Sunday, 15 January 2012

15 Jan: All-day ride to Saffron Walden, Thaxted and Ickleton

Nigel writes: Today was forecast to be cloudy with occasional sunshine, and relatively cold, and so it turned out. I arrived at Brookside to find a good turnout of nine other riders for today's all-day ride. Adrian was our leader today, so I knew were in for an interesting and well-planned day. Adrian led us south out of Cambridge along Trumpington Road to Trumpington.

In Trumpington we turned onto the road to Great Shelford from where we continued to Sawston. As we passed through Great Shelford we were joined by Mick C.

In Sawston we turned left to Babraham and the farm track that leads to the foorbridge over the A11.

When we reached Great Abington we normally cross over the A1307 to Hilderham and take the back road to Linton. However on this occasion we stayed on the A1307 to Linton. This is a fast, busy road but fortunately there is a pavement cycleway, which is bumpy and narrow but perfectly usable.

In Linton we re-joined the road and turned right onto the B1062 which took us through Hadstock and Little Walden to Saffron Walden, where we stopped for coffee at The Temeraire.

Already waiting at the pub were Joseph, John S, Edward E, Phil and Linda. We spent about half an hour at the pub, drinking coffee and having a very sociable chat.

After coffee we said goodbye to Eva, Lynn and Edward, whilst Joseph, Phil and Linda joined us for the ride on to our lunch stop in Thaxted.

Since Thaxted is only eight miles from Saffron Walden we didn't head straight there but instead Adrian took us on a very pleasant loop along quiet lanes to the east via Radwinter and Great Samford.

Before long we arrived in Thaxted where we stopped for lunch at the Swan Hotel.

This was my first visit to the Swan Hotel. This is a large food-oriented pub (with rooms), and although quite busy was large enough for be able to eat together on adjacent tables, which was nice. The Sunday menu was geared towards full meals at around £9-10, and my own Chicken and Mushroom Pie was perfectly pleasant, though I suspect some of us would have preferred it if some smaller options had been available.

After our leisurely lunch we had about 70 minutes to ride to our 3.30pm tea stop in Ickleton. Adrian took a direct route via Debden and Saffron Walden. I thought that passing through Saffron Walden would give a confusing GPS track, so I decided to take a slightly longer route to the west via Newport and Arkesden. Phil joined me, and set an enjoyably fast pace for this short but hilly section.

We arrived at the cafe at Ickleton just after 3.30pm, only a short time after the main group. Also at the cafe was Julia and the afternoon ride, and between us we filled the cafe.

After coffee and cakes we turned on our lights for the ride back to Cambridge via Duxford and Whittlesford. The afternoon riders set a brisk pace, and I was home by 5.15pm, having cycled 64 miles.

View this GPS track on a larger map

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