Sunday, 23 June 2013

23 Jun: All-day ride to Newmarket, Bury St Edmunds and West Wratting

Nigel writes: The runs list showed no leader for today's all-day ride, so instead of reading the paper this morning I spent ten minutes in front of the computer planning a possible route. I arrived at Brookside to find just Conrad waiting. A few moments later we were joined by Steve and Daniel. Our morning coffee stop today was in Newmarket, and a brief discussion we agreed a route and off we went.

We set off east out of Cambridge along the river, across Ditton Meadows (below) and through Fen Ditton to Quy. The weather this morning was dull and cool, with a strong westerly wind which blew us along and made this morning's ride fast and easy.

We continued to Bottisham where we turned north. We crossed the B1102 to Lode and continued north for another mile or so before turning onto the Lodes Way. We followed this east, crossing over Swaffham Bulbeck Lode and Reach Lode using the excellent cycle bridges that were built a few years ago.

Unfortunately the money ran out before a cycle bridge could be built across Burwell Lode, so we had to dismount and carry our bridge over a stepped footbridge instead.

After crossing the bridge Daniel left the group, leaving just Conrad, Steve and me to continue south-east to Burwell, Exning and Newmarket. Between Exning and Newmarket I attempted to follow NCN 51 into the Town Centre but quickly became lost. Fortunately we met Keith coming the other way and I persuaded him to turn around and show us the way. After a couple of false turns we found the route and arrived a few minutes later at Coffee & Co. Joseph and Geoff already there, making just six at coffee, surprisingly few for a summer Sunday.

After coffee we set off east towards our lunch stop at Bury St Edmunds. For this section NCN 51 takes the ideal route, and we followed it all the way. After about half an hour Joseph broke off for home, leaving Geoff, Conrad, Keith, Steve and me to carry on to lunch.

We arrived in Bury St Edmunds at about 12.30pm. We stopped to buy lunch (a large West Cornwall pastie in my case) and sat down in the Abbey Gardens for a picnic.

After lunch we turned south, following a route I had quickly planned earlier and programmed into my Garmin. This took us along the narrowest lanes I could find to Hartest. The weather in the afternoon was forecast to be sunshine and showers, and we encountered two brief showers along the way. These were heavy enough for us to stop and shelter under a tree but they passed on within ten minutes after which the sun came out.

At Hartest we turned west. This took us directly into the wind but high hedges gave us protection and we made faster progress than I expected.

Our route west took us through Hawkedon and Denston to Stradishall. Here we crossed the A143 (where Geoff left us) and continued via Cowlinge, Great Bradley and Carlton to West Wratting. We reached The Chestnut Tree at about 4.10pm, twenty minutes early for tea.

The landlord told us that there were only eight expected for tea today, and about half an hour later we were joined by the afternoon ride, which today consisted of just Neil and three others.

After a pleasant tea we set off back to Cambridge via Six Mile Bottom and Quy. It had started raining and the temperature had dropped, but this was just another passing shower and was soon over. However the westerly headwind was as strong as ever, and the final hour back to Cambridge was a bit of a slog. I arrived back home at 6.30pm, having cycled 85 miles - a very respectable mileage given the conditions.

View this GPS track on a larger map

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