Sunday, 22 August 2010

22 Aug: Afternoon ride to Royston

After several weeks of relatively cool weather it came as something of a surprise to be reminded that it was still August, with a day that was hot, humid and sunny. I was the leader this afternoon. With a relatively long route in mind, I wanted to get out of Cambridge as quickly as possible and so led the group along the direct route to Trumpington and Great Shelford. There we took the familar right turn to Little Shelford and the road to Whittlesford and Duxford.

At Duxford we turned west onto Grange Road, which took us past Duxford Grange to Chrishall Grange.

From Chrishall Grange we continued south and climbed the hill to Heydon.

A mile beyond Heydon we reached Great Chishill, which, as I never tire of reminding the other riders, is the highest village in Cambridgeshire. (The highest point in the county is just to the east, at an elevation of 146m (480 feet).

From here our route inevitably led downhill, on the narrow road that drops down, in a series of delightfully fast switchbacks, down, up and then down again to Shaftenhoe End.

At Shaftenhoe End we turned left towards Nuthampsted on a narrow road which took us gently upwards again through woodland up to Nuthampsted and then down again towards Barkway. As an aircraft flew over high above us I was reminded that this charming countryside was once short-listed as a possible location for London's third airport. (The Roskill commmission in the late 1960's considered a shortlist of four locations: Nuthampstead, Cublington in Oxfordshire, Foulness on the Essex coast and Stansted. They recommended Cublington, though of course in the end we got Stansted.)

At Barkway we crossed the B1398 and continued west to Buckland, where we crossed the A10. As we rode along, the intimate wooded landscape of Nuthampsted gradually turned into wide open praries, with farm machinery busily gathering in the harvest.

This is relatively high country: when we reached Therfield our altitude was about 168m, making this the highest point of the ride. (This was Hertfordshire, of course.)

With all that altitude in the bank it was a delight to be able to squander it on the descent to Royston (altitude 60m), and especially in a fast, steep descent across Royston Heath.

In Royston we stopped for tea at Tina's house. There we found Gareth and several riders from the day ride, and a number of others who had ridden there directly. We sat outside in the garden enjoying tea, sandwiches and a splendid spread of cakes.

After tea we returned to Cambridge via Kneesworth, Meldreth, Shepreth annd Barrington. With the wind behind us we made fast progress, and we were back at Brookside by 7pm after cycling 46 miles.

View this GPS track on a larger map

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