Sunday, 19 October 2014

19 Oct: All-day ride to Stradishall, Clare and West Wratting

Nigel writes: Today's ride started at 9.30am, an ominous reminder of the dark days to come since we'll be maintainign this new time throughout the winter. Today's however was far from wintry: a lovely autumn day with plenty of sunshine and quite warm despite a persistent south-westerly breeze. Our leader today was Andy, whose first act of leadership was to delegate to Rupert the task of piloting us through the local streets and paths of Cambridge east to Cherry Hinton and Fulbourn.

The Tins, Cambridge

With Andy resuming the role of leader we continued through the Wilbrahams to Six Mile Bottom and then up the long, gentle, climb to Brinkley. As is usual for the first stage of these rides, our progress was leisurely as we concentrated more on chatting to old friends than on going quickly.

Climbing from Six Mile Bottom to Brinkley

After Brinkley the road levelled off. Andy led us on to Great Bradley before turning towards Cowlinge.


A short time later we arrived at Adam's Cafe. This is advertised as being in Stradishall but is actually two miles to the west, on the A143 next to Highpoint Prison. This is one of those roadside cafes which on a Sunday morning is frequented by two rather different tribes ot road user: burly motorcyclists in heavy black leathers, tucking into huge fried breakfasts, and skinny cyclists sipping coffee and nibbling a biscuit. Already at the cafe were about eight members of the club who had made their own way there.

Morning coffee, Stradishall

After coffee about half the combined group turned back to Cambridge leaving about eight of us to continue on to lunch in Clare. We first retraced our steps to Cock and End before turning east to Farley Green before meeting the A143 once more near Stradishall crossroads. We followed the A143 for a few hundred yards before turning right to Denton and Hawkdon.

Half-way between Denton and Hawkedon we paused to re-group, and I took the opportunity to ride ahead to allow me to take a short break behind a tree before stopping in Hawkedon to wait for the others. I waited for ten minutes, decided the group must have taken a different route and so carried on to Clare on my own. In fact the others hadn't taken a different route: they had stopped for a puncture. But none of this mattered; I knew exactly where to go and enjoyed a quiet solo ride along the lovely narrow lanes from Hawkedon to Glemsford. From there I continued to Cavendish where I crossed the main road (into Essex) for a loop via Pentlow before arriving at Clare at about 1.15pm.

I was the first to arrive at the Bell Hotel so I ordered my baked potato and beans and sat down to wait for the others. After a while the other arrived and joined me.

After a late lunch we turned back north-west in the general direction of Cambridge. It was almost 2.30pm when we set off, directly into a headwind, so it was probably just as well that we didn't have far to go before our tea stop in West Wratting.

Andy led us a fairly direct route via Hundon, Barnardiston and Great Wratting and then across the great expanse of Wratting Common to West Wratting, where we stopped for a pre-booked tea at The Chestnut Tree. A few moments later we were joined the afternoon ride, led by Ian.

Afternoon tea, West Wratting

After a very pleasant fixed-price tea of sandwiches, cakes, tea and coffee we returned back to Cambridge. As usual the group fragmented somewhat with different people taking different routes. I joined Ian and most of the afternoon ride for a short loop via Weston Green and Weston Colville before a rapid descent to Six Mile Bottom.

I arrived back home at 5.40pm, having cycled 70 miles. With sunset still twenty minutes away, it was still bright, sunny and very mild. A great day's cycling on the last Sunday of British Summer Time.

Download GPS track (GPX).

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