Nigel writes: Today was a dull and damp day, though it wasn't particularly cold and never actually rained at any point. Perhaps as would be expected this led to a somewhat reduced turnout at Brookside: just Neil T, Zhiqing, Neil S and me - though as is usually the case we saw many more members than this during the course of the day.
We didn't have a pre-arranged leader today so we agreed a route at the start and set off. This took us west out of Cambridge along the Barton Road cycleway.
When we reached Barton we turned south to Haslingfield. There our group divided into two. Neil T and Zhiqing took the turn to Harlton and followed a relatively direct route to Waresley via the Eversdens, Kingston and Bourn, whilst Conrad, Neil S and I took a slightly longer route.
The three of us climbed Chapel Hill and descended to Barrington. Here, instead of continuing across Barrington Green to Shepreth we turned left to Foxton. The reason for this diversion was that I wanted to inspect the new cycle track that is currently under construction alongside the A10 between Foxton and Shepreth.
When we reached the A10 at Foxton Station the first thing we discovered is that nothing has changed for the first three-quarters of a mile south of Foxton Station. This remains a narrow and bumpy path, though certainly rideable. I think this is intended to be used by cyclists but I didn't see any signs to that effect.
The new cycle path starts at the junction with Shepreth Road, Foxton. It's only a third of a mile from here to the crossroads at Fowlmere Road, Shepreth, but this short section will soon have an excellent new cycle path.
It's still under construction, though, and the last hundred metres to the cross-roads is not yet rideable.
The new cycleway is planned to continue a further three-quarters of a mile to the turn for Melbourn, but we didn't try it and instead turned right to Shepreth.
Our explorations completed, we carried on towards our coffee stop at Waresley. This rook us through Malton to Orwell and then past Wimpole Hall to Arrington. We crossed the A1198 and continued west to Croydon and then up Croydon Hill and through the Hatleys to Gamlingay. From here it was just a short distance to Waresley where we stopped for coffee at the Garden Centre.
Already in the cafe were about half a dozen members including Mike S, Mick C, Edward, Richard and David, as well as Neil T and Zhiqing who had arrived well before us.
After coffee I set off towards lunch with Conrad, Neil S, Zhiqing and David W. We left Waresley along the lovely narrow lane that runs over Lily Hill and down towards St Neots.
In St Neots we used the Willow Bridge to cross the River Great Ouse and continued west into the flat but peaceful countryside west of the A1. When we reached the cross-roads near Bushmead Priory we turned north and wound out way around the airfield at Staughton Moor and on to Staughton Highway. Here we turned onto the empty road which climbs up the ridge past Littlehey Prison to West Perry, where we stopped for lunch at the Harbour View restaurant on the edge of Grafham Water. There was a bit of a north-westerly breeze which made for a noticeable headwind but nothing to cause us any particular problems.
When we arrived at the restaurant we found Sarah and Andy, and a few minutes later we were joined by Adrian and Richard M who had been at Waresley but had decided to take a longer route to lunch. The restaurant was very quiet, which I hope was due to the time of year and the dreary weather rather than a general lack of trade, but it meant we were served quickly and it wasn't long until we were back on our way.
From West Perry we rode east along the B661 around the edge of the dam and then down towards Buckden. With the wind behind us, and Andy and Sarah setting a brisk pace, we made rapid progress to Buckden where we paused to regroup.
We crossed the A1 using the subway and then continued east, over first the Ouse and then the railway, to Offord Cluny. There we turned north along the B1043 for the three mile journey to Godmanchester. From Godmanchester we rode across the Ouse Meadows to Hemingford Abbots and then across the Ouse once more to Houghton. A short ride along the Thicket Path brought us to St Ives, where we found a street market was in full swing.
We stopped for afternoon tea at the River Tea Rooms. As were were going in we spotted Paul, who had been out for a ride on his own, and a few minutes later we were joined by Adrian and also by John F and the afternoon ride, which today consisted of John F, John E, Jacob, Cheryl and Steve. So all together we were quite a large group, taking up about half the tea room.
Afterwards we set off back towards Cambridge along the busway. I arrived home at 5.30pm, having cycled 72 miles.
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