Sunday, 4 July 2010

4 Jul: Day ride to Stradishall, Lavenham and Helions Bumpstead

On a hot, July day, it was a surprise to find only Averil, Joseph and Pete H at Brookside. Since morning coffee was to be in Stradishall, nearly 20 miles away, we took a fairly direct route there. We headed south-east out of Cambridge along Hills Road to Addenbrooke's where we turned left onto Wort's Causeway, which took us over the Gogs to Fulbourn. Here we found, quite by chance, John and Greta resting beside the road. They were doing a short ride of their own. We chatted pleasantly for five minutes before continuing on our way. We rode via The Wilbrahams to Six Mile Bottom and the long hill up to Brinkley. The temperature was very warm, the sky was clear with bright sunshine, and there was a slight, cool, breeze. Wonderful weather for cycling.

At Brinkley Pete H left us and headed home. The rest of us continued via Great Bradley and Cowlinge to Stradishall, where we stopped for morning coffee in Tubby T's cafe. Here we found Adrian, Vic, Mick C and John T. However only Adrian was interested in continuing to lunch, so after we finished coffee the two of us set off east on our own.

Our route to lunch took us through a succession of pleasant villages: Denston (the one with the huge church), Hawkedon (the one with the church in the middle of a green) and Somerton (the one on the hill). Then we reached Hartest. That's the one with the hill. Although I'd passed through here several times on previous rides, I had never cycled up Hartest Hill before. This is shown as a "<" on the OS map. However, although this is relatively steep, it is very short, and we were soon at the top. We continued east through Shrimpling and Bridge Street to Lavenham. Here I had planned to turn south to our designated lunch stop at Wally's Cafe on the Acton Place industrial estate. However since the weather was so lovely I suggested to Adrian that we had an outdoor picnic instead, so we bought some sandwiches in the Co-op (which was virtually the only useful shop in a village full of twee antique and postcard shops) and ate them in the Market Square, outside the historic Guildhall.
After lunch we turned south-west towards Acton and then west to Newman's Green and Rodbridge Corner. Here we joined "The Valley Walk", which despite the name is a joint cycle/pedestrian patch (part of NCR 13) which runs for a couple of miles on the western edge of Sudbury. This is a typical railway path with a reasonable gravel surface, and like many such paths was almost entirely enclosed by trees.

We were soon at the end of the path. After briefly investigating a cafe that Adrian knew in a nearby industrial estate (it was closed) we turned west. This took us into a headwind which we hadn't really noticed before. Our route was fairly direct, through Bulmer, Gestingthorpe and Little Yeldham, but was quite undulating and I was finding the combination of the afternoon heat, the headwind, and a heavier bike than usual was taking its toll, and when we reached Great Yeldham we were both ready to stop for ice creams.

From Great Yeldham we took a direct route to tea at Helions Bumpstead. Although we had time for a longer route we were happy to take our time, and even stopped at a village fete in Stambourne. Unfortunately the brass band finished playing just as we arrived and was replaced by a display of line-dancing to recorded country music. We quickly finished our tea and continued on our way.

We arrived at The Three Horseshoes at Helions Bumpstead at about 4.40pm and sat in the sunshine waiting for the others to arrive. In due course, Steve G arrived, on his own as usual, and then the afternoon ride, led by Mike K and with an entourage of nine others. So there was a total of thirteen at tea. The food, as usual here, was plentiful and excellent, with some of the best sandwiches and cakes of any of our regular stops. I was particularly impressed with the sandwiches that contained a thick piece of brie, a rasher of bacon, and a little cranberry jelly. Delicious.

After tea we all headed home, along the familar route via Bartlow and Linton to Abington, where most of the group, led by Jacob, took the off-road footbridge route to Babraham. Alison and I, trailing at the back, used the A1307 instead, which allowed us to catch up with them at Babraham. We parted company almost immediately, with Jacob leading the main group along the footpath to Stapleford, and Alison and I sticking to the road via Sawston. Again, our two groups met up at Stapleford. From there we all headed into Cambridge; I was home by 7.20pm, having cycled 84 miles.

View this GPS track on a larger map

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