After a short breather we got under way again and a few climbs and descents later we came into Saffron Walden having gone down Chestnut Avenue and past Audley End Mansion.
In contrast to last week we all sat outside on the patio at the Temeraire and enjoyed the warmth of the sun. After coffee a number returned home, including Sue, Yasmin, Greta and Mike B which gave a group of sixteen, including Doug, Craig and Martin who had joined us at coffee, to carry on to lunch. Getting out of Saffron Walden nearly always involves a climb and ours was on the road to Debden, another road with many undulations.
After Debden it was straight through to Thaxted and what little wind there was helped us along quite quickly.
We used Thaxted as another chance to regroup before setting off for Great Bardfield which we soon reached via Little Bardfield.
Soon after leaving Great Bardfield we joined the very pleasant, narrow lanes which lead to Shalford. It's always nice cycling through here even if today it was quite wet and muddy in places and giving way to the odd tractor or two and a refuse truck, but we still made it. A quick ride up to Shalford and we joined more narrow lanes and some of these were running with water so required careful riding as there was also mud but with care we got through safely and when we emerged onto more regular roads we turned for Blackmore End.
We were now in territory not often, if at all, covered by our Thursday rides as we progressed to Toppesfield. Although this was the next village it took a long time to reach it, but who was worried, we were travelling through delightful countryside and everything seemed to combine to make this a particularly pleasant part of our trip. Eventually we did arrive in Toppesfield and now there were only two miles to Great Yeldham and the Waggon and Horses for the luncheon interval.
We were given a friendly welcome by the landlord and most of us had baguettes or jacket potatoes and this was all perfectly pleasant; those who had brought a packed lunch were able to sit out in the garden and enjoy the still warm sunshine. The pub certainly lived up to its billing as being cycle-friendly as the notice outside says.
About 2.30 pm it was time to leave and here Craig and Martin left us to make their own way home leaving a group of thirteen to set off for home through Tilbury Juxta Clare and Ashen followed by a descent to Stoke by Clare. We left the main road and headed for Kedington and this is climbing all the way and an specially steep climb at the start. From here we were able to look down on nearby Haverhill but we were enjoying delightful country lanes cycling through the ever changing fields as new crops form a sheen and oil seed rape is well on the way. We now circled round the east and north of Haverhill as we passed through Kedington, Great Wratting and Withersfield. After Withersfield we came to Wratting Common where Rupert, Adrian, Mike CC and Ian left us and the last nine went to West Wickham and Balsham where David M left us, and the descent down to Hildersham. The final leg of our journey took us along the new cycle way beside the A505 and the sound of roaring traffic again, Babraham, Sawston and Great Shelford. This left Andy to escort Sarah, Belinda and Sharon back to Hauxton where they would have completed 70 miles.
We arrived back at 5pm and our thanks to Richard for giving us such a splendid day out showing the value of researching the route and ride testing it beforehand. Another plus was we didn't lose anybody and nobody took it upon themselves to go ahead and take a wrong turning! Edward Elmer
Download GPS track (GPX).