Sunday, 9 February 2014

9 Feb: All-day ride to Saffron Walden, Nuthampstead and Foxton

Nigel writes: Today was dry, sunny, cold (but not uncomfortably so), and very windy. And it was the wind that was the dominant feature of the day: a relentless south-westerly blowing at about 25mph for the whole day. Fortunately it didn't bring us any rain, so we were spared the storms that have plagued the west of the country in recently days.

Not surprisingly the turnout today were inevitably reduced from last week's impressive figures, with only four riders at Brookside for today's all-day ride: Wendy, Neil, Tom and me.

Heading south out of Cambridge along the busway

I was the leader today, and with the morning coffee stop in Saffron Walden took a relatively direct route there: along the busway and DNA path to Great Shelford and then through Little Shelford, Whittlesford and Duxford to Ickleton.

After Ickleton we climbed Cople Hill and followed the ridge to Catmere End. Here it started to drizzle and I was braced for a passing shower, but it dried up with a couple of minutes and despite the forecast of passing showers we encountered no further rain the whole day.

From Catmere End we dropped down along Chestnut Avenue to Audley End. We rode past the house, which was still wrapped in scaffolding, and climbed the short hill into Saffron Walden where we stopped for morning coffee at The Temeraire. Waiting inside the pub we found David and Chris.

After coffee Neil and Wendy set off back to Cambridge leaving Tom, David, Chris and me to continue on into the wind towards lunch in Nuthampstead. We set off south out of Saffron Walden along Debden Road towards Debden.

Near Debden

At the crossroads north of Debden we turned west to Newport and from there continued west along the B1038 to Wicken Bonhunt. I had originally planned to turn south at this point but with the wind slowing our progress I decided to cut short our ride and take a direct route instead. We therefore continued along the B1038 to Hill Green on the edge of Clavering before turning right onto quieter lanes to Meesden and Nuthampstead.

Anstey

We arrived for lunch at The Woodman in Nuthampstead at 1.15pm. This is a pleasant pub which seemed very popular both with drinkers and diners.

Lunch at Nuthampstead

After lunch we set off on towards tea in Foxton. David left the group to make his own way back leaving me to lead Chris and Tom back south to Anstey and Meesden before turning north to Langley. It was just as windy as before but once we had turned north it was mostly behind us, and with the sun now shining brightly in a mostly clear sky, with no prospect of any rain, it was a beautiful afternoon.

We continued through Duddenhoe End and dropped down to the B1039 before climbing back up to Chrishall. From here it was downhill to Chrishall Grange and then along the flat to Fowlmere. A few minutes later we arrived at Sue's house in Foxton, where a splendid tea was waiting for us. Several other members were already there and after a while we were joined by John F and the afternoon ride.

Tea at Sue's in Foxton

After a relaxed and convivial tea we all thanked Sue and made our various ways home. John said he would be leading the afternoon ride home via Fowlmere and Newton so I suggested to Tom that the two of us return via Barrington, Chapel Hill, Haslingfield and Barton.

We encountered flooding between Foxton and Barrington where the road crosses the river Cam or Rhee, but it was only an inch or two deep and we could ride through without difficulty. At 5pm the sun set and it quickly became dark for the final miles into Cambridge. I arrived home at 5.45pm, having cycled 60 miles.


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