Adrian writes: Eleven members, Mike C, Ed, David W, Craig Frances (with Molly their dog in her basket), Roger and Lesley, Steve G, Vic S, John T and me arrived at Maidwell picnic area in Northamptonshire for today's car-assisted ride. The start point is on an old railway line, now NCN 6. With perfect weather all day, sunshine and hardly any wind we knew this was going to be a lovely day out compared with the last time we did this route.
We headed north under the A14 and entered the first of the two tunnels that we would be riding through before coffee. The surface inside both was very uneven and quite slippery from the water dripping off the roof. Both tunnels are unlit, but most of us had brought our own lights and all got through without any problems.
After the second tunnel we looked out for the sign to a café which is beside some fishing lakes. This had fallen down and was lying in the hedgerow but luckily everybody found the café and we sat outside enjoying the coffee and cakes in the sunshine.
After coffee we carried on north along NCN 6 into Market Harborough and then along the towpath of a branch of the Grand Union Canal that goes to Market Harborough Basin in the town.
We followed the canal north towards the bottom of Foxton Locks but stopped on the way to mend Vic's puncture.
After Foxton Locks we went north on the main canal to Debdale Wharf where we left the canal and used a bridleway to the village of Smeeton Westerby. I had been thinking of having lunch in the pub there but as it didn't open for another half an hour so we decided to carry on to Saddington, the next village, and visit the pub there that we had used in the past. When we arrived some ordered food and sat outside while the others ate their sandwiches in the garden.
After lunch the route was all on road, we went via Shearsby, Upper Bruntingthorpe, Walton, North Kilworth and then onto the village of Sibbertoft which has a village hall open for tea and cakes which of cause we used as we have done on previous trips, the ladies are very friendly and the cakes lovely just like our local church hall teas.
After Sibbertoft we went south to Naseby but on the way David had a puncture. I stayed with him to mend it and told the others to carry on as up the road about a mile was the Battle of Naseby Monument and they could wait for us there. David repaired the puncture and we soon caught up with the others and carried on to Naseby village.
We stopped in Naseby to see if anybody was in a hurry to get back home as there is a road that goes straight back to Maidwell but everybody was keen to carry on cycling and sp we carried on via some very hilly roads through Thornby to Guilsborough where David had yet another puncture in the same wheel. After close inspection he found the tyre wall was split, but luckily he carries a spare tyre and we were soon on our way again.
We rode through Teeton then east up another hill to Spratton and towards Brixworth. This took us close to another steep hill which no-one was looking forward to climbing, but fortunately when we arrived at the NCN 6 railway path we were able to follow it north along the flat back to our start point.
It was after 6pm when we got back home. The distance today was not high (about 50 miles) but everybody said they had had a good day. Thanks to all those who came. Adrian Lee