Thursday, 21 March 2013

21 Mar: Thursday ride to Saffron Walden and Clare

Edward writes: Another Thursday and another cold day in this everlasting winter. Fortunately, the night-time temperatures didn’t fall as low as predicted, only going down to about zero degrees. In fact the day looked quite pleasant with early morning sunshine and little breeze, but still coming in from the east. We left Hauxton with about fourteen riders as we made our way out of the village to Little Shelford and then on to Whittlesford. We realised that the morning session would, by and large, be a ride, if not a toil, into the wind, but this would be rewarded with the wind on our backs on the return journey from Clare. There are few alternatives when it comes to cycling out to Saffron Walden and we chose the well worn path via Duxford and Ickleton and on to Coploe Hill.

Coploe Hill

As expected, although the views are worth the climb, the wind certainly made its presence felt and it was decidedly cold. As is our custom we waited to re-group at the top and then set off again with the benefit of the downhills, albeit into the wind. Sadly we said goodbye to Sue who felt a little unwell and she turned off to head for home whilst the rest of us made our way via Catmere End and Chestnut Avenue, Audley End and thence into Saffron Walden.

Coploe Hill

Audley End

Coffee was at the Temeraire in Saffron Walden and our numbers briefly swelled to eighteen including both Bob and Myrtle, although not on their bikes; nonetheless it was good to see them. With twenty miles in front of us we didn’t spend too long at coffee and we were underway again by about 11.20am. A number of people intended only to stay out until coffee and left for home, but sadly, Brian and Peter took a wrong turning and missed out on the remainder of the ride. Peter had just returned from his epic holiday to South America and Antarctica and said that it was colder here than in Antarctica, so what does that say about our winter!

To Sewards End

From Walden we cycled up the Ashdon Road as far as the turning to Sewards End and on to quiet country lanes before reaching the Ashdon to Radwinter road on which we turned towards Radwinter. This soon brought us to Great Sampford and a trip along the delightfully named Sparepenny Lane. We were now in the quiet country roads of this part of the Essex and Suffolk border and then ensued a pleasant ride through the countryside via Cornish Hall End and Stambourne Green before finally arriving at Ridgewell on the A1017. We crossed over this road and passed through Ashen. Here Adrian, an encyclopaedia of of the byroads of East Anglia, suggested a quicker route to Clare and he took us down Doctor’s Lane, a narrow and muddy side road, but it produced the goods and enabled us to run into Clare at about 1.10pm with 35 miles on the clock.

Lunch was taken in Cafe Clare and, although only three people ordered a meal, the remainder joined for coffee after eating sandwiches out in the cold. We were joined by Geoff who had cycled over from his home near Bury St Edmunds. It was very pleasant in the cafe, especially as a warm fire was on the go and a few copies of Cycling Plus as a further benefit/distraction.

We left Clare at about 2.15pm and and headed up to Chilton Street and then Hundon. This was followed by Barnardiston before coming to the A143. We travelled on this for about two or three hundred meters before turning off for Great Wratting. This was a narrow lane and at times muddy but by now we were feeling the full benefit of the wind on our backs and progress was a rapid. Great Wratting was soon followed by Withersfield and then on to Wratting Common.

Wratting Common

Here we said goodbye to Rupert and Adrian whilst the last five went home through West Wickham and Balsham where David left us to go through Fulbourn and the last four enjoyed the downhill to Hildersham.

Balsham

In order to speed things along we elected to go along the A1307 to Four Went Ways as far as the turning to Babraham and then to Sawston. All day the temperature had been about 6 degrees but now the day was cooling down and we made quick progress to get home. Tony left us in Sawston and the last three went through Sawston and over via the cycleway to Whittlesford and finally Hauxton where the ride finished with a workmanlike 64 miles to our credit. Edward Elmer

Sarah and Averil at Southill on Tuesday


View this route on a larger map

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