Sunday, 30 March 2014

30 Mar: Sunday ride to Waresley, West Perry and Houghton

Nigel writes: Today was the day the clocks went forward by one hour, which meant the 9:30am start of today's ride was actually 8:30am by our body clocks. Despite the early start, I was joined at Brookside by six other riders: Cheryl, Eva, Neil T, Neil S, Pete H, and Margaret on her first Sunday ride with us. The weather was promising: rather dull and cloudy but not cold and with only a light wind.

Brookside

We set off west out of Cambridge along the Barton Road cycleway which we followed to the edge of Barton where we turned right onto the B1046.

Barton Road Cycleway

The roads seemed very quiet this morning, perhaps because everyone else had compensated for the hour lost overnight by getting up an hour late. We continued through Comberton to Toft, where we turned off for the customary diversion along the tiny winding lane that leads past the church and then back onto the main road.

Toft

We turned off the B1046 into Bourn and then took the road to Caxton. We continued towards Great Gransden but when we reached the edge of the village we turned left onto Sand Road for a short diversion via Little Gransden. This took us past the Little Gransden Windmill where we paused briefly before continuing.

Little Gransden

A few minutes later we arrived at Waresley where we stopped for coffee at Waresley Park Garden Centre. Here we found about a dozen members already enjoying their morning coffee and cake. Also there was Peter W our "jersey officer" with his travelling roadshow selling club jerseys.

After coffee Neil T, Margaret and Peter H left us to return to Cambridge whilst we were joined by Mick, David, Mike C, Mike S, Zhiqing and Robert. We left the garden centre and took the lane which leads over Lily Hill towards Eynesbury on the edge of St Neots.

Waresley to Eynesbury: Lily Hill

We crossed St Neots using the Willow Bridge. This cycle bridge from Eynesbury to Eaton Socon across the River Ouse has transformed the experience of traversing St Neots because it allows us to cross almost the whole town without riding on roads.  Before long we through the town and cycling along the quiet road that leads west to Bushmead.

Waresley to Eynesbury

At Bushmead we turned north towards Staughton Highway. There we crossed the B645 and continued north on a quiet lane which leads past Littlehey Prison to West Perry.

Staugton Highway to Littlehey Prison

At West Perry we stopped for lunch at the Harbour View Cafe on the south shore of Grafham Water. This restaurant is a club favourite mainly due to its simple menu, its low prices and its pleasant location. However today they seemed rather overwhelmed by the additional Mothers' Day custom and, although the restaurant didn't look particularly busy, we had to wait for up to an hour for our food.

Eventually our food arrived and afterwards it was time to set off once more. We turned east and cycled  along the the dam to the visitors' centre on the east shore. This took us past the excellent bike shop there but we didn't stop and carried on north to the village of Grafham.

Grafham Water: along the dam

The road from Grafham to Brampton was lovely and quiet, but as always we had to pay the price of such a pleasant route by cycling into Huntingdon afterwards. This involves following some fairly busy local roads but fortunately it is possible to stay on pavement cycleways for almost all the way from Brampton, through Huntingdon, and then out to Godmanchester. Although these cycle paths are mostly inconvenient and poorly designed our traverse of the Huntingdon was stress-free and uneventful.

Huntingdon

After riding through Godmanchester we turned onto the path which crosses Eastside Common to Hemingford Abbots, and our route became very pleasant once more.

Eastside Common, Hemingford Abbots

We crossed the Ouse Meadows to Houghton Mill and we stopped for tea at the National Trust cafe. This was my first visit to this simple cafe, which I must have cycle past dozens of times without realising it was here. This stop wasn't on the runslist but it allowed us to break what would have otherwise been a 32-mile stage from West Perry to Cambridge.

Houghton Mill

After a brief but pleasant stop, where we sat outside by the river, we carried on along the Thicket Path to St Ives and then along the busway back to Cambridge. I arrived back hone at 5.35pm, having cycled 66 miles.


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