Edward writes: This morning we arrived at Hauxton with the expectation of a day of pleasant riding weather ahead. Certainly it was cool early on, but the sun was out, little wind and what’s more about twenty cyclist for our trip out to Balsham and then on to Depden Farm Shop which is beyond Wickhambrook in Suffolk. Joining us for the first time were Sharon, Belinda and Clive, to whom we extend a warm welcome.
Geoff was today's leader who, incidentally, lives not far from our lunch stop, so a long day for him, but at least not all in the saddle. Inevitably we had to leave Hauxton in two groups of approximately ten in each, so we finally set off through Little Shelford and up to Whittlesford where we joined the cycleway into Sawston and then on to Babraham. In Babraham we used the farm track which has had some surfacing work done on it and is improved and is perfectly acceptable for such a short distance.
This, of course, led us into Great Abington and the first of three crossings in quick succession of the A1307.
We passed through Linton using Back Road, out over the A1307 and down to Bartlow, followed by the third crossing of the A1307 before finally reaching the turning for Balsham and the Black Bull Inn.
This was our first visit to this pub, certainly in recent years, and this coincided with another unofficial record in recent times - we had thirty-two members present. The names of all who were there are too numerous to mention, but Peter W was there with one of his last roadshows; Sunday will probably be the last opportunity to order a club top. The Bull looked after us very well despite our arriving with twice the estimated number and it was very pleasant sitting outside in the sunshine.
As usual, after coffee, there were comings and goings but at least twenty, again in two groups, set off the next leg of the journey which took us down to West Wratting to be rejoined by Peter W, this time on his bike, and then on to Weston Colville and Carlton Green before joining the delightful trip through to Little Thurlow. This road is often commented on in the Sunday and Thursday blogs and it certainly deserves its reputation. Soon after leaving Thurlow we reached the A143 which took us past the prison and Adam's cafe before turning off to head into rural Suffolk.
As is the way of things the second group didn’t follow the correct route and consequently ran up a further six miles to reach Depden. This wasn't wasted time as we were able to follow some very quiet country lanes, including a false lead where the sign seemed to point to Wickhambrook but swiftly deteriorated into a bridleway forcing us to turn back. We eventually reached Wickhambrook and, by taking the road to Hargrave we finally saw the water tower which meant we were nearly there.
Depden quickly followed where we arrived a little late at 1.30pm and 38 miles on the clock.
Arriving late didn’t really matter as with such a large group getting everybody served was never going to be quick. Again it was very pleasant sitting outside, even if there was a little more cloud than earlier in the day.
After lunch we set off in two groups with the second leaving at about 2.40pm, having received our route instructions from Geoff. Rupert really led the second group for this afternoon session and we went through Chedburgh and Chevington, two villages not often visited on these Thursday rides. The fields around are an abundance of yellow as the oil seed rape is now in full flower and as the daffodils fade away they are replaced by tulips making it all very colourful, and we are starting to see cowslips in the grass verges. The bird watchers amongst us reportedly heard chiffchaffs, willow warblers and a wren all very pleasant background music to our ride.
This is a particularly pleasant part of the county and we came to Hargrave followed by Ousden and then on to the fringes of Cheveley followed by Little Ditton and Woodditton. Now back in Cambridgeshire we were soon going through Stetchworth and downhill to Dullingham. Rupert left us here and the last of the group, still about ten strong, headed across the hills towards Weston Colville and West Wratting for the second time today and on to Balsham. Now we were in sight of journey’s end as we ran down to Hildersham and back into Great Abington, over the farm track, Sawston, Stapleford and Great Shelford. Those completing the full circuit back to Hauxton would have achieved a very creditable 70 miles. Our thanks to Geoff for another very good Thursday outing, especially for the distance he would have covered to make it possible. Edward Elmer
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