Sunday, 17 April 2011

17 Apr: Day ride to Waresley, Old Warden and Caxton

Nigel writes: I only intended to join the ride for the morning, but I ended staying all day. The day started cool and cloudy: there was a "white sky", someone said, referring to a bright sky with 100% cloud cover. At Brookside I found about eight other riders waiting to ride to coffee at Waresley. Averil was our leader today, and she led us south-west out of Cambridge along the A603 Barton Road cycle track to Barton, where we turned left to Haslingfield.

At Haslingfield we turned right towards Harlton, crossed back over the A603 and continued through the Eversdens to Kingston. By now the sky had partially cleared, and with the sun showing through the temperature rose noticeably. I stoppped to remove my windproof jacket.

Just beyond Kingston we joined the B1046 which we followed through Longstowe to Little and Great Gransden. There we turned left onto the lovely litle lane that leads to Waresley.

Just after 10.30am we arrived in Waresley, where we stopped at the Garden Centre. Several members were already there drinking coffee.

Waresley Park Garden Centre is one of our favourite pleaces to stop. It's quite a small place, is located in a pleasant little village (with a distinctive church), the food is good quality (even if the service can be a little slow at times) and the cafe has a very pleasant patio area, where today we sat for about 45 minutes chatting and relaxing.

After coffee a few people left the group to return to Cambridge leaving the majority to continue on to lunch at Old Warden. Averil led us west to Gamlingay Heath, where we crossed into Bedfordshire.

A few minutes later we reached Everton and descended Everton Hill. In an area which is generally almost completely flat, this short, steep hill comes as quite a surprise. There were riders in front of me during the descent so I couldn't "let go", but I still reached 35mph easily.

We crossed the A1 at Tempsford and turned south through Blunham and Moggerhanger and past Sheerhatch Wood (which was carpeted with thousands of bluebells). We continued through several more villages, and along a series of pleasant wooded lanes, until we reached the Shuttleworth Collection airfield near Old Warden.

The restaurant at the Shuttleworth Collection was very busy, and although there is a wide choice of reasonable food I can't say that I am a great fan of this place. After finishing our lunch we went back outside and watched the planes for a few minutes. One small plane landed, the two occupants got onto folding bikes, and they rode off.

We, too, rode off a few minutes later. We were now a group of about twelve. Averil led us south to Clifton and Henlow where we turned east to cross the A1 at Edworth. Here Rupert and Cathy left us to ride home via Ashwell and Kneesworth. I continued with Averil and the main group, riding north once again through Dunton to Wrestlingworth. Here we turned off the main road onto a very quiet lane that took us to the tiny village of Cockayne Hatley. This hardly counts as a village at all, consisting of little more than a church, a farm, and a few of houses. We continued north on the bridleway through Cockayne Hatley woods.

After rejoining the road we continued on to Little Gransden, where we took a diversion to see the windmill.

We reached Caxton just after 4pm, meeting David S and Steve G on the way. Tea at the Cross Keys was at 4.30pm, but when we arrived the pub George and Peter were already sitting outside.

Just before 4.30pm about half the afternoon ride arrived and we went inside to have tea. This pub is a favourite of ours, partly because the landlord is clearly pleased to see us but mainly because there is always plenty of food available. Today was no exception, so it was not a problem that Bob and the second half of the afternoon ride didn't arrive until 5pm. There were about 20 of us in total at tea, but we still left lots of food uneaten. It was nice to see several unfamiliar faces on the afternoon ride.

After tea we all returned back to Cambridge via Bourn, Toft, Comberton and Barton. After riding with the main group for several miles I then broke away from the front, chasing Conrad who set a brisk pace all the way back to Cambridge. I was back home by 6.15pm, after having cycled 72 miles.

View this GPS track on a larger map

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