Sunday, 1 December 2013

1 Dec: All-day ride to Saffron Walden, Thaxted and Ickleton

Nigel writes: The approach of Christmas means that many CTC members have other things to do on Sundays so I was not surprised to find only three people at Brookside for today's all-day ride: Conrad, Neil T and me. I. too, had other plans for the afternoon so would be riding only as far as the coffee stop in Saffron Walden.

There was no pre-arranged leader today but that wasn't a problem and we quickly agreed a route at the start. At my suggestion we followed a loop to the east of Cambridge, along the river to Fen Ditton and then along High Ditch Road to Quy. There we turned south-east for the long road to Six Mile Bottom. The morning was dull and cloudy, and quite cold at first.

Neil and Conrad on the way to Six Mile Bottom

At Six Mile Bottom we turned right onto the main road for a few hundred yards before turning left onto the quiet lane that climbs the hill past Wadlow Farm to West Wratting. If I had been feeling a little cold at the bottom, I was fully warmed-up at the top!

Conrad climbs the hill past the Wadlow Farm wind turbines

At West Wratting we turned south, down the hill and over the A1307 to Bartlow . We continued to Ashdon (past the museum) and then climbed a gentle hill before descending once more into Saffron Walden.

We stopped for coffee at The Temeraire, where we found Edward, Mike S, Doug, Adrian and Mick, all of whom had ridden there directly. I ordered a large coffee and my first mince pie of the season.

Adrian leads the way home from coffee in Saffron Walden

After coffee only Conrad wanted to carry on to lunch in Thaxted. Everyone else, it seemed, needed to get home and do other things.

Conrad set off east towards Radwinter whilst the rest of us set south, up the High Street and then down the hill to Wendens Ambo. I was in the mood for a ride at my own pace so I went ahead and followed a fairly direct route home over the hill to Littlebury Green and then through Catmere End and over Coploe Hill to Ickleton. As I rode along the clouds parted and the sun came out, turning a dull but mild autumn morning into a beautiful sunny and very mild afternoon. I briefly wondered whether cutting short the ride had been a good idea, but it was too late to change my mind now. From Ickleton I took a short diversion via Hinxton to Duxford and then along the familar road to Whittlesford and the Shelfords.

When I reached Cambridge city centre I passed John E going the other way to Brookside for the afternoon ride. However for me today's ride was almost complete, and I arrived back home at 1.20pm, having cycled 48 miles.Nigel Deakin (Nigel's GPS track is below).

Conrad adds: After coffee, I was the only one going to lunch. So while everyone else turned right from the Temeraire to return to Cambridge, I turned left and then right at the traffic lights at the bottom of the hill.

Thaxted is not far from Saffron Walden so I decided to do a loop via Radwinter and the Sampfords. I had intended to go as far as Finchingfield and then the Bardfields but just before Finchingfield, I saw a sign that said Thaxted so I turned right. After going through several very quiet back lanes, I reached Thaxted at 1230pm. It was still quite early and as I had packed my own lunch, I decided to keep cycling to Debden and eat my lunch there.

This meant climbing two hills to get out of Thaxted and into Debden, where I found the village store closed. No matter as I ate my pita brand sandwiches on a bench just off the road. I then had a decision to make. It was only 1 pm and I didn't fancy cycling all the way back to Cambridge without making an attempt to meet the afternoon riders. So I had to find a route that would take me two and a half hours to get to Ickleton.

I decided to head towards Clavering via Newport. This section was not the best route, with several climbs on the B road and the setting sun in the eyes of drivers behind me. At Clavering, I decided to get off the B1038 and go south to Berden, Stocking and Furneux Pelham, then onto the Hormeads, where I turned back towards Cambridge.

The section of the B1038 to Brent Pelham was much more pleasant and it was more quiet lanes to Langley. By this time, I was flagging but the setting sun to my left created such a beautiful landscape that I found the motivation to carry on through Duddenhoe End and up Essex Hill into Elmdon. Then the highlight of the ride was cresting the hill out of Elmdon to see a family of three deer cross the road. They were gone before I could get my phone out to take a photo.

The descent into Ickleton is one of my favourite stretches and I arrived at the Riverside Barns at 3:30 pm to find Keith, Roger, Leslie, the two Neils and John. The weather was pleasant enough to sit outside although we quickly felt the dropping temperature once the sun had set.

Tea at Ickleton Barns

I returned to Cambridge by the most direct way with Keith. Roger and Leslie were going to Babraham Park and Ride, while the rest were returning to Cambridge via Hinxton. I got home at 4:45pm having cycled 83 miles. It was much more than I had planned but it was worth it for the good weather. Conrad Chua (Conrad's GPS track is below).

View Nigel's GPS track (Cambridge to Saffron Walden and back) on a larger map

View Conrad's GPS track (Cambridge to Saffron Walden, Thaxted and Ickleton and back) on a larger map

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