Thursday, 2 May 2013

2 May: Thursday ride to Saffron Walden and Great Yeldham

Edward writes: Finally we can put the grumbles about the cold winter behind us as today broke bright and sunny and this was how it was to be all day long. Although there was a touch of overnight frost, the forecast was for a warm day with temperatures in the upper teens centigrade. These, then, were the ingredients to entice twelve members to assemble in Hauxton for today’s trip into the Essex and Suffolk border country with our lunch stop in Great Yeldham.

Duxford Grange

Once again we were joined by Carol who was making her second outing with us as part of her training for the Land’s End to John O’Groats ride. We set off facing the light breeze as we headed for Whittlesford and then down to the A505 before entering Duxford. Rather than go the usual route to Ickleton and over Coploe Hill we chose to go along Duxford Grange which runs parallel to the Duxford Air Museum. After travelling its two mile length we turned to Chrishall Grange and then along Royston Lane which required a steep climb and also a descent on a very rough country lane with its many potholes.

Near Ickleton Grange

Royston Lane

Unfortunately John F picked up a puncture but Mike C and Jim stayed with him whilst the remainder of the group pressed on to Saffron Walden, going via the bluebell woods into Littlebury. Sadly, it was too early for the usual wonderful display of bluebells to be seen in these woods. We all arrived in Saffron Walden and soon Jim, John and Mike also joined us. It was good to see Greta there, too, as she had been brought there by David W - maybe not too long before she will be able to join us with her bike.

Saffron Walden

As the next part of the trip was likely to be twenty miles we curtailed our break and got on the road again by 11.45am. Leaving Saffron Walden is never particularly pleasant and always requires a hill climb. We went out along the Radwinter road which, after a lengthy climb brought us to Sewards End. The traffic eased from here on and we had a smooth run into Radwinter where we turned to go through the Sampfords and joined the road for the run down to Finchingfield.

Finchingfield

As was to be expected, with the warmth and bright sunshine this popular village was very crowded and most of the cafes seemed to be doing a good trade. We stopped here briefly and then turned towards Howe Street.

Howe Street

Even though this was a lovely day we were cycling, for the most part, into a chill north east wind which gave rise to hopes of an easy ride back in the afternoon. Under the bright sunshine the blossoms on the trees, including a lot of blackthorn, looked particularly good, and then add in all the tulips in the gardens, and cowslips, etc along the grass verges, all making for a very pleasant ride. After Howe Street we went through Gainsford End and through to Toppesfield and here we were far away from busy roads and met only the occasional car. After Toppesfield it was just a couple of miles into Great Yeldham and lunch at the Waggon and Horses, with 35 miles on the clock.

Great Yeldham

We all made the most of the sun and sat out in the garden where we were joined by Tony and Sue and also Geoff. After a very pleasant and satisfactory lunch we left Great Yeldham at about 2.10 pm. We went along the main road before turning east to go through Stambourne and finally the breeze was more or less in our favour, at least it was a lot easier than the morning session. Once again we were travelling along quiet country lanes and these brought us to Steeple Bumpstead and then Helions Bumpstead. Although nice roads to ride there were one or two climbs to negotiate, especially up to Castle Camps but this was followed by a long, enjoyable downhill into Bartlow. This took us into Linton and some good-natured banter from the Village College boys as they made their way home along the high street. We went along the back road out of Linton into Hildersham and then Great Abington. We took the farm track over the main road into Babraham where we joined the cycleway through Sawston and into Whittlesford. This just left the last three miles into Great Shelford where the ride ended after a very pleasant 62 miles at 4.15pm. Edward Elmer


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