Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Rides in April

Warm spring weather and the change to summertime means that our April rides list contains even more rides than ever, with up to six rides a week.

On the Sunday all-day rides, look out for two rides away from the well-worn southern routes. On Easter Sunday we've opted for a picnic lunch in Clare country park (hoping for some good spring sunshine) and on 15 April we're taking a figure-of-eight route through the fens out to Ely and Welney. Meanwhile our shorter Sunday afternoon rides continue with some new tea stops.

Our Wednesday evening rides become weekly once more, with a pleasant ride in the evening sunshine combined with a short but sociable visit to a nearby pub.

Our regular Saturday morning introductory rides continue on the first and third Saturday of each month, and and our Senior Cyclists' Group continues with their regular Tuesday rides to a favourite lunch stop.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

29 Jan: Afternoon ride to Newnham

Peter writes: I arrived at Brookside to find just a handful of cold-looking people waiting, but suddenly on the dot of 1.30, several more appeared, to make a total of 12 riders, a very good turnout on a grey and cold afternoon. However, as was commented, there was no wind and no rain, so it was quite a pleasant cycling day.

I led the group out of Cambridge through Barton, to Haslingfield and over Chapel Hill. Here is Howard having a rest at the top while the rest of the group catch up.

From here we enjoyed the descent into Barrington, and along to Shepreth and Fowlmere. My time check indicated that we had time to follow my longer route option so we crossed the A505 to Great Chishill and Duxford before turning back towards Cambridge and tea, through Whittlesford, Little Shelford and Hauxton. As we came through Grantchester we could feel it getting colder, and while everyone seemed to have enjoyed the outing, we were all pleased to arrive at John and Carolyn Ferguson’s, where a wonderful tea and about another 10 members awaited us.

A huge thank you to John and Carolyn, who did us proud, with multiple different home made cakes (all delicious, I can report), sandwiches, sausage rolls and copious quantities of tea and coffee.

I arrived home at about 5.25, having cycled 30 miles from Brookside. Peter Hutchison

29 Jan: All-day ride to Waresley, Hinxworth and Newnham

Gareth writes: It was a gloomy morning: the temperature just one or two degrees, and one of those thick cold fogs that only the fens of Cambridgeshire can brew, with visibility down to a hundred metres or so. I thought that the turnout might be, shall we say, a trifle disappointing, but I should have had more faith: ten of us set out in the mist to Waresley, lights ablaze.

I planned a fairly long stage from coffee to lunch, so to balance things I took us direct to Waresley via Bourn, Caxton and the Gransdens, and we got to the garden centre at about 10:45. The fog was lifting slightly on the higher ground, to be replaced by a bitter wind.

After coffee we split up: some returned home, three headed directly for lunch via Potton, and I led the remaining seven west across the A1. Just west of Sandy, near Girtford Bridge, Steve stopped to show us the memorial to Frederick Bidlake (1867–1933), a notable time-triallist and an early vice-president of the Cyclists' Touring Club.

We passed through the picturesque villages of Hatch, Northill, Ickwell, and Old Warden. At Southill there is a pretty café that might make a good spot for lunch on future rides. Then Stanford, Clifton, Langford, and a long drag up the hill to the water tower that marks the bridge over the A1 near Edworth. I was cold and tired, and very glad to get to Farrowby Farm and a warm drink.

Conrad requested that this photo be included, which I believe shows Averil being savaged by the Beast of Farrowby Farm.

The fog was gone, but the air was still damp and bitterly cold. Somehow, everything seems twice as difficult in the winter! On the way back, we stopped at the former Steeple Morden airfield to look at the USAAF memorial.

Caroline and John did us proud, with a spread of sandwiches and cakes that even twenty cold and hungry cyclists could not finish. Many thanks!

Distance: about 65 miles.

View CTC day ride 2012-01-29 in a larger map

Thursday, 26 January 2012

26 Jan: Thursday ride to Horseheath and Dullingham

Edward writes: This Thursday it was the turn of Rupert to take the helm and lead us on our weekly jaunt into the countryside. At Hauxton eight cyclists met and the weather was true to the forecast; the rain overnight had abated and, although a little overcast, the promise was some sunny intervals and maybe a shower or two, and so it turned out.

We left Hauxton through Little Shelford and then on to Whittlesford where Mike B was waiting to join us at the lane that leads to the church and subsequently to the still newly built cycle path that leads to Sawston. We rode down Mill Lane, over the High Street and into Babraham Road and quickly on to the other new cycle path that leads to Babraham. We normally turn left at this point and go over the cycle bridge to Abington but Rupert needed to do some surveying of sorts. So on this occasion we turned right towards the A505, and this meant stopping to look at the route of the former railway which crosses here with a view, he hopes, of it becoming a cycle way. A little optimistic, I think.


When we left here we came to the A505 and went along it for half mile or so to the point where you can branch off to get to Abington via Pampisford station. Again we stopped for a little more survey work. We now got going in earnest and made our way to the A1307 and crossed it into Hildersham and then turning right to take the road into Linton. In Linton we went via the recreation ground and came out on the main road through the village and back up to the A1307. It was over this road and the climb up to Hadstock which was followed by Bartlow. It needs to be recorded here that we crossed the route of the former Cambridge to Haverhill railway line seven times to this point. It sounds like a competition to see who can devise a cycle ride that crosses a railway the most times - must be a closed railway, though. Putting things railway behind us we could now concentrate on the main business of the day, cycling.

Which way?

After leaving Bartlow we then headed for Shudy Camps and already the skies had cleared and we were starting to get bright sunshine. After Shudy Camps it was Mill Green and to a junction with a sign that points to Horseheath, but not apparently the road to take and this led to some differences of opinions as to which way to go, Some turned the way the sign had indicated but had to turn back as that would have led to some distance on the A1307, thus justifying the decision of our leader that the correct way was his way. Anyway, it was but a short distance to bring us to the ever-welcoming Old Red Lion Inn at Horseheath. This was about 11.30 and twenty miles so a coffee break was especially welcome.

Leaving Horsheath

We curtailed our break to half an hour and were on our way again by mid-day. We left Horsheath and took in Streetley End, where Mike B wheeled off and headed for home, and then on to West Wickham. This took us on to the open road which leads to Carlton, but we turned off before Carlton and headed for Weston Colville. In this village we met Ian D and he joined us for the rest of the day. Now followed the most delightful part of the journey. The sun was out and Rupert had devised a stunning route round some of the lesser roads and the countryside really looked wonderful. To help matters along the breeze, such as it was, was nearly always on our backs. This took us all too quickly to Dullingham and our lunch stop at The Boot where Eva was already waiting.

Weston Colville

Between Weston Colville and Dullingham

After lunch the weather took a turn for the worse. We took the road via Dullingham station to head for the A1304, but on our way down we ran into a hailstorm which, with the wind now in our faces, was stinging our faces and we endured an uncomfortable ride. It was soon over and we then took the road to Swaffham Bulbeck which, it's nice to report had daffodils out. After Swaffham Bulbeck we headed for Bottisham where the ride ended as some turned towards Cambridge and others went home via the Wilbrahams and Fulbourn. Our thanks to Rupert for a well thought-out route. To this point we covered 38 miles. Edward Elmer

View this route on a larger map

Sunday, 22 January 2012

22 Jan: Afternoon ride to Foxton

Tina writes: Ten riders gathered at Brookside for what promised to be a sunny but 'breezy' ride. Neil was our leader this afternoon and took us down side streets emerging from Bateman Street onto Hills Road. Just before the railway bridge we turned left through the new CB1 development to pick up the guided busway heading south to Trumpington. Here we had our first taste of the wind which we were to battle with for most of the afternoon, as it seemed to come from all directions, but never from behind!

We took several right turns to bring us on to the DNA path as far as the Shelfords and then followed the road towards Whittlesford where Mike K suggested a slight detour to view some snowdrops in the 'grounds' of one of the substantial houses. Normally one might not expect to see snowdrops peeking through for another couple of weeks, but recent mild weather has encouraged early flowering.

From Whittlesford, we rode south crossing the A505 to Duxford and then straight over the crossroads at Ickleton, which could only mean one thing ... Coploe Hill. After the steady climb, we paused to re-group at the top for a photo courtesy of Lynn's phone. Instead of continuing up to Catmere End, we took a right turn (into the wind and uphill!), then left to Elmdon and right just past the church onto the Heydon road. We turned right on to the 'main' road towards Chrishall Grange on what should have been a relaxing downward sweep, but a stiff headwind, forced us to pedal hard to maintain momentum. Our route continued northwards over the A505 to Fowlmere, where John left us to return home to Royston, leaving us to battle our way up the open road to Foxton.

With some relief we turned into Illingworth Way where Sue and her husband Dave gave us a warm welcome. Several day riders had already arrived and were tucking into hot soup and we joined them, making around 14 people for tea. Sue had done us proud with selection of sandwiches, nibbles, cakes, chocolate biscuits (made by daughter Rosie) and piece de resistance - a chocolate and vanilla cake with a bicycle stencilled in icing sugar on top! We sat chatting and enjoying a well-earned rest, finally setting off again at about 4.15pm. It was still light and the wind had dropped considerably, as I cycled home through Fowlmere and Melbourn leaving the main group to return via Barrington, over Chapel Hill to Haslingfield and on to Barton and Cambridge.

A huge thank you to Sue and family for hosting tea and also to Neil for planning an interesting and scenic route today. Tina Filby

Saturday, 21 January 2012

21 Jan: Ride to Boston and New York

Nigel writes: I was in Boston today with my bike and was stumped for something to do, so I decided to cycle to New York. Well, not quite. But it was the prospect of being able to make that boast that gave me an excuse for today's solo ride.

I got up early and cycled in the dark to Cambridge station to catch the 0735 train from Cambridge to King's Lynn. Somewhere around Littleport the sun rose and by the time I arrived in King's Lynn it was light.

My plan was to cycle west into Lincolnshire, which meant the first thing I needed to do was to cross the River Great Ouse. I did this using the on the old "free bridge" a mile south of the town, from where I rode round to West Lynn on the other side. I had heard that there was a ferry from there to King's Lynn so I went and had a look. Rather to my surprise it was in full operation with a handful of passengers waiting to pay 80p for the short crossing. It's a passenger ferry but it appears to take bikes if they have room. I might try this on another visit. I took some photos and have written a page of information here.

The ferry from King's Lynn arrives at West Lynn

My initial goal was to ride to Boston, about 45 miles away. I took a meandering route though the West Norfolk Fens to Sutton Bridge. It was quite dull with a few spots of drizzle now and then, though very mild. The main feature of meterological interest was a strong headwind from the north-west, which was to make my progress to Boston and beyond slow and plodding.

Very flat, Norfolk

I reached Sutton Bridge and crossed the River Nene, another wide commercial waterway.

River Nene at Sutton Bridge

A glance at any map of this area shows how it is disected by a series of wide, canalised rivers with few crossings, which severely constrains the route-planning options. So although I was able to turn north and follow a quiet route through the Lincolnshire Fens near the edge of The Wash, I eventually had to turn back inland to cross the River Welland at Fosdyke.

The Lincolnshire Fens seemed a bit more prosperous and more attractive than the Cambridgeshire or Norfolk Fens. I'm not sure why.

Lincolnshire Fens

One of the best rainbows I have seen for ages

There's an old Lincolnshire saying that at the end of every rainbow you'll find a pile of sugar beet


Eventually I arrived at Fosdyle where I crossed the River Welland.

River Welland at Fosdyke

From Fosdyke to Boston I followed NCR 1.


At about 12.15pm, and after 45 miles, I arrived in Boston.

River Witham in Boston town centre

Boston Stump (St Botolph's Church)

I didn't stop in Boston. Although I it was lunchtime I wanted to press on and achieve the goal of today's ride: New York. This is a tiny hamlet about ten miles to the north, and to get there I followed the first few miles of the Water Rail Way, a pleasant Sustrans route which runs along the bank of the River Witham.

NCR 1 north of Boston, with Boston Stump in the distance

A few more miles further on, I arrived at my destination: New York Village. There's nothing here except for a 40mph speed limit on the B1192 and a few houses: just enough signs to allow me to spend a ridiculous amount of time taking photos of myself to prove where I had been.

It was now about 2.15pm and I had ridden 55 miles. It was now time to turn south for the long ride back.

I didn't fancy riding back to King's Lynn as that would have forced me to retrace my route via the bridges at Fosdyke, Sutton Bridge and West Lynn. I therefore decided to take a more southerly route, crossing the River Welland at Spalding (the first available crossing south of Fosdyke) and crossing the River Nene at Wisbech (the first crossing south of Sutton Bridge).

Fortunately I now had a bit of a tailwind (though not much) and my speed increased. By the time I reached Spalding it was dark and I turned on my lights. By now I had got rather bored of the endless fenland landscapes and it was rather nice the way that the darkness made the landscape seem much more intimate: nothing but me, my bike, the road, illuminated by my 975 lumen front light, and the reassuring glow of my Nokia N810 computer which I was using for navigation. I arrived at Downham Market station at 7.45pm, just in time to catch the 1948 train back to Cambridge. I was home soon after 8.30pm, having cycled 111 miles.

View this GPS track on a larger map

(Incidentally, Boston Massachusetts to New York, New York is 253 miles by bike)

Friday, 20 January 2012

King's Lynn to West Lynn ferry

There's a regular passenger ferry between King's Lynn and the little village of West Lynn which faces it across the wide River Great Ouse.

The ferry appears to take bikes, though I haven't tried this. If you have, please add a comment to this page and tell us how you got on. The alternative route for cyclists via the old "free bridge" is about three miles.

There doesn't seem to be much about this ferry on the web, so when I was cycling through West Lynn in January 2012 I went to take a look.

There were some posters giving information about the service which can be seen below. For the benefit of search engines the important text is as follows:

The operator is S.N., Kingston Marine Services, The Pavilion, Ferry Square, West Lynn PE34 3JQ. Phone 07974 260639 and 01553 766029.

The service runs on Mondays to Saturdays. No service Sundays and Public Holidays.

Departures from West Lynn are from 7am to 6pm at xx00, xx20 and xx40, with a continuous service between 0740 and 0900 and between 1700 and 1800.

There's a free car park at the West Lynn side.

See the posters below for details of fares and a note about carriage of cycles.

Next to the landing stage at the West Lynn side is a modern building which includes a room with a small exhibition about the ferry and the area.

View King's Lynn to West Lynn Ferry in a larger map

Click on the photos below to see them in more detail.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

19 Jan: Thursday ride to Toft and Gamlingay

Edward writes: This Thursday only five riders met at Haslingfield Green, which was something of a surprise as the early morning rain had stopped and, although still overcast, very little wind. In Greta's absence it was the turn of Tony H to step forward and assume the mantle of ride leader. Although only five we set off towards Barton in very pleasant cycling conditions. In Barton we turned right towards Cambridge and when we had gone over the M11 we turned left and made our way towards Coton.

After Coton we quickly crossed the busy Madingley Road, over the A428 and into Madingley itself. We continued along the country lane until we arrived in Dry Drayton, and here we turned left to go back up to the point where the road crosses the A428. This brought us to Hardwick where we took the road to Toft. We should mention here the sorry state of the hedgerows in Hardwick, in fact the amount of litter in the hedgerows is nothing short of disgusting and a sad reflection on the authorities concerned, notwithstanding how it got there in the first place. Maybe next time we cycle through here a little pride in the village will be evident as it's so dispiriting to see this sort of thing. It was a pleasure to continue our journey downhill to reach Toft and the Meridian Golf Club.

Meridian Golf Club, Toft

At the golf club our numbers more than doubled and it was a pleasure to see a more regular sized Thursday group again, not only that the weather began to look more promising. The coffee break was very enjoyable, this being the first visit to this club for the Thursday group (maybe!). When we started again we went back into Toft followed by Bourn which took us on to the undulating stretch up to Caxton.

Between Bourn and Caxton

Along here the sun had got out thus making for very pleasant riding. In Caxton we crossed over our old friend the A1198 before starting the trip up to Great Gransden. From Gransden we made our way out to the B1040, which we crossed and this began a loop round Abbotsley which would bring us to Gamlingay via Gamlingay Cinques.



Our lunch stop was The Cock, a pub we have often used before, and already there was Mike S and Bob a cyclist from Sandy. Whilst we were in the pub the weather outside turned a little unpleasant as one or two showers passed over. However, by the time an enjoyable lunch break was over the rain clouds had cleared and we were back to sunny spells. Our return journey took us through the Hatleys, again in bright sunshine, all the way to the Croydon and Arrington turning.

Between Orwell and Barrington

The sun over the countryside to our right gave a splendid view and reminds us of one of the many reasons why these days out are so enjoyable. After Arrington we went over the A1198 and into the Wimpole Estate which was very quiet, and then on to Orwell followed by Barrington and Chapel Hill and back into Haslingfield.


Our thanks to Tony for a splendid ride. We covered 42 miles.Edward Elmer

View this route on a larger map