Sunday, 6 September 2009

6 Sept: Afternoon ride to Royston

There were eight riders at Brookside for this afternoon's ride. Although it was cloudy and quite breezy it remained quite warm, as we would expect in early September. I led the group south out of Cambridge to Trumpington and Great Shelford where we turned right for Little Shelford and the road to Whittlesford.

Just north of Whittlesford we turned right and left onto the road that skirts the western edge of the village before meeting the A505 at the Hunts Road roundabout. Here we were about half a mile from the Imperial War Museum at Duxford and we could see from the growing number of roadside plane-spotters that there was an air show taking place there.

After crossing the A505 we continued along Hunts Road into Duxford, our necks swivelling as we admired the old planes flying low overhead. We then turned right onto Grange Road. This runs along the southern edge of the airfield and was closed to motor traffic for the afternoon. The first few hundred yards were lined with yet more plane-spotters but the rest of the road to Chrishall Grange was completely empty, with only the buzz of Spitfire aerobatics overhead disturbing the quiet.

At Chrishall Grange we turned left and began the gentle climb towards Chrishall, where we turned right to Heydon and Great Chishill.

The climb from Chrishall Grange towards Chrishall

Great Chishill is the highest point in the county (though not the highest point in the area), so the switchback descent from there to Shaftenhoe End was fast and fun.

The descent to Shaftenhoe End

At Shaftenhoe End we turned left to Nuthampstead. The road into Nuthampstead is always very pretty, undulating and pleasantly wooded. After passing through the village we continued towards Barkway, passing the Golf Club (a favourite morning coffee stop) on the way.

At Barkway we crossed the B1368 and climbed slowly up to Buckland, which was probably the highest point in our ride.

Resting at Buckland

After crossing the A10 at Buckland we turned north towards Therfield and after passing through the village enjoyed a steep and very fast descent across the heath to the western edge of Royston. A short ride into town along Baldock Road brought us to our tea stop at The Heath Sports Centre Cafe. There was a cricket match being played outside.

I hadn't been to the cafe here before and was unsure what to expect. I'm pleased to report that it was pretty good, though they soon ran out of cakes. As we walked in it felt more like a pub than a cafe so I was pleased to see a tray of cookies and cakes sitting on the bar. I ordered a large piece of carrot cake and a cup of coffee which cost a reasonable £3.00 and was nicely served on a tray with a separate jug of milk. Others ordered tea which was served in a pot (and which was later topped up with water free of charge). We went back outside to sit down and found Mike and Tom just arriving from the day ride. Steve arrived soon after, making a total of eleven at tea.

After tea we rode back to Cambridge in a single group. There are no quiet roads out of Royston towards Cambridge. The route I chose involved taking the A1198 to Kneesworth where we would turn right to Meldreth. This involves riding a couple of miles along a busy main road but it is wide and has excellent visibility and as a result posed no special difficulties apart from the big roundabout where it crosses the A505.

After turning right at Kneesworth we were on quiet roads again, and with the benefit of a tailwind we made short work of our journey back through Meldreth, Shepreth and Barrington. Then over the hill to Haslingfield before returning to Cambridge along the Barton Road. I was back home at 6.45pm after completing about 45 miles.

View this GPS track on a larger map

Photo 1 by Gareth Rees. Licence: Creative Commons CC-BY-SA v2.0


  1. Glad you guys had a good ride this afternoon - pity I couldn't do the route that took in 'hometown' Royston for tea! Away next weekend, but hope to join you all again after that. Have really enjoyed last few weeks' Sunday afternoon rides. Tina

  2. Ooh, nice route. It's really useful to have these for those of us who can't make the organised rides.