Sunday, 14 April 2013

14 Apr: All-day ride to Nuthampstead, Braughing and Saffron Walden

Nigel writes: Exactly a week ago I reported that spring had arrived at last. Today it seemed that we had skipped spring altogether and had advanced to early summer, with a warm, dry and sunny day on which the temperature reached 25C. There was, however, a strong southerly wind which persisted all day and proved quite tiring on those occasions when we were riding into it.

Not surprisingly there was a strong turnout today, with about ten at Brookside for the first stage, growing to a dozen at lunch. John was our leader today, and led our large group south out of Cambridge to Trumpington where we turned left to Great Shelford.

Just after crossing the railway (above) we turned right to Little Shelford and Whittlesford. Just beyound Whittlesford we crossed the A505 (below).

We made rather slow progress due to the strong headwind and a puncture stop (for me) in Trumpington, so John shortened our route slightly and instead of going via Ickleton and Elmdon to Heydon went there via Grange Road Duxford (below) and Chrishall Grange.

When we reached Heydon (below) we continued to Great Chishill, where our hard work into the wind was rewarded by a fast descent to Shaftenhoe End.

At Shaftenhoe End we turned left to Nuthampstead, which as always allowed a lovely few miles of cycling.

It wasn't long before we arrived in Nuthampstead and our coffee stop at The Woodman.

Already at the pub (above) were about half a dozen members. This is a pleasant and friendly place to stop for coffee; apparently they had opened early just for us, so we were pleased to reward them with a good turnout. The only downside is that they didn't have much in the way of snacks to eat, but they were able to sell me a bar of chocolate.

After coffee several members returned back to Cambridge, but the majority of the group was keen to make the best of the warmest day of the year so far and continue on to lunch. Given the strong headwind John took us more or less directly there, via Anstey and Great Hormead, but this still allowed us to cycle on some very pleasant lanes.

As the morning proceeded the temperature got warmer and warmer, making it necessary to remove multiple layers of clothing.

At about 12.30pm we arrived at Braughing and our lunch stop at The Brown Bear. This is a club favourite though it was my first visit.

After lunch we turned back north-east towards Cambridge, allowing us to enjoy a tailwind for the first time.

We sailed along through Furneaux Pelham and Stocking Pelham to Berden, where the group divided. Several of the group - the majority in fact - were keen to head directly back to Cambridge and so turned north to Clavering. The remainder - John, Joseph, Steve and me - turned south for an extra loop before stopping for coffee as planned in Saffron Walden.

We were now riding back into the wind, but it wasn't far to Manuden where we were able to turn back north again. From there we made rapid progress through Rickling Green, Wicken Bonhunt, Arkesden and Wendens Ambo to Saffron Walden. It was about 3.30pm when we reached The Temeraire. I accompanied my coffee with a biscuit; John on the other hand rewarded himself with a ice cream sundae.

John warily assessing his ice cream sundae

Also at The Temeraire we met Sue, who had made her own way there. We left just after 4pm so we didn't see anyone from the afternoon ride. On the way back to Cambridge we met Phil, who joined us on our route through Littlebury and up the hill to Catmere End. From here we enjoyed a very fast descent over Coploe Hill to Ickleton and an equally fast wind-assisted ride through Duxford, Whittlesford and the Shelfords back to Cambridge. It was still very warm when I arrived back home at 5.25pm, having cycled a modest but very enjoyable 64 miles.

View this GPS track on a larger map

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