Edward writes: When we gathered at Haslingfield Green it was under a clear blue sky with a slight breeze from the west and, at this hour, still a bit cool. The forecast, however, was for this to be a cloudy day and later on this proved to be the case. In the event twenty two arrived for the start of our trip out to Benington, which is close to Stevenage, with a coffee stop to Nuthampstead; today we welcomed Gregg who was making his debut as a Thursday rider.
Averil was our leader for the day and she led us away in two groups out to Harston where we crossed the A10 and went over the hill into Newton. This lead us down the B1368 to the turning into Thriplow, scene of the recent daffodil weekend, and on to Fowlmere.
We crossed the A505 and came to Chrishall Grange which heralded the start of the day’s climbs as we approached Elmdon and the higher points of the county.
As we passed through Great Chishill Sue came across a friend and decided to spend the day cycling with her whilst the rest of us now joined the undulating and very attractive ride to Shaftenhoe End. It was here that we passed bluebells growing in the woods which was in sharp contrast to the scene half a mile earlier where we passed a huge fly tip, which is a really dispiriting sight.
More hills and climbs with seas of the yellow oil seed rape either side of us brought us to The Woodman in Nuthampstead for our first break of the day. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, we could see no sign of the rhea which is on the loose in these parts and making a name for itself in the national media.
We were joined by a few more at Nuthampstead, including Myrtle and it was good to see her riding again. It was still sunny so most people sat outside and others who stayed inside took the opportunity to look at the fascinating photographs of the time the American Air Force flew form here during World War II. We left the pub and went via Anstey, but unfortunately missed a turning which meant we had to do half mile or so on the B1368 before regaining the road to Wyddial which soon took us to Buntingford.
Once through Buntingford we were back into the country again and passing through Aspenden, Westmill and Nasty on our way to Dane End. We were now travelling more or less in a southerly direction, and with the many hedgerows, the wind was not a real presence. With the turning to Whempstead we were now at our most southerly point and now we started to head in a more northerly direction with the prospect of the wind helping us home after lunch. The next couple of miles brought us to Benington and The Lordship Arms where we arrived at exactly 1 pm such was the precision of our leader’s planning!
When we arrived it was still fairly sunny which encouraged many to sit outside but during lunch the wind got up and the sun disappeared so we went back into the pub for a coffee or a beer. At 2pm we left Benington and made our way towards Walkern where Averil led us on an unmade road through the grounds of Walkern Hall before bringing us back on to the road which took us through Cromer, Rushden and Redhill, not quite as large as their namesakes. All this is delightfully rural and at was not long before we crossed the A505 for the last of the hills before entering Ashwell.
Here one or two succumbed to the prospect of a cream bun at the bakery and these were left to enjoy the fare as the rest pressed on to home. From Ashwell to Cambridge is a familiar track and we passed through Steeple Morden, Litlington, Bassingbourn, Meldreth, Shepreth and Barrington, for the really last climb of the day, over Chapel Hill and into Haslingfield and the ride’s end. Our thanks to Averil for a splendid ride which covered some roads not often visited; all this and 59 miles - a good day. Edward Elmer
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