We left Hauxton in two unevenly matched groups, the first group of twelve and a second group of five! As we set off the rain became more persistent and it would be with us for the first hour of our ride which started by going out to Newton, Thriplow and Fowlmere.
We went out of Fowlmere to the A505 and then over to Chrishall Grange ready for the climb up to the Elmdon turn where we caught sight of some of the back markers from the lead group. We, in the second group, paused here for a minute or two and by now we could see some breaks in the sky which gave us hope that we were over the worst of the rain.
Next we came to Heydon and Great Chishill and then into rolling hills and great views as we passed through the small hamlet of Shaftenhoe End and soon we were on the road to Nuthampstead.
By 11.15 am all of us had arrived at The Woodman for our coffee stop where we were joined by about four others making a very large group who had ignored the damp start to the day. It was all very cozy in the pub with a warm fire on the go and we enjoyed a pleasant half hour or so before it was time to get under way again.
B17 Flying Fortress - Nuthampstead
Leaving The Woodman at Nuthampstead
As usual a few left us to return home and a sub group of four or five led by Jacob, took a shorter and gentler ride to Braughing. This still left a dozen or so to head away from Nuthampstead and thus we twisted our way down to the B1368 which we crossed for the ride into Wyddial and still going through a beautiful winter scene which showed the many colours of leaves still on the trees and we observed the new growth in the fields really coming on so quickly.
We passed through the quiet village of Wyddial and next came the small town of Buntingford before turning due south at Aspenden. Travelling south we went through Westmill and Nasty where we witnessed a crow harassing a red kite.
By now the weather had improved considerably and it was very pleasant as we came to the turning for Puckeridge and now we enjoyed a particularly nice ride as we descended to the dual carriageway of the A10 which we had to cross on foot in order to get to Puckeridge. This is very similar to the crossing of the A1307 at Horseheath. Once in Puckeridge it was barely a couple of miles up to Braughing and the Brown Bear for lunch, arriving spot on 1pm.
We found the Brown Bear, which is under new management, very hospitable. In fact this was only their second day of serving food and everybody who ate thoroughly enjoyed their choices. With a log fire burning and the warm welcome our lunch break was very enjoyable and we agreed that we should come back here rather more frequently than we have in the past.
Leaving the Brown Bear at Braughing
At 2pm it was time to set off for the afternoon session and once again Jacob led his little band of four on presumably a more direct route home. This still left thirteen to follow Mike as we set the course for Furneux Pelham with its curious writing on the church tower.
Furneux Pelham Church: "Time Flies - Mind Your Business"
In fact we did the hat-trick with the Pelhams as we also went through Stocking Pelham and finally Brent Pelham.
After all the rain the roads were filthy and unusually very busy with more than usual amount of traffic, including some big trucks causing us to pull over to allow them to get by. We eventually came to Langley Lower Green and after the hill to Langley Upper Green where we stopped for a minute or two and appreciated the almost total quietness.
Langley Upper Green
Duddenhoe End came next and with the end of the north Essex hills and the climbing mostly behind us we came to lower elevations, albeit with a short climb into Chrishall and then down to Chrishall Grange. Rather than go back on the same route we used in the morning we went down Duxford Grange into Duxford and up to the A505 (very busy), Whittlesford and finally Little Shelford where the ride effectively ended with some going back to Hauxton and the remainder home via Great Shelford finishing at 4pm. Those going back to Hauxton would have had a round trip of 53 miles and we must record our thanks to Mike for a very well researched and successful ride which took us through delightful countryside and spirits were not at all dampened by the unpleasant morning weather. Edward Elmer
Download GPS track (GPX).