Two groups, one led by Rupert (risky!) set off from Hauxton taking in Newton, Thriplow and Fowlmere before reaching the A505. This is basically travelling south and therefore into the wind which, fortunately for us wasn't strong, and didn't feature as part of our day.
From Fowlmere towards the A505
When we reached Chrishall Grange we knew we were in for a slightly longer ride to Newport rather than the well used route over Coploe Hill. So now we faced the long climb up to the Elmdon turning at the end of Hertford Lane.
After a short rest we reset the two groups and progressed through Chrishall and then down to the Saffron Walden to Royston road where, after about a mile, we turned to climb up to Duddenhoe End. The weather by this stage had started to look less benign and one or two threatening looking clouds came into view. Another couple of miles brought us to Langley Upper Green where a motor mower was busy keeping the cricket field looking in good shape, there being a strong cricketing tradition in this part of Essex.
Langley Upper Green
Three more miles brought us to Clavering, just by the Cricketers public house and restaurant, leaving us to join the B1038 for the ride through Wicken Bonhunt and finally into Newport, arriving at 11.30 am.
At Dorrington's we found Craig, David M and once again Greta, having made her own way out. The staff dealt with all our requests quickly and we were soon sitting around, both inside and outside, with our refreshments.
Purton End between Saffron Walden and Debden
Soon it was time to go as there were still more than twenty miles ahead of us before reaching our lunch stop. After a number left us to return home seventeen were therefore in for the long haul and it wasn't long before some may have regretted their decision. We had left Newport on Debden Road and as we turned to make the climb up to the village we were hit by the most torrential deluge. Although it didn't last long it was long enough to saturate everybody and we wondered if it was localised enough for those returning home to have missed it. Some took refuge in a bus shelter until it all passed over, before moving off again.
Sheltering in Debden
Just beyond Debden we took the turning for Henham. This starts off as Henham Road then becomes Chickney Road as it approached Henham.
The turn for Henham after Debden
However, before we reached Henham we turned off south and headed to the B1051, joining it at Sucksted Green, where David W punctured, and then down to Broxted Brick End and on to Tilty where road works forced us to turn to Great Easton rather than Duton Hill. This hardly mattered as after Great Easton came Lindsell and the Lubberhedges Lane for the long cross-country ride through attractive narrow lanes which brought us to the short off-road section into Andrew's Field, arriving shortly before 2pm and with 41 miles behind us.
Probably because we were later than usual the airfield was very quiet with only three motor bikes on show. This was good for us as food arrived quickly for those ordering a lunch. Once again we were looked after by the friendly staff who help make this one of our favourite destinations.
By 2.45 pm everyone was ready for the journey home and to begin we did a loop round Bardfield Saling and came across a man with a chainsaw who was creating a totem pole out of an old tree trunk; this looked a fascinating occupation.
Mike admires a totem pole
Great Bardfield followed next, Little Bardfield and even Bardfield End Green which is just prior to Thaxted where we stopped to regroup.
With a following wind we soon reached Debden which seemed to have successfully dried out after this morning's deluge. Soon we were in Saffron Walden where Sue had a puncture, but Mike was on particularly good form and he fixed it in near record time. We left Walden by going past the mansion and then the climb up Chestnut Avenue to reach Catmere End where we stopped to put on our waterproofs as the dark clouds decided to have the last word of the day and provided us with another drenching. We finished the ride over Coploe Hill, Ickleton, Duxford, Whittlesford, arriving at 5.30 pm in Great Shelford.
This was a really good day out - we covered 74 miles and were particularly well led by Alex who raced ahead at important junctions and ensured everyone made the correct turning, and he was also busy at the back ensuring that everyone was accounted for. Edward Elmer
Download GPS track (GPX).