Sunday, 3 July 2011

3 Jul: Day ride to Haverhill, Cavendish and West Wratting

Nigel writes: We awoke to another warm, sunny summer's day, so when I arrived at Brookside for today's all-day ride I was not surprised to find a large group waiting: Pete, Carol, Averil, Brian, Neil, Tony, Rupert, Bob and John S our leader.

The ten of us set off south out of Cambridge down Trumpington Road to Addenbrooke's.

At Addenbrooke's we joined the DNA path to Great Shelford and then continued south, following NCR 11 through Stapleford and then alongside the A1301 to Sawston.

In Sawston we turned left towards Babraham. This quiet country lane has a rather nice cycle path alongside it, which allowed us to enjoy the plentiful poppies still in full bloom alongside the edge of the path.

When we reached Babraham we turned right onto the farm road and unsurfaced path that leads to the footbridge over the A11 that leads to Abington.

In Abington, just after we had turned into Bourn Bridge Road, Averil diverted the group onto a side road to show us the rather interesting giraffe sculpture in a nearby garden.

We crossed over the A1307 onto Hildersham Road and continued to Linton. We then crossed back over the A1307 to Bartlow and The Camps. I always get a bit confused by The Camps, but John confidently took us through Shudy Camps and on eastwards, over the A1307 yet again, into Haverhill.

In Haverhill Pete and Carol turned north on their way back to Cambridge, leaving the rest of us to stop for coffee at The Drabbet Smock. It was exactly 11am. Here we found Greta, Mick and Doug already drinking coffee. It was already quite a hot day, so I ordered a pint of orange juice and soda instead. In my experience the price of this drink varies wildly from pub to pub, so muttered to myself then I might not have enough change and searched in my wallet for a £10 note. The person serving heard me and reassured me "it won't cost much", and indeed it didn't (this is Wetherspoons after all): together with a chocolate brownie I paid £1.59.

After coffee we carried on east towards Cavendish where we were due to meet up on the village green with members of Suffolk CTC. John led us to Kedington and along some gorgeous narrow lanes to Stoke by Clare.

At Stoke by Clare we rode briefly along the A1092 before turning right to Ashen.

At a road junction a few miles further on the group divided into two, with Greta, Doug and Bob taking a direct route to Cavendish, leaving John leading the remainder of the group on an extra loop to the south through Belchamp St Paul, Belchamp Otter and Foxearth which brought us into Cavendish at about 1.30pm.

The club has ridden through Cavendish several times in recent years but this is the first time we have stopped for lunch for quite some time. This is a very handsome village with a large village green and numerous pubs and cafes nearby. Rather surprisingly it was very quiet (in contrast to, say, Finchingfield which is a similar honeypot village and which is always busy with visitors). We found Greta and the others already on the green with members of Suffolk CTC who had ridden there from Ipswich. Apparently they have three rides today: this was their "medium" ride.

After we had finished eating our sandwiches John and Rupert led a small group across the green to the Five Bells for a drink whilst I and a number of others found a cafe and ordered coffee and cake. Whilst I was drinking coffee, Adrian arrived.

After an enjoyable and relaxing lunch we carried on east to Glemsford before turning north-west for the long journey back to Cambridge. The road between Glemsford and Stansfield is one of my favourite: narrow and quiet but constantly varying.

We continued through Denston to Stradishall.

At Stradishall we turned onto the A143, which we followed for several miles (as usual, it wasn't busy), past Tubby T's cafe (by now closed) and Highpoint Prison before turning right onto quiet lanes once more to Little Thurlow, Carlton Green, Weston Colville and West Wratting.

By mid-afternoon on a day ride the main group has normally dwindled to a handful, with everyone else heading home by their own route. However today we were still quite a large group, probably because even for those not planning to visit the planned tea stop this was the most direct route back to Cambridge. But when we reached The Chestnut Tree in West Wratting, most of the group said goodbye and rode off, leaving just John, Neil, Tony and me to wait for the afternon riders for tea at 4.30pm.

Already at the pub were George and David, and soon Conrad arrived with the afternoon ride and about eight more, including some very welcome new (and old) faces.

We have had tea at this pub many times, but it appears to have changed hands since I last visited, and the pub appeared spruced up. Tea, however, was satisfactory (once we had realised that we were expected to order cups of tea at the bar). The cakes in particular were of fine quality and the cost of £4 perfectly acceptable.

After tea we headed back to Cambridge via a variety of different routes: via Balsham, via Six Mile Bottom, or via the Roman Road. I and three or four others returned via Lark Hall and Six Mile Bottom, a fast and exhilarating descent, and then via Little Wilbraham to Quy and Cambridge. I arrived home at 6pm exactly, after having cycled 76 miles.

View this GPS track on a larger map

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