Sunday, 18 September 2011

18 Sep: Day ride to St Neots, Bedford and Gamlingay

Nigel writes: Today started clear and sunny, with a cool crispness in the air: a perfect early Autumn morning. Waiting at Brookside I found Jerry, Jacob, Averil, John F and Jim, our leader for today. Jim briefly explained the route he had planned for today, and then we were off.

Our route took us right through the centre of Cambridge, along King's Parade and left down Senate House Passage. As we rode along we passed numerous race marshalls gettting ready for the Chariots of Fire relay race. Fortunately the event had not yet started, so we made easy progress.

We turned onto Trinity Lane and then onto Garret Hostel Lane, which took us over the river and west out of the city centre.

Soon we were on the Coton path and out of the city. By now we were all warmed up and with the sky completely clear of clouds we remarked how glorious the weather was.

From Coton we continued to Madingley and Dry Drayton before turning south towards Hardwick. There we joined the old A428 (is there a better name for this road?) for about a mile before turning off south to Highfields and Caldecote. Here we picked up the B1046 but soon turned off to Bourn, Caxton and Great Gransden, where we turned onto the lovely little lane to Waresley. This is quite a litany of place names but in fact I paid little attention to the route as I rode along, engrossed in conversation with Jim and the other riders. The first hour or two of any day ride is always very chatty and today was no exception.

At Waresley we turned onto yet another lovely little lane: the road over Lily Hill which leads ultimately to St Neots. There we stopped for coffee at the Market Cafe in the Market Place in the middle of the town. Already sitting in the sun outside the cafe we found Greta, Rupert and about half a dozen others from the club.

After coffee the majority of the enlarged group set off back in the direction of Cambridge, leaving a small group of Jim, Tony P, David W, Averil, Mike S, Doug and me to continue on to lunch in Bedford. The route west from St Neots is always very nice, involving a quiet road under the A1 that leads to Duloe.

From Duloe we continued to Staploe and then along a short loop along tiny lanes to the south through Honeydon and Rootham's Green before turning back north to Bushmead Cross.

We turned west towards Bolnhurst, crossed over the B660 and along a mile or two of farm track between Mount Pleasant and Greensbury Farm.

At Greensbury Farm we rejoined the tarmac, which on this occasion took us along a graceful avenue of trees.

It was now time to head south to Bedford for lunch. We continued south, crossed back over the B660 at Ravensden and then into Bedford along a series of minor roads. By now the sky had clouded over and we had a few minutes of rain, but it didn't amount to much and the usual tactic of donning full waterproofs had the desired effect and the rain soon stopped.

At about 1.20pm we arrived at the Priory Marina pub, where we stopped for lunch. Already sitting outside we found Mike S and Doug, who had taken a more direct route, as well as Chris who had cycled independently from Sawston to rendezvous with us. After a while Bob and Myrtle turned up - they had come directly from Royston. There had been some concern about whether this pub was a suitable place for lunch: it seemed OK to me, with quite nice food but no cheap options at weekends. However it didn't have much character: despite its location beside a lake, there was no view of water or parkland from our tables outside, and we might as well have been anywhere. As we sat eating our lunch, the drizzle returned but we were able to stay dry under our umbrellas.

After lunch, with the drizzle now passed, we rode south past the lake and through the country park.

We continued south-east to Cardington and rode past the huge airship hangars at Cardington.

A few miles further on we reached Old Warden, where there was a huge steam rally in the grounds of the house. We then turned north-east to Moggerhanger and Blunham where we joined the NCR 51 railway path which we followed for about a mile to Sandy. From Sandy we climbed up through Everton Woods to Everton and at about 4.20pm arrived in Gamlingay. By now I was getting tired and ready for a cup of tea at The Cock, our planned tea stop. I was the only one in our small group to do so, and everyone else carried on straight past the pub and headed home.

In the pub I found Mike S. We had a pleasant chat whilst we waited for the afternoon ride to arrive. They were rather late, so when Conrad and the other riders eventually arrived at 4.50pm I was gasping for a cuppa. Fortunately the landlord at this popular tea stop knows how to look after us, and when tea eventually arrived there was plenty of it. There was thirteen in total at tea, a welcome return to normal numbers after last week's disappointing turnout.

After tea we all returned back to Cambridge. We had a bit of a tailwind, and although I was now getting rather tired, I was able to make rapid progress.

Our route home took us through the Hatleys, down Croydon Hill and then through Croydon and Arrington to the back gate of Wimpole Hall. We ride through the grounds, past the front of the house, and out through the front entrance. From here we took the familiar route back via Orwell, Barrington, Haslingfield and Barton back to Cambridge. I arrived home just after 7.10pm, having cycled a very satisfying 88 miles.

View this GPS track on a larger map

1 comment:

  1. is there a better name for this road?

    It's "St Neots Road" on Google Maps.