With weather such as this it was no surprise that at least twenty cyclists assembled at Haslingfield Green for today's ride out to Clavering for coffee and then on to Green Tye for lunch. Our designated leader for today was Craig but as he lives in the Clavering area it wasn't expected that he would come all the way to Haslingfield just to ride back again.
For the ride out to Clavering I took over the leadership and we set off from Haslingfield with two groups and headed back to Harston where we crossed the always-busy A10 and then climbed the hill and then down to Newton. Craig had asked that we take a direct route to Clavering as the post-coffee ride would be in excess of twenty miles. An examination of the map and with the help of Mapometer it seems that whichever way you go, avoiding main roads, the distance is always eighteen miles.
Anyway we left Newton for Thriplow and then Fowlmere and out to the A505 and still successfully in two groups. We reached Chrishall Grange and there followed the long drag up to the turning for Heydon where we paused for a breather and regrouping as the hill had spread the field somewhat. When we left the Heydon turning the two groups became very unevenly matched with only five in the first group. However, we carried on and went through Chrishall and down to the B1039, the Royston to Saffron Walden road, and we turned towards Saffron Walden but after about a mile turned up to Duddenhoe End.
There are two turnings up to Duddenhoe End and it wouldn't be the Thursday group if we all took the same one and so the inevitable happened with both routes used. Luckily this was no great disaster as the two roads soon join up again on the far side of the village allowing us to press on with the very pleasant ride to Arkesden and then Clavering arriving at the Christian Centre shortly after 11am.
Coffee at Clavering Christian Centre
The Clavering Christian Centre is located in the Methodist Chapel and they are open every third Thursday in the month and this was our first visit and very successful it was too. It's very much based on the Swavesey model with an abundance of home made cakes which looked delightful. There was modest charge of £1.50 for a coffee and a slice of cake - how reasonable is that! There was a temptation to stay too long but Craig was now at the helm and so we left the chapel a few minutes before midday.
Preparing to leave Clavering
We headed south to the Berden turning and then did a loop round Rickling, Rickling Green and then back to Manuden, all on very pleasant narrow lanes.
Still travelling south we joined roads seldom, if at all, used on Thursday rides as we cycled through Benfleet, Stansted and then on to Birchanger where we stopped to check on the suitability of the attractive looking Three Willows Pub (another pub which seems to reflect the cricketing tradition in these parts), and the nice welcome Sue got when she went in to enquire makes it look like one to be considered.
Three Willows Pub in Birchanger
At Birchanger we briefly split as some took a track down to the old A120, which is now the B1256, whilst the rest played safe and went down to the A120 near to the M11 and we threaded our way over all the motorway slip roads to meet the other group at the pre-arranged meeting place, and we actually met! We now followed the road down to Great Halingbury and Little Halingbury where we met up again with Adrian and Curly who had had a puncture and had taken a slightly shorter route.
We crossed over the railway and made our way to Spellbrook heading in a westerly direction which meant we had passed round Bishop's Stortford to its south. In this direction we faced the wind for the first time today and it made for slightly harder going as we crossed open country and finally into Green Tye and the Prince of Wales pub just before 2 pm and 37 miles since leaving Haslingfield.
Six people ordered lunch with everybody else having sandwiches which we all took in the little pub garden. We still had eighteen people and those that finished lunch early set off for home as by now it was getting quite late leaving nine to set off with Craig a little later at 3 pm. Our route home turned out to be as direct as we could make it, going through Much Hadham and then Little Hadham and the notoriously long wait to get over the A120 and this was followed by the long climb through Albury, Gravesend to Stocking Pelham. Craig said goodbye to us here and thanks are due to him for taking us on something of an adventure as we explored the roads south of Bishop's Stortford and also taking us to the Chapel in Clavering which made for a very pleasant coffee break.
The few remaining went to Brent Pelham, Meesden and Anstey, although David W led a small sub group on a slightly different route, presumably also by Anstey. We soon came to Nuthampstead and then Barley and leaving the hills behind as we sped down to Flint Cross and the A505. Fowlmere followed, Newton and Great Shelford where we finished the ride after 65 miles since leaving Haslingfield. Edward Elmer
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