Sunday, 2 August 2015

2 Aug: Sunday all-day ride to Depden, Lavenham and West Wratting

Nigel writes: Today's ride was a delightful summer's day spent touring the lanes of deepest Suffolk, visiting some of our favourite refreshment stops along the way. This was not a surprise, since east is easily the most promising direction for day-long rides from Cambridge, so with fine, warm weather in prospect, I knew we were in for a lovely day. I wasn't the only one who knew this, of course, and when I arrived at Brookside for the start of today's ride I found eight other members waiting to join me: Seb, Eva, Jim, Ray, John R, Alex, Charlie and Joseph our leader.


Our coffee stop this morning was to be at Depden Farm Cafe, about 25 miles to the east. We set off from Brookside and followed our usual route east out of the city. This took us down to Midsummer Common and then along the river to Fen Ditton where we turned east to Quy.


We continued north-east to Bottisham and Swaffham Bulbeck (somehow losing Eva and Jim along the way) and then turned south-east for Dullingham. At least that's the route recorded by my GPS: as usual, we spent the first hour of the ride chatting amongst ourselves, leaving navigation to the leader and paying little attention to which village we happened to be riding through.

It was whilst we were riding along the road to Dullingham that a very pleasant conversation with Charlie was suddenly interrupted by the tell-tale feeling of rim against asphalt. I had a puncture.

Nigel fixes a puncture (Photo: Alex Brown)

I'm probably not the fastest person to do this, but I don't think it took me very long to remove the wheel, change the tube and pump up the tyre, and after about fifteen minutes we were back on our way.

Up to Dullingham (Photo: Alex Brown)

After Dullingham we continued through Stechworth and Woodditton to Saxton Street, and then along a succession of much less familiar lanes to Ousden, Hargrave and eventually Depden.

It was about 11.35am when we arrived at Depden Farm Cafe. Eva and Jim, who we had managed to lose earlier, were already there and enjoying coffee and cakes. I went in and ordered coffee and a slice of roulade, whilst several of the others ordered full English breakfasts in recognition of the late hour.

Late breakfast at Depden Farm Cafe

This is a lovely cafe, with friendly staff and rather nice food. I had been here for lunch several times before, but this was the first time I had been here for coffee.

Preparing to set off from Depden Farm Cafe (Photo: Seb Macmillan)

It was after 12pm when we were ready to set off again. We said goodbye to Jim and Seb who were returning home and pressed on east towards Lavenham.

We knew we were running quite late, partly due to my puncture but mainly due to the fact that we had such a long way to go, but no-one seemed to be concerned: it was a lovely warm day, the roads were quiet and pretty, and we were all in an relaxed, sociable mood. After a very pleasant loop east and then south we arrived in Lavenham just before 2pm.

Several of us sat in the main square, eating sandwiches in the hot sun, whilst others called into the National Trust tea room adjacent.

After lunch in Lavenham

We set off again at about 2.30pm for the return journey to West Wratting where we were due to stop for tea. Highlights of our route west included a fast descent of Hartest Hill, one of the few hills in the area which merits an arrow symbol on OS maps.

We reached West Wratting at about 4.25pm and stopped for tea at The Chestnut Tree. This had been booked for 4pm so we were 25 minutes late. However when we arrived we found six members sitting inside, most of whom had ridden there directly. They told us that tea had been rescheduled for 4.30pm and the afternoon ride had gone off for an extra loop. A few minutes later they arrived back, led by Mike K. This was our cue to make a start on the large spread of sandwiches and cakes that had been prepared for us.

Preparing to set off after tea at West Wratting

After a relaxed and sociable tea we set off back to Cambridge. Most people followed Mike back via Six Mile Bottom and Quy whilst I took a slightly shorter route via Balsham and Fulbourn with Alex and Charlie. A lot of members don't like this road but today it offered us a delightful fast descent along smooth, empty roads. The only dull section is the straight, level, section between the A11 and Fulbourn; it's barely a couple of miles, so my usual strategy to combat the boredom is try to gain as much speed as possible on the descent from Charterhouse Bridge and use that momentum to keep my speed above 20mph all the way to the village sign on the outskirts of Fulbourn. Today we had the help of a slight tailwind, and with a bit of mutual drafting the three of us achieved this comfortably.

We continued to Cherry Hinton and from there into the city. I arrived home at 6pm, having cycled 84 miles.

Download GPS track (GPX).

1 comment:

  1. It was a fantastic day for a bike ride, and a great advert for the Sunday all-day ride. I hope we can keep them going, at least some Sundays in the summer. Sorry to have missed you at Lavenham, but Keith and I needed to get moving as we wanted to do a longer route to West Wratting via Foxearth and Stoke-by-Clare. My report is here on my blog.