Thursday, 21 May 2015

21 May: Thursday ride to Saffron Walden and Great Bardfield

Edward writes: At last a break in the weather and a day came along which was ideal for cycling and in sharp contrast to last week's dismal weather. This morning it was sunlit blue skies with a little cloud cover, warm and to everyone's relief no discernible wind. Thus it was that nineteen riders assembled in Hauxton with many taking the opportunity to admire Greta's wonderful garden before setting off on our ride out to Saffron Walden for coffee and then on to Great Bardfield for lunch.

Greta's in Hauxton

Going to Saffron Walden really only means one way and so we went out through to Whittlesford, the A505 and then crossed into Duxford and in the interests of variety we went through the factory area and the ford to Hinxton and then round to Ickleton which probably adds about a mile to the more direct route from Duxford to Ickleton.

Hinxton Ford

This now meant Coploe Hill and on this sunlit day all around looked a treat with the yellow oilseed rape still looking its best standing out against the rapidly growing wheat and barley fields; certainly May is a beautiful time of the year with all its variety.

Coploe Hill

Coploe Hill

After arriving at Catmere End we then joined Chestnut Avenue with the chestnut trees looking splendid in full blossom for the run down to Audley End mansion and the last climb into Saffron Walden and the Temeraire for our coffee break.

Coffee in Saffron Walden

Already there were about six others and we were all able to sit outside and enjoy the new surroundings following the recent refurbishment. They have extended the patio area and laid artificial grass and it is now a much improved sitting out area - nice weather also helps.

Coffee in Saffron Walden Photo: David Wooldridge

As usual about half a dozen left us after coffee leaving a large contingent to head off to Great Bardfield. Just as we were about to leave Geoff discovered a puncture in his front wheel but Mike C and Adrian were soon on hand and after about fifteen minutes we were on our way again. We left Saffron Walden along Debden Road and went through the village and now started to experience the undulating nature of this part of Essex.

Between Saffron Walden and Debden

After Debden we turned right and headed towards Henham and meanwhile Adrian took Jacob, Mike CC and Doug on a slightly shorter route which probably included some of Adrian's beloved 'rough stuff'.

Approaching Tilty

After the rest of us had passed through Henham we joined the B1051 heading east until we came to Broxted and then on the very narrow road to Tilty where it seemed everyone was in favour of stopping to look at the church which is near to the original site of the eleventh century monastery (dissolved in 1536) some of whose ruins still stand.

Tilty Church

This was all very enjoyable and after about fifteen minutes we set off again through Tilty, Duton End and onto the B184 for a short while before turning into Little Cambridge, Gallows Green Road through Lindsell and the final two or three miles into Great Bardfield and the Blue Egg arriving at the later than usual time of 1.40pm.

As usual the Blue Egg was busy and we found Adrian and friends already enjoying lunch and our group of fifteen sat outside with packed lunches or ordered from the restaurant. By about 2.30pm it was time to go again and we went back into Great Bardfield and turned onto the narrow lanes through Waltham's Cross and into Finchingfield but not before receiving a volley of abuse from a driver - these narrow lanes make overtaking a very precarious business.

In the lanes near Finchingfield

After Finchingfield we eschewed the usual route past Spains Hall and instead chose the slightly longer route to Steeple Bumpstead via Cornish Hall End where sadly we lost Mike CC and two others who had fallen off the back and evidently took a wrong turning. From Finchingfield to Steeple Bumpstead is a long haul and also into the wind which had picked up slightly during the day making it quite hard work for four or five miles. Next came Helions Bumpstead and another deviation from our normal route as we chose the route through Olmstead Green which may only be one or two houses it being such a small settlement. Nevertheless it is a particularly pretty and isolated route with few if any cars.

David in Helions Bumpstead

This brought us to the junction for Ashdon and Bartlow where Rupert realising the time was 4pm felt that we should go via Bartlow rather than Steventon End and Ashdon in order to be home more quickly. Needless to say we were all aware that the beer festival was exerting a greater pull on Rupert's desires than finishing the ride along the designated route.

Approaching Steventon End

This left about ten to go via Ashdon and then Bartlow but the good news was that Rupert came across Mike CC so all of us were accounted for. The ride was nearly at and end as we went into Linton and then to Hildersham where David W led a group via the A505 cycleway to Sawston and on to Hauxton while the remaining four went via Little Abington and the farm track into Babraham and Sawston. We finished the ride in Great Shelford and 68 miles at 5.15 pm. With such good weather and quiet country roads we could hardly fail to have a good time. Edward Elmer

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