadows and finally along the river into the city centre. I was home by about 7.45pm, after riding 48 miles on this lovely hot, sunny and breezy day.
View this part-GPS, part-manually-constructed track on a larger map