Sunday, 31 August 2014

31 Aug: All-day ride to Nuthampstead, Aston and Royston

Nigel writes: After a couple of weeks of unseasonably cool weather (and a washout bank holiday Monday), August has ended on a high point, with a very pleasant warm and sunny day. There were eight riders at Brookside for today's ride: me, Neil, Rupert, Graham, Seb, Mike CC, newcomer Phil C, and Gareth who had kindly offered at short notice to lead the ride. And an excellent day's cycling it duly turned out to be.

On the busway spur to Addenbrooke's

We set off south out of Cambridge, along the busway to Addenbrooke's and then south along the DNA path to Great Shelford.

We continued on our regular route south through Little Shelford, Whittlesford and Duxford to Ickleton and then over Coploe Hill to Catmere End. We use this route so often that I joked with someone that we should refer to this as "CTC Cambridge route 1".

After Catmere End we deviated from this familiar route, turning west to Littlebury Green and along rather less well-ridden lanes to Duddenoe End.

Duddenhoe End

We continued south through Langley Upper Green and Langley Lower Green to Meesden before turning west to Anstey and finally north towards our coffee stop in Nuthampstead.

Between Anstey and Nuthampstead

At Nuthampstead we found about five members already drinking coffee, including Mick C, Edward, Adrian, Doug and Vic.

Coffee and route planning in Nuthampstead

After coffee it turned out that most riders were heading back to Cambridge, leaving just Phil and me to follow Gareth on to lunch in Aston. Adrian and Doug said they would make their own way there.

Getting ready to depart after coffee at Nuthampstead

Gareth chose a very pleasant route for this relatively short section, taking us to Buntingford and then through Aspenden, Westmill, and Great Munden (and Nasty!) to Dane End before turning back north to Bennington and Aston.

Our lunch stop today was the Pig and Whistle in Aston, a small village just outside Stevenage. After a while we were joined by Adrian and Doug, making five of us in total.

The pub had told us that sandwiches would be available, and it turned out that this consisted of generous plates of sandwiches and slices of pizza served not just to us but to everyone else in the pub, essentially as a promotional offer by the landlord. Despite there being a lot of food available, the staff didn't seem especially concerned to charge for it, and when we asked the landlord how much we should pay, he suggested that £5 would be enough - for all five of us. So at £1, this was my best value pub lunch ever.

After lunch we split into three, with Phil leaving us to return to Cambridge and Doug and Adrian making their own way to tea in Royston. This left just Gareth and me remaining on the "official" ride.

It was still only 1.45pm and Royston wasn't very far away so Gareth led the two of us south for a loop along unfamiliar lanes through Datchworth, Bramfield and then along half a mile of bridleway to Watton at Stone.


This section of the ride was delightful, no doubt partly due to a tailwind but mainly because the earlier clouds had disappeared and the sun was now shining brightly through the trees which lined this smart and prosperous corner of Hertfordshire.

Bridleway north of Great Gobions Farm, between Bramfield and Watton at Stone

After Watton at Stone we were riding north once more, more or less directly into the wind. Back on familar roads onc emore we continued north through Walkern, Cromer and Rushden before turning north-east to Sandon and Therfield and the enjoyable descent down to Royston Heath.

After a brief diversion in north Royston to inspect a recently-opened cycle underpass under the railway, we arrived for tea at Tina's house at about 3.40pm. We were twenty minutes early and Tina was still busy making sandwiches but these were soon complete and we were soon joined by various other members including a large contingent on the afternoon ride.

Getting ready to set off after tea in Royston

After a typically delicious and convivial tea we all set back to Cambridge via Kneesworth, Shepreth, Barrington and over Chapel Hill to Haslingfield and Barton. I arrived home at 6.30pm, having cycled 86 miles.

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

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