It was snowing when I rode across Cambridge to Brookside for the start of today's all-day ride. It wasn't settling, but it was definitely snowing. So I wasn't that surprised to find that only four others waiting at the start: Tom (our leader), Alasdair, Mick and Brian. We set off along Barton Road for Comberton; it soon stopped snowing but it remained dull and damp and there was a coating of slush on the road.
At Comberton we turned left into South Street which took us down to the A603. We crossed over and continued through Harlton to Haslingfield. We climbed Chapel Hill and dropped down into Barrington, where we turned right for Orwell and the road to Malton. At Malton Golf Club we stopped for coffee.
I think Malton Golf Club is one of my favourite coffee stops, one where we always seem to get a friendly welcome from the staff. There's a full menu of food and drink; Alasdair chose a bacon baguette whilst I ordered a toasted teacake, which we ate whilst I browsed the Sunday papers.
After coffee Brian headed home whilst the rest of us we continued west via Meldreth and Kneesworth. At Bassingbourn we split into two: Mick continued to Litlington and the shortest route to Lunch whilst the rest of us turned right for a longer route via Shingay, Guilden Morden and Ashwell. At about 1pm exactly we arrived at Farrowby Farm just west of Hinxworth where we found Mick and another Brian (Brian from Bedfordshire, on his tricycle) already well into their lunch.
The food at Farrowby Farm is entirely satisfactory. I enjoyed a hearty cassoulet for £5.95, followed by cake and custard.
As we sat eating our lunch the weather brightened up and by the time we were ready to move on the sun had come out. After lunch we went our various ways. Tom, Mick and I were ready to head home but not directly, so Mick suggested we return to Hinxworth and then turned west over the A1 to Langford before turning north through Broom and Old Warden to Moggerhanger. Just north of Moggerhanger we turned east onto the former railway route which now forms National Cycle Route 51. (Note the typically useless signs in the photo below).
By now the sky had cleared, the sun was shining brightly and it was really a very nice afternoon.
Soon we reached Sandy. From there we continued east through Everton towards Waresley. This was the designated afternoon tea stop. We hadn't intended to stop here but by the time we passed the Garden Centre there it was approaching 4pm, the planned tea time. By now I was tiring somewhat, and so was Ian, so we decided to stop for a cup of tea. Mick, demonstrating the remarkable cycling stamina for which he is renowned, said his goodbyes and continued on home without stopping.
At the Waresley Park Garden Centre we met the afternoon ride: Gareth, Chris, Ian D, Mike K. Mike Sl had been out earlier but had retired after sustaining a puncture.
We finished tea at about 4.30pm. The sun was low in the sky but still shining brightly. The afternoon ride had only done about 20 miles so Gareth suggested a circuitous route home. Tom and Ian decided to take the direct route, leaving Gareth, Mike K, Chris and me to ride along the lovely road to Lily Hill before returning south to Gamlingay.
From Gamlingay we continued through the Hatleys and down Croydon Hill to Arrington.
With the sky now darkening we rode past Wimpole Hall and then back to Cambridge along the usual route via Orwell and Barrington. A second crossing of Chapel Hill took us to Haslingfield, where Chris turned right on his way home to Sawston. This left Gareth, Mike K and me heading back to Barton. Mike was suffering a slow puncture and was stopping periodically to add a bit more air. Somewhere along the road to Barton he and Gareth must have stopped, because by the time I reached Barton I was alone. It was now completely dark. The sky was clear and the stars were clearly visible. In consequence it was also getting quite cold, so I continued to Cambridge on my own, arriving home at about 7pm. My mileage was 84 miles, my longest this year, on a remarkable day that started with snow but ended with clear skies and bright sunshine. Not bad for February!
View this route (partly but not all a GPS track) on a larger map