Sunday, 25 September 2011

25 Sep: Day ride to Nuthampstead, Green Tye and Royston

Nigel writes: Today turned out to be one of my best rides of the year. Despite the fact that it's now officially Autumn, today started warm and sunny, and was to remain warm and sunny all day despite a steady breeze from the south-west. I arrived at Brookside to find plenty of others ready to enjoy the sunshine: Julia, Ian, Lynne, Peter H, Jackie, Joseph, Averil, Adrian, Gareth, Tony and me.

Tony was our leader today, and led us south to Addenbrooke's, where we turned south onto the new Francis Crick Avenue.

We then left the road and joined the DNA path to Great Shelford.

From Great Shelford we followed the familar route through Little Shelford and then south to Whittlesford and across the A505 to Duxford. We continued to Ickleton where we left the completely flat Cam valley and started the long climb up to Elmdon.

After Elmdon we continued to climb, first to Heydon and then to Great Chishill at a dizzy altitude of 148m compared with 21m in Whittlesford.

Having attained the highest village in Cambridgeshire the only way was down, in this case to Shaftenhoe End where we turned left towards Nuthampstead. The final few miles were absolutely gorgeous: quiet narrow lanes weaving through the woods, with the sun casting dappled shadows across the road.

When we got to Nuthampstead we stopped for coffee at The Woodman. Waiting on the grass in front of the pub we found a group of members who had ridden there directly, including Greta, Doug, David, Stuart and Mick.

This pub has become a regular coffee stop but this was my first visit. We were the only customers, but once they realised we had arrived the staff seemed welcoming enough. We ordered coffee and asked for biscuits, which rather bemused them but a packet of hobnobs was soon obtained. We sat outside in the sunshine enjoying its lovely quiet location.

After coffee, as usual, several members headed back to Cambridge, leaving a slightly different group to continue on to lunch in Green Tye. Gareth, who had taken a longer route to coffee, announced that he was going to take a longer route to lunch as well, and I decided to join him. Stuart came with us as well. Gareth set off at a rapid pace, and despite quite a strong headwind from the south-west the three of us took the twenty miles to lunch at quite a rate.

Gareth led us to Anstey and through all the Pelhams: Brent, Stocking and Furneaux before turning east for a loop via Manuden and then south and back west to Little Hadham. We crossed the A120 and continued south to Much Hadham, where we turned left onto a narrow lane down to a ford. This was shallow and clear so we rode across confidently.

After the ford, a short climb brought us to Perry Green and then to Green Tye, where we stopped for lunch at the Prince of Wales. The rest of the group was already there eating lunch.

After lunch the group split yet again, with several riders heading off on their own leaving Gareth, Tony and me to continue on to tea in Royston.

We'd had quite a leisurely lunch so we took a fairly straighforward route to Royston. We set off more or less directly west. This took us to Barwick where we encountered our second ford of the day. This was rather deeper and longer than the earlier ford at Much Hadham, and only Gareth dared to ride through.

After safely navigating the ford we continued west, under the A10 and on to Dane End where we turned north. We continued through Haultwick, Ardeley, Cromer, Rushden, Sandon, Kelshall and Thirfield, finishing with a very fast tailwind-assisted descent down to Royston. We arrived for tea at Tina's house exactly on time at 4.30pm. Together with a well-attended afternoon ride there were 22 of us in total.

We sat in Tina's garden drinking tea, eating excellent sandwiches and sampling delicious cakes.

After tea we all returned back to Cambridge. We set off north along the A1198 which we followed as far as Kneesworth. There we turned right to Meldreth. With a strong tailwind supporting us, the whole large group made rapid progress but when Gareth came past at speed somewhere beyond Kneesworth I decided to chase him. We picked up Steve for a while, who generously gave us a tow through Meldreth and Shepreth before dropping back on the road to Barrington. Gareth and I carried on over Chapel Hill to Haslingfield and, with the tailwind allowing us to ride surprisingly rapidly for such a late stage in the ride, on to Barton where we joined the Barton Road cycleway back to Cambridge.

I was home just before 6.30pm, having cycled a very enjoyable 86 miles.

Photo 6 by Gareth Rees.

View this GPS track (purple line only) on a larger map

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