Thursday, 26 June 2014

26 Jun: Thursday ride to Horseheath and Great Bardfield

Edward writes: This Thursday we met in Hauxton with another day delivered for the purpose of cycling, i.e. warm, virtually no wind and no rain predicted - ideal. Amongst the sixteen who met today we had the pleasure of welcoming three newcomers and these were Stuart and, riding a tandem, Graham and Christine. I suppose we've had tandems before on a Thursday, but this was the first one in recent years. Leading us today for our ride out to Horseheath and Great Bardfield was Averil.

Setting off at Hauxton

We set off promptly at 9.30 am and rode out through Little Shelford and Whittlesford where we joined the cycleway over to Sawston, waited for a London train to go through before going into the village and rejoining the cycleway to Babraham.

Sawston

In Babraham we used the track through the farm and the footbridge over the A11 to bring us into Great Abington.

Crossing the A11 between Babraham and Great Abington

This brought us to the A1307,which we crossed, and then took the road round the back of Hildersham for the turning which climbs for two miles up to Balsham. We regrouped here and then made our way to West Wickham, Streetly End and then Horseheath arriving at the Old Red Lion at 11 am.

Balsham

As we have said before the Old Red Lion is a very popular stop and once again it didn't disappoint with cakes brought out with the tea and coffee. Needless to say several others had made their own way there such that we had twenty two enjoying the sunshine out on the terrace.

Horseheath

As is the way of things we had to move on, probably reluctantly in some cases, and we left Horseheath at 11.45 am and took the track that allows you to cross the A1307 and into Cardinal's Green and Mill Green and part of Shudy Camps followed by Castle Camps. The warm sunshine has turned the fields of barley a golden colour and the wheat also is coming along nicely, and also very noticeable are the many fields growing field beans. Next up was Helions Bumpstead and now we were deep into the countryside; we crossed the B1054 and this left us with the very rural five miles to Finchingfield which, no doubt, will be a highly sought after vantage point for the Tour de France.

Towards Finchingfield

Great Bardfield is the next village along and the Blue Egg farm shop is barely a mile outside the village where we arrived at 1 pm - Averil's timings still spot on!

Great Bardfield

The Blue Egg seems to be a cyclists' mecca as there were plenty of them coming and going as we sat outside in the sunshine for lunch. At 2pm it was time to go again and we started off by going back to Great Bardfield and then to Little Bardfield and once again into really very beautiful green and undulating countryside with, at times, glorious views. After Little Bardfield Jacob and I dropped back from the main group but we pedalled on happily enough as we made our way to Thaxted. Averil had told us the route back so we had no concerns and when we reached Debden we saw three distinguished looking gentlemen enjoying an ice cream at the village shop. We joined them and it turned out the three were Malcolm, Geoff and David W, so we also enjoyed an ice cream break. We finished our ice creams and started off again at 3 pm to head for Saffron Walden arriving just as the County High School was turning out. We turned into Chestnut Avenue and sadly nearly all the chestnut trees were affected by the blight we have seen in recent years, so it seems their future doesn't look very promising; several have already been felled and replaced. This brought us to Catmere End and then over Coploe Hill into Ickleton, Duxford, Whittlesford and Great Shelford. This was ride of a regulation 57 miles and a special thanks to Averil for making it all possible. Edward Elmer


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