I set off from home in Swavesey down the Guided Busway and along to Brookside where, despite the poor weather forecast, I found several riders all set to take on the challenging ride into hilly North Hertfordshire. Included in this group were two relative newcomers to CTC Cambridge – Sabine and Gina.
The weather was mild but windy and we knew that at some stage we would be hit by rain. So in total 11 of us set off from Brookside where, having spoken too soon, it had started to rain and we had all donned waterproofs.
We followed the usual route out of Cambridge along the DNA cycleway and down to the Shelfords. Winding our way through Newton and into Fowlmere we crossed the busy A505 where we stopped to remove rain-gear and started the climb up to Chrishall Grange. This was to be first of a good number of hills encountered throughout the day. From Chrishall we continued onward and upward into Heydon where it is interesting to note that Holy Trinity church, in the centre of the village, was seriously damaged in a bombing raid in 1940. The south arcade was undamaged as was the chancel (which is from 1866) but the north aisle and the nave were entirely rebuilt. Heading toward Shaftenhoe End we could see the gathering storm over to our right which was steadily coming our way. The dark clouds and rain hit us so we stopped once again to don waterproofs.
I had planned to follow John F's route which would have taken us through some of the lovely North Hertfordshire villages such as Nuthampstead, Anstey and Great Hormead. However, it was clear that the nasty weather conditions and the steady stream of hills had slowed our progress. So, not wanting to miss our planned tea-stop I decided to take the quickest route to Braughing along the B1368 through Barkway, Hare Street and Hay Street. We arrived at Braughing Church Hall at 4pm for a very welcome mug of tea and several slices of home made cakes. Already there were Gareth and Alex from the all-day ride. Also joining us was Joseph who had made his own way there. This tea-stop is most definitely one of our favourites with a sizeable slice of cake only costing £2 and with tea and coffee at 60p with refills at 30p – great value and much needed sustenance.
Getting ready to set off for home after tea in Ashwell
Time to depart came around all too soon and so 14 riders left just after 4.30pm. The weather was now slowly improving so we decided to stay off the B1368 and instead stick with quiet country lanes. This took us through Furneaux Pelham, Stocking Pelham, Brent Pelham, Meesden. From here we followed the general route of the London to Cambridge ride through Langley Upper Green, Duddenhoe End and over the final climbs of the day Essex Hill and Elmdon Hill – much to the delight of Sabine and Gina!!!
From here we were back into the flatter terrain of Cambridgeshire and so we sped along through Ickelton and Duxford crossing the A505 and on back though the Shelfords, down the DNA and arriving at Cambridge train station around 6.50pm. Here the remainder of our group split up to go our separate ways home.
The round trip from Cambridge was a very commendable 52 miles.
The weather had not spoilt what was eventually a lovely ride through South Cambridgeshire and North Hertfordshire – parts of the country which are surprisingly hilly.
I would like to thank everyone who turned out to ride - it was a pleasure to lead a group that stayed together throughout the day with everyone enjoying the company of others.
Finally I would like to congratulate Sabine and Gina who never complained about the hills and finished with a smile! John Ross