Edward writes: We are now in a typical autumn cold spell and this obviously discouraged some of our regular Thursday riders and so only ten cyclists came to Hauxton for the start of today’s ride. The early morning was certainly unpleasant, being damp with a stiff breeze from the north east but the forecast was for an improvement throughout the day and this is what in fact happened. (Before we left Hauxton we noticed a couple of buzzards circling overhead.)
Therefore we left Hauxton with the wind on our backs through Whittlesford, over the A505 into Duxford and took the factory route to reach Ickleton via Hinxton. Naturally this took us to the well known club favourite of Coploe Hill and even in the short time we had been out the weather had improved considerably and it was blue skies all round. After a short breather at the "summit" we resumed to enjoy the long sweep downhill to climb again into Catmere End. This soon brought us to Chestnut Avenue and another long descent to Audley End mansion, the climb up to Saffron Walden and coffee at the Temeraire.
Unusually, the only other rider there was Peter W who joined us for the rest of the day. After coffee we left Saffron Walden with the inevitable climb along the Debden Road. This took us into the most undulating part of the ride in this Essex and Cambridgeshire border area as we went up and down hill via Purton End into Debden and on to Thaxted.
It's been mentioned several times before but, although it's cold, the day is never without its compensations; with the brilliant sunshine the many colours of the dying leaves and the berries still in the hedgerows made for many spectacular panoramas. We regrouped in Thaxted and left the town towards the Bardfields before turning for Finchingfield. The original intention was for the ride to go through Finchingfield but we started to run a little late so we took a shorter route towards Great Sampford but turned off to head in the direction of Cornish Hall End as this road joins the road up from Finchingfield to the B1054.
We crossed the B1054 for another climb before descending into Helions Bumpstead and then climb again to Castle Camps. By now, of course, we were heading into the wind and its chill could certainly be felt. From Castle Camps we went to Nosterfield End and the the two small hamlets of Mill Green and Cardinal’s Green before arriving in Horseheath and the Old red Lion Inn for our lunch stop and by now the time was 1.40pm, a little later than anticipated. As is the custom in this pub we were well looked after.
After lunch, and coming out into the cold it felt as if the temperature had dropped, which no doubt it had, as the sun was getting low in the sky. The opinion was that we should go back to Cambridge on the quickest route and so we left via Streetly End and onto West Wickham and Balsham. Peter left us along here to head for his home and when we arrived in Balsham some went directly to Cambridge via Fulbourn which left three of us (Sarah, Mike C and me) to go down to Hildersham, over the A1307 and on this occasion taking in the village of Great Abington before going into Babraham via the main road rather than using the farm track as this was likely to be muddy due to so much rain recently.
When we reached Sawston we crossed over the railway and took the cycleway to Whittlesford and then on to Little Shelford which left Sarah to go on to Hauxton, thus becoming the only one to complete the whole course, and Mike and me to finish in Great Shelford. This gave us a very satisfying 56 miles - it was probably one of those days when it didn’t look too promising in the morning and a disincentive to make the effort but at the end of it all very pleased that you did! Edward Elmer
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