Thursday, 4 December 2014

4 Dec: Thursday ride to Ashwell and Barkway

Edward writes: Although the overnight temperatures had stayed above zero degrees we all arrived at Haslingfield Green in very raw conditions and it certainly felt very cold. The sky was leaden and the air had a damp, misty feel about it, but still eighteen cyclists arrived ready for today's ride out to Ashwell for coffee then on to Barkway for lunch. Today Jacob was at the helm and regular riders might have been wondering if he had off road plans in his thoughts, even though his other off road pals, Adrian and John F, were not on this ride.

Chapel Hill, Haslingfield

Not unexpectedly we set off with a climb up Chapel Hill where we found the normal views obscured by the weather conditions.

Chapel Hill, Haslingfield

We came into Barrington and then did the loop round Orwell and back down to Meldreth where we formed a long, single line as we tried to minimise any delays to the passing motorists. We left Meldreth and climbed up Mettle Hill past the Showmen's Guild site to Kneesworth and then Bassingbourn and stayed on the main road to bring us to Litlington.


By now it felt very cold, with the temperature at about 3 degrees centigrade, but fortunately there was little or no wind which today was from a cold east. We soon came to Steeple Morden and then Ashwell for coffee which, experimentally, was the little shop called Rhubarb and Mustard. This was all very nice but probably a little small for our needs which caused some to go down the road to Day's Bakery and probably a coffee under the tree on the little green. The shop was very nice and friendly, but maybe more important than the coffee, was to feel warm again.


Once coffee was over Jacob assembled us all outside a lovely old timber-framed building ready for the next session which started with a climb out of the village on the road towards the railway and the A505. At least the climb got our circulation going again as we came to the A505, which wasn't too busy, and took the road which would lead us to Sandon and Therfield.

Sandon Turn

All around us looked bleak under the dark skies and we all felt the chill in the air. We pressed on through Sandon, soon followed by Therfield and then Buckland on the A10.


A few yards on the A10 and then we were on the road to Barkway which in these conditions seemed as if we were crossing a moor rather than East Anglian agricultural land. At 1pm we arrived in Barkway and the Tally Ho pub and a chance again to get warm and enjoy our lunch break.

Those who ate in its restaurant enjoyed a good meal but those who brought sandwiches had to endure the outside for a little longer before going inside for a warming drink and to stand by the open fire.


When we left at 2pm the light was already going and there was also a slight drizzle in the air so Jacob led us on a slightly more direct route home that he had originally planned. Thus we climbed past the golf course and on to Nuthampstead and then Barley where we joined the B1368 for the final descent of the day down to Flint Cross and the A505. This, of course, took us into Fowlmere and Newton where we said goodbye to those going back to Haslingfield leaving a small group to go on to Great Shelford and lastly Cambridge by about 3.30pm.


Despite the unpleasant weather we all enjoyed our day and a special thanks to Jacob, who didn't take us off-road, for a great route which took in many rural, traffic free lanes. Everybody would have cycled over 50 miles. Edward Elmer

Download GPS track (GPX).

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