Thursday, 30 May 2013

30 May: Thursday ride to Bassingbourn and Clavering Lakes

Edward writes: Once again we start with yet another account of the un-spring like weather which has been a feature of most rides this month. It was overcast, drizzle and cool with little prospect of improvement throughout the day. Despite it all nine riders assembled in Hauxton including Greta who was making her first trip out on a Thursday. This was good news and let’s hope a new beginning for her. Mick C was today’s leader and we left Hauxton with a following wind out to Little Shelford and Newton. This soon brought us to Thriplow and Fowlmere and then down to the A10 at Shepreth. This gave us just a few miles to run through Meldreth, up to Kneesworth and then into Bassingbourn and Hattie’s Coffee Shop for our coffee break.

Litlington crossing

As a club this was our first visit to Hattie’s, which is small with about half a dozen seats inside and with two or three tables outside on the pavement. For today’s ride this was OK but if we had been a bigger group we would have had to stand, although it’s possible more seating could be provided outside. Despite this the coffee and cakes were good and we received a warm welcome. Greta did not ride with us, preferring to take a shorter route out accompanied by Peter W and as we left they were busy chatting and would return to Hauxton from there.

The remainder cycled on to Littlington where we turned onto the Royston road which leads to the railway and then along the A505 for about a quarter of a mile before turning off for the brisk climb up to Therfield.


Here David W completed an unwanted hat-trick with three punctures within a quarter of a mile before eventually changing his tyre and finally getting under way again.


With the wind still with us we made good progress through to Buckland where we crossed the A10 and headed towards the B1368 just outside Barkway. Both these last two stretches were along quiet roads not often used for Thursday rides and how much nicer it would all look with some sunshine (if only).

Towards Barkway

After we crossed the B1368 we wended our way to Anstey and through all three Pelhams before arriving at Furneaux Pelham and the Brewery Tap to find that they did not do food and the pub was up for sale. It wasn’t so long ago that we called into this pub to be told that they did do food. It may go some way to explain why their telephone number is unobtainable. We decided to go on to Clavering where we considered The Cricketers which was very busy before finally deciding on Clavering Lakes where we arrived at 2 pm and nearly forty miles.

Brent Pelham


After lunch we turned north and into the wind and another session of heavy drizzle. Even though the may flower is out in these conditions it’s hard to detect the aroma and so we plodded on to Langley Upper Green and through Duddenhoe End and then onto Chrishall.


Now that we were amongst the highest points in the county from here back to Hauxton would be nearly all downhill. As we descended from the Elmdon turning the cloud was so low it was sitting on the road and the surrounding fields giving us restricted visibility. At Chrishall Grange we took the turning for Fowlmere and then finished the ride the same way we had come out in the morning. During this ride, which covered 57 miles, we must have passed at least five pubs with "For Sale" signs outside. We must thank Mick for taking us round even though this wasn’t a ride for the Thursday scrapbook. Our next ride will be in June so who knows? Edward Elmer

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Sunday, 26 May 2013

26 May: Afternoon ride to Ashwell

John F writes: Perfect cycling weather tempted 11 riders to Brookside for the 2:00 p.m. start. It was good to see several of our less frequent members whom we hope will be able to join us more often. We were treated to fine views from the top of Chapel Hill including an air display at Duxford. After Barrington and Orwell we got to Wimpole Park with its huge crowds and a queue for the car park. In front of Wimpole we stopped for a short pause: enjoyed by all except presumably Daniel who was mending a rear-wheel puncture. Further fine views from Croydon Hill and a quick descent to Wenday, thence Shingay. The Edward VII pub at Guilden Morden was doing a roaring trade. I haven’t come across this pub name before. We arrived at Ashwell URC Hall at 4:20 p.m. to meet several of our day-riders. Cakes were scrumptious: and we were allowed to cut our own slices!

After tea we took the direct route back with a following breeze via Steeple Morden, Littlington, Kneesworth, to rejoin the outward route at Barrington. From high ground we had a splendid view of the Red Arrows display. I was home at 6:30 pm. my GPS having recorded a distance of 37 miles. John Ferguson

Thursday, 23 May 2013

23 May: Thursday ride to Swavesey and St Neots

Edward writes: Today was another twist in our fortunes with the weather in that it was very cool and blustery and with a forecast for rain in the afternoon. This was familiar weather to those who had returned from France where the weather was cool and windy. Tony H was our leader today for the ride out to St. Neots and nine riders arrived at Haslingfield not deterred by Tony’s uncanny knack of leading rides on days when the weather is doing its best to displease.

We set off into a stiff northerly wind through Harlton and onto the Eversdens. This brought us to Kingston and Bourn and the long, but slight climb up to the A428. Whilst the main group kept to the road it goes without saying that Adrian put in a bit of off-road work by going through Childerley Gate before rejoining us all in Boxworth. This was now downhill to a busy A14 which we crossed on the flyover and a mile and a half later we were in Swavesey and the Baptist Chapel. As we always report this is a firm favourite with the club and the ladies, this week represented by the Swavesey Fete organisers, did us proud with a fine selection of home-made cakes plus a drink all for £1.50. As is often the case we were joined by other members, many of whom were tempted into a second course.


Sadly, it was time to leave and out we went into the wind and the threat of rain looking imminent. We went to Fenstanton, back over the A14 and along into Hilton where we caught in a heavy shower, but luckily the cricket pavilion was nearby so we took shelter there until it had passed. From here to Graveley and its wind turbines requires a couple of long stretches into the wind but we finally made it and then turned past Toseland wood and another long run down to the B1043 and then into a busy market day in St. Neots and lunch at the Ambiance Cafe.

St Neots

Strangely, most of us sat outside to either eat sandwiches or food ordered from inside. However, Sarah had made a cake, she said to welcome back the French tourists, but really she just likes baking cakes, and this was readily eaten by us all. After our treat it was time to move on but not before taking shelter from a sudden squall. Sarah left us here to head towards St.Ives and probably into the wind the rest of us headed to towards Waresley but with the benefit of the wind. All around were threatening clouds as we made our way via Waresley to Great Gransden, Caxton and Bourn.

It now looked like a race against the ever-darkening sky and getting home, but sadly the weather won: from Toft through Comberton and Barton we were caught by heavy rain and hail. We reached the Coton roundabout where the tour ended but having received a thorough drenching. Thanks to Tony for his leadership and this gave a ride of 52 miles Edward Elmer

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Wednesday, 22 May 2013

22 May: Evening ride to Harlton

Nigel writes: Despite the unseasonably cold weather there was a good turnout for tonight's ride: Rob, Tony, Daniel, Steve, John E, Peter D and newcomer John.

Our destination this evening was the Hare and Hounds in Harlton, a nicely alliterative pub that we hadn't visited before. I had phoned the pub earlier to check it was serving food and discovered that they stopped taking food orders at 8.30pm. Since this is a bit early for us I turned up at Brookside ready to suggest an alternative pub. However I was persuaded to stick to the original plan, shortening the ride to make sure that we got there in time.

Our route this evening was a simple clockwise loop. We set off south along Trumpington, the busway and the DNA path to Great Shelford. We reached Granham's Road to find the gates on the level crossing closing, so we made a diversion to use the Hinton Way crossing instead. However the gates closed a second time as we were crossing, stranding Daniel on one side whilst we waited on the other.

After a short delay we were soon on our way again, west to Little Shelford and then south along the road to Whittlesford. A pelaton of club cyclists overtook us and three of set off in chase, following them at about 22mph for over a mile before stopping to wait for the others.

We continued to Duxford where we turned west onto Grange Road.

This is a long straight road and despite the potholes our speed increased again, towed this time by our guest John, here on his first evening ride. At Chrishall Grange we turned north and continued our clockwise loop through Fowlmere, Shepreth, Barrington and over Chapel Hill to Haslingfield. A few minutes later we arrived at Harlton, where we stopped at The Hare and Hounds as planned. It was 8.15pm, in good time to order food. Impressions of the pub were positive: it was busy with plenty of people eating, and with a good menu with a good range of cheaper options. We agreed that we would come back here another time.

We sat with our food and drinks for almost an hour before returning home to Cambridge. Again the speed was satisfyingly high on the final leg, and I was home by 9.45pm, having cycled 30 miles.

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Sunday, 19 May 2013

19 May: Afternoon ride to Braughing

Peter writes: The weather forecast for Sunday was for a rather grey day, so the light cloud and occasional sun was a welcome surprise. As I made my way to Brookside I cycled across Jesus Green, where the blossom was in full bloom.

At 1.30 there were six of us ready to go: John E, John F, Andy, Daniel A, and new rider Graham on a recumbent, as well as myself.

Our ambition was to get down to the Pelhams and so we rode directly out of town through the Shelfords and Duxford to Ickleton. Here we turned left and tackled our first climb of the day on the road to Elmdon. Here are John and John enjoying a well-earned rest at the top.

Out of Elmdon we descended towards Duddenhoe End. The cherry tree in Elmdon was especially fine as you can see in these photos.

We wound through from Duddenhoe End to Langley Upper and Lower Green and on to Brent Pelham. Here I decided the lead the group through a short cut to Furneux Pelham which turned out to be rather an adventure! We perhaps should have been warned by the "Unsuitable for Motor Vehicles" and “Ford” signs. As we progressed we realised that in fact the lane was more like a river bed, and indeed after a while the ford materialized in the shape of a completely flooded track. However, I did a reconnaissance up the bank and realised that there was a quite serviceable path running along parallel to the "road". We hauled the bikes up and rode along for a mile or so before passing them down a human chain on to the road a few hundred yards from Furneux Pelham.

Unfortunately I was too busy to remember to take any photos but here is Graham, (more or less) still smiling at the end of it, with the track behind him and the bank we brought the bikes down to our right.

The remainder of the ride to Braughing was uneventful, and we all enjoyed an excellent tea. On the way back, Nigel led us a slightly different and longer route through the Pelhams, Arkesden and up a back lane to Catmere End. Lovely rolling countryside and by now it was quite sunny, and developing into a beautiful long early summer evening.

I finally arrived home at around 7.40pm, having cycled 57 miles (very respectable for an afternoon). Peter Hutchison

19 May: Ad hoc all-day ride to Melbourn, Nuthampstead and Braughing

Nigel writes: I didn't go on the normal CTC all-day ride today. Instead I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and rode down to Trumpington Park and Ride to join the A10 Corridor Cycling Campaign and their ride along the A10 to draw attention to the need for better cycle provision along this route.

A short ride down the busway brought me to Trumpington Park and Ride just before 10am. Here I found a large crowd of cyclists waiting to set off on the ride. The turnout was bigger than anyone expected, with approaching a hundred people present, including many parents with their children.

Waiting to set off from Trumpington Park and Ride

The A10 Corridor Cycling Campaign is an independent organization but several CTC members are actively involved, including CTC's Cambridgeshire right-to-ride representative Mike Stapleton who gave a briefing at the start.

Mike Stapleton addresses the crowds before departure

We set off at about 10.20am along a concrete road which crosses the Trumpington Meadows development site to a "accommodation bridge" across the M11. This will one day be turned into a proper cycle route, but today we were able to explore the route with special permission from the developers.

Trumpington Meadows east of the M11

Approaching the accommodation bridge over the M11

After crossing the M11 the concrete road comes to an end and we had to wheel our bikes for a few hundred yards along the edge of a field to rejoin the A10 near Hauxton Mill. Some of us could have probably cycled this section but with so many people on the ride, many of them carrying children, it was better that we all walked this short section.

Trumpington Meadows west of the M11

When we reached the A10 it was simply a case of cycling along the footway along the northern side for about four and a half miles. Much of this is designated as a shared-use cycleway, though I'm not sure whether all of it is. Nevertheless it did mean that we didn't have to ride along the A10 itself at any point.

However this offers an extremely poor environment in which to cycle. The path was bumpy, extremely narrow, overgrown and intersected by numerous side roads where we had to stop and give way. The section through Harston was especially bad, with multiple side entrances to cross. Possibly the worst part was when we had to cross the side road to Haslingfield. Fortunately a marshall was waiting to help us cross at this blind corner. Essentially the goal of the A10 Corridor Cycling Campaign is to persuade the County Council to provide something better than this that people would actually want to use.

Poor-quality pavement cycleway along the A10

As we rode along I noticed that we were being filmed by TV crews from both the BBC and ITV. The ITV report can be seen here and included both some nice photos of us all riding along as well as several interviews with people who explained what we were campaigning for.

Just beyond the turn to Shepreth we crossed over the A10 (another difficult manoeuvre) and turned off onto a minor road towards Meldreth.

Approaching Philimore Garden Centre, Melbourn

A few hundred hards further we turned right into Philimore Garden Centre where we were due to stop for refreshments. I had expected a long queue for the garden centre cafe and so was delighted to discover that the organisers were waiting with a tent serving drinks and some very nice cakes. After a while a separate ride arrived from Royston, consisting of perhaps fifty people.

Coffee and cake stall at Philimore Garden Centre

My GPS gadget only registered just over eight miles from central Cambridge (and five miles from Trumpington), reminding me that this area would be an easy ride from Cambridge if only the road was less horrible.

It was now about 11.30am and people were beginning to set off back to Cambridge. I was ready for a longer ride and so were four other CTC members who were there: Rupert, Mike K, Neil and Cheryl. There wasn't time to join the official all-day ride at its lunch stop in Aston (near Stevenage), so Rupert suggested we have lunch in Nuthampstead instead.

We took a fairly direct route there, through Fowlmere, across the A505 to Chrishall Grange and up the hill to Heydon and Great Chishill. This is the highest village in the county and I led the group on a short detour along the B1039 to the top of the hill at the edge of the village. At 146 metres above sea level this is the highest point in Cambridgeshire.

Mount Chishill

It was nice to be away from the noisy A10 and on quiet country lanes at last.

We arrived at The Woodman in Nuthampstead at about 1.20pm. The restaurant was fully booked but were able to fit us in and I had a pleasant hour enjoying a gourmet sausage sandwich, a small bowl of chips and a large glass of orange juice and soda.

Afterwards Rupert said goodbye and set off for home leaving Cheryl, Mike, Neil and me to continue on to the planned tea stop at Braughing. I led the group south-west through Anstey and Wydial to Buntingford. We continued south-west, under the A10 and through Aspenden for a very nice loop through Cherry Green and, er, Nasty.

A short while later we reached Great Munden where we turned east for Puckeridge. This meant we had to cross the A10, which is a dual carriageway at this point but was relatively quiet (much quieter than when we crossed it near Shepreth). A short section of footpath took us into Puckeridge.

Short-cut to Puckeridge

We turned north for the final few miles to Braughing, where we stopped for tea at Braughing Village Hall. Here we found the "official" all-day ride and after about half an hour we were joined by the afternoon ride.

After tea we all set off for home. I rode back with Peter H and the afternoon ride.

Preparing to set off for home

Braughing is 25 miles from Cambridge by the direct route, making this possibly our most distant afternoon tea stop. But I didn't fancy the B1368 so suggested a slightly longer route to the east.

On the way home

Our route took us through the Pelhams, Clavering, Arkesden and the "little road over the hill past the radio masts" to Littlebury Green. From here a short climb took us to Catmere End and the ever-popular descent to Ickleton. From here the familar route through Duxford, Whittlesford and the Shelfords brought us back to Cambridge. I arrived home at 7.30pm, having cycled 65 miles.

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Thursday, 16 May 2013

16 May: Thursday ride to Horseheath and Thaxted

David writes: Today was miraculously nice after yesterday's foul weather and the promise of more to come. This was my second go at leading; I thought that if I made a total hash of it so I wouldn't be asked again... Today's destinations were Horseheath for the coffee stop and Thaxted for lunch. Twelve of us set off after the photoshoot in Greta's garden, taking the Whittlesford road to the path leading to the church then through the oilseed rape fields to the level crossing just before the A1301.

At Greta's

We arrived at the level crossing just as the barrier was coming down but fortunately we didn't have a long wait for the train to pass.

Stuck at the crossing

We continued on into Sawston and along the cycle path to Babraham, where all but one took the rutted track to the footbridge over the A11. The one who didn't, me, wimped out after going over the handlebars on the track last time, joining the others at the giraffe. We had a nice quiet ride from here through Abington and Linton and then over the A1307 to Bartlow. We then had a gentle climb up to Streetly End before continuing round into Horseheath and The Red Lion. We were greeted there by several other riders and two enormous plates of chocolate brownies and other delicacies. Yum!

Coffee at Horseheath

Suitably refreshed and re-energised we took the beautifully quiet lanes through Castle Camps, Helion Bumpstead and Little Sampford, cutting down past Bardfield End Green to Bardfield Road and soon afterwards, Thaxted.

The sarnies folk ate their lunches on the steps of what a local said used to be the town prison, before joining the serious eaters on the tables outside Parrishes. (You can read more about Thaxted Guildhall here - Editor)

Bikes at the old prison in Thaxted

Sarnies at Thaxted

We watched a wonderful aerobatic display given by some recently arrived swifts, and were promised a peloton of 50 Cypriot cyclists but sadly non appeared.

Beer and grub at Thaxted

It felt hard to get going again after sitting in such a pleasant location and enjoying the moments of warm sunshine. But needs must, and we took a route back through Debden and Newport before heading west to Great Chishill and down that lovely long hill to Flint Cross.

Les belles dames

At Fowlmere the Cambridge contingent went left for Newton and home while the local boys cut back down Mill Road and back to Meldreth.

The bike computer said 69 miles, leaving the unfulfilled thought of an extra mile for a round 70.

Several of you asked me about my impending end-to-end ride, starting on 26 May. All being well you can follow progress at with a description of our escapade at David Marsh

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Wednesday, 15 May 2013

15 May: Evening ride to Great Wilbraham

Nigel writes: Spring seems to have gone into temporary hibernation, and today had been damp and quite cold. So when I rode over to Brookside for this evening's ride I almost expected to find no-one else there. In the event I was joined by Tony and Mike K as well as newcomers Jim and John for what turned out to be quite a nice evening: still quite cold but remaining dry, and with plenty of sun towards the end.

Our route this evening was a clockwise loop to the south-east. We set off east out of Cambridge along the river to Fen Ditton and then along High Ditch Road to Quy. We continued through Bottisham to Swaffham Bulbeck. There was a slight tailwind and the five of us made good progress.

At Swaffham Bulbeck we turned east onto the long road that leads to Dullingham. Here we turned south-east onto Balsham Lane, the lovely lane that climbs gently up out of Dullingham and past the Woodland Cemetery.

The southern end of this road is called Grange Road and meets a road called Six Mile Bottom Road at a T-junction. Here we turned right for the long descent down Chilly Hill to Six Mile Bottom. By now the sun was shining brightly and it had turned into a beautiful (if cold) evening.

From Six Mile Bottom it was just a few miles further to Great Wilbraham, where we stopped at The Carpenters Arms. We were disappointed to discover that the only food available was soup or sandwiches. I ordered a drink and a soup and we had a relaxing half-hour in the pub before returning back to Cambridge via Fulbourn. I arrived back home at 9.50pm, having cycled 32 miles.

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Sunday, 12 May 2013

12 May: Afternoon ride to Shepreth

Tina writes: Seven riders met at Brookside today, including new rider Jim. We had no appointed leader, so Tina suggested a southern loop to the Shelfords and onwards to Coploe Hill, before heading north to Fowlmere.

However in true democratic spirit, we incorporated Jacob's suggestion to detour before Whittlesford to view some woodland bluebells. As everything is blooming late this year, we did find a profusion of forget-me-nots and also verges starred with delicate white flowers of wild garlic... but no bluebells!

We crossed the A505 below Whittlesford and headed south towards Duxford, turning left just past the John Barleycorn towards Hinxton enjoying the quieter lanes. The ford was deep and fast flowing (because the mill was open according to a passer-by) so everyone kept to the footpath and bridge and Jacob suggested a short visit to the white clapboard watermill restored to working order by Cambridge Past Present and Future in the mid 1980s.

Back on the road, we had less than an hour to ride back to Shepreth so, ditching the original hilly plan up to Elmdon, we headed along to Ickleton and kept to the low-level straight Grange Road (into the wind!) We turned again at the end, riding north along a lane lined with purple lilac bushes, which would normally have been flowering, but were only just showing clusters of dark buds. This road brought us out at Chrishall Grange where the spotting rain became more persistent and it was definitely 'waterproofs on'! We crossed the A505 to Fowlmere and rode up through the village, taking the left fork at the war memorial, which led us straight along to cross the A10 and into Shepreth. Some day riders were just leaving as we arrived, but several more were still relaxing over tea and cake. We always receive a warm welcome at the Teacake - a small, friendly teashop with a fine line in interesting teas, superb coffee and delicious home-made cakes. (Chocolate and beetroot cake highly recommended!)

The warmth and cosiness, made it hard to contemplate venturing out into the rain again, but eventually we set off again at 5pm, the main group intending to return to Cambridge via Chapel Hill, Haslingfield and Barton, while I rode the few miles back to Royston. Total distance (according to 30 miles. Tina Filby

There's also a great photo on the Teacake Facebook page here (Facebook account not required).

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