Sunday, 20 December 2015

20 Dec: Sunday ride to Waresley and Houghton

Nigel writes: This month is turning out to be the mildest December for many years, and the benign weather ensured a good turnout for our last Sunday all-day ride before Christmas.

There were ten of us at Brookside: Alex, Greg, Jerry, the two Sebs, David, Shiela, Edmund, Ian and me.

At the start

We set off from Brookside towards Newnham and followed the Barton Cycleway west out of Cambridge.

On the Barton cycleway

When we reached Barton we turned south to Haslingfield before turning west for a loop through Harlton and the Eversdens to Kingston.


Just beyond Kingston we joined the B1046 for a short distance, passing Bourn Golf Club where we had our Christmas lunch a week ago, and then turned off towards Bourn. We splashed through the fords at Caxton End and continued on to Caxton itself, followed a few miles later by Great Gransden.

Caxton End

The sky started cloudy and overcast but as the ride progressed the sky brightened and as we rode the final few miles from Great Gransden to Waresley the sun emerged for a while.

The road from Great Gransden to Waresley

We arrived at Waresley just after 11am and stopped for coffee at Waresley Park Garden Centre. There were several other members already there, including Mike S, Mike CC, Adrian and David W. After purchasing coffee and cake some of us sat outside on the patio whilst the rest of us judged that it wasn't quite warm enough and so remained inside.

Coffee at Waresley

After coffee we regrouped as usual, with eight of us carrying on to lunch: Edmund, Sheila, Alex, French Seb, David W, the other David and me, with Seb M, Mike CC and Ian riding with us for part of the way, and Adrian riding separately at his own pace. We rode over Lily Hill to Abbotsley and then turned north to Croxton, and Toseland. A couple of miles beyond Toseland we reached Graveley, where the road turned north-east towards Hilton and Fenstanton. Along this section we enjoyed a gentle tailwind which, together with some smooth road surfaces, allowed us to make quick work of this relatively dull area of countryside.

At Fenstanton we turned west and rode through the Hemingfords and across the Ouse Meadows to Houghton.

Across the Ouse Meadows at Houghton

About a mile beyond Houghton we reached our appointed lunch stop. This was Wyevale Garden Centre, a large garden centre and retail park on the A1123. The place was packed with pre-Christmas shoppers, with long queues of cars trying to get out of the car park. When we reached the cafe it was very busy and unappealing, so we decided to hear back to Houghton and have our lunch there.

Wyedale Garden Centre, Wyton

When we back to Houghton we stopped in the main square. One or two people went into the Three Horseshoes for lunch whilst Alex and I joined Adrian in the Houghton tearoom across the street. This was small and friendly and a good choice. Although it offered a good spread of cakes it didn't have much choice of hot meals, but a plate of scrambled egg on toast was perfectly adequate for me.

Houghton tearooms

After lunch we followed the Thicket Path to St Ives, where we picked up the busway for what I expected to be an easy ten-mile cruise back to Cambridge.

As we passed Swavesey station I pointed out the public bike pump that was installed there just over a year ago (there's a photo in our ride report for 21 Dec 2015). In the past I've remarked that I couldn't see the point of public bike pumps, given that you'd need to get a puncture right next to it for it to be any use. I was just about to repeat my view when, about ten yards beyond the bike pump, I realised I had a flat tyre.

I quickly replaced the tube, spurning the public pump in favour of my own, and we were soon back on our way. However two miles further along tyre went flat once again. Obviously I had not inspected my tyre carefully enough, and there was still a stone in the tyre. However I didn't fancy messing about with patches on a damp day like this so pumped up the tyre and limped home, stopping to re-inflate my tyre every mile or two whilst the others stood by patiently. I arrived home at 4pm, a few minutes after sunset, having cycled 57 miles.

Download GPS track (GPX).

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