Sunday, 9 March 2014

9 Mar: Sunday ride to Nuthampstead and Ardeley

Nigel writes: Today was the day we dream of during the dark, cold days of winter: the first day of spring, a glorious day of clear skies and bright sunshine and with temperatures so warm that we were soon removing layers of clothing and riding in shirtsleeves and shorts. Not surprisingly the good weather brought a good turnout with about sixteen riders at Brookside for today's ride.


Conrad was our leader today, and with such a large group he appointed Rupert to be back marker. He led us south out of Cambridge along the busway and DNA path to Great Shelford, where we joined the road to Little Shelford.

Little Shelford

When we reached Little Shelford we turned right into the village and continued west to the junction with the B1368. We turned left and followed this road south through Newton before turning off for Thriplow. As we rode through that village we passed hundreds of daffodils planted along the verge getting ready to bloom for the daffodil festival in a month's time.

Thriplow

At Fowlmere we rejoined the B1368 which we followed south-west to Flint Cross. We crossed the A505 and after a further half mile turned left onto the long straight road which climbs gradually up to Great Chishill, the highest village in Cambridgeshire.

Climbing up to Great Chishill

Heydon Road Great Chishill (Photo: Graham Hughes)

Everyone like to climb hills at their own pace, and our long group soon became strung out along the road. We paused at the top by the church in Great Chishill for everyone to catch up.

Great Chishill

From Great Chishill the only way is down, in this case down along an exhilarating switchback descent to Shaftenhoe End. There we turned left for Nuthampstead and after a final few miles along some lovely quiet  lanes we stopped for coffee at The Woodman. When we arrived at the pub we found a large group of members already there.

After coffee we continued south to Anstey where we paused briefly whilst some members went into the church to inspect the stained glass window which commemorates the airmen who were based at Nuthampstead airfield during World War 2.

Stained Glass in Anstey Church (Photo: Graham Hughes)

Stained Glass in Anstey Church -detail (Photo: Graham Hughes)

(For more photos of the window see our report from 27 June 2013)

Anstey

Then we split into two groups, with Rupert leading a group back towards Cambridge via Langley and Coploe Hill, and Conrad leading a rather larger group on towards lunch at Ardeley. I rode with Conrad's group.

We joined the B1368 yet again for a short distance to Hare Street where we turned right for Buntingford. There our group subdivided, with Adrian leading one group on a relatively direct route west to Ardeley whilst Conrad tool the other group south for a relatively fast loop through Aspenden, Westmill, Nasty, Dane End and Benington.

Benington

At Benington we turned onto a short length of bridleway to Walkern Hall.

Bridleway to Walkern Hall (Photo: Graham Hughes)

Walkern Hall

We rejoined the road and after another mile or so reached Walkern, where we splashed through the ford.

Walkern

A few minutes later we arrived in Ardley and stopped for lunch at Church Farm. It was 1.20pm. This is a farm shop and restaurant, and today was extremely busy.

Church Farm, Ardeley

Unfortunately the number of customers rather overwhelmed the staff and our food - which was quite good -  took a very long time to arrive. This meant it was 3.20pm by the time we were finished and ready to continue on our way.

Not that it mattered. The sun was still shining, the temperature was still warm, and we would have a tailwind almost all the way home.

Conrad led us north through Rushden and Redhill to Slip End, where we crossed over the busy A505 dual carriageway and continued north to Ashwell. There we turned north-east and sped along briskly through Steeple Morden and Litlington to Bassingbourn.

We crossed over the A1198 at Kneesworth and continued north-east through Meldreth and Shepreth to Barrington. With 60 miles behind us the ascent of Chapel Hill was slightly more tiring than usual but after the descent down the other side to Haslingfield we didn't have much further to go.

A rare shot of Nigel on Chapel Hill (Photo: Graham Hughes)

Our final few miles took us to Barton and then back into Cambridge along the Barton Road cycleway. The temperature was still warm, and sun still shining, when I arrived home at 5.30pm, having cycled 70 miles.


View this GPS track on a larger map. Download GPS track (GPX)

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