Sunday, 14 February 2016

14 Feb: Sunday ride to Melbourn and Buntingford

Nigel writes: Today was a dry and sunny day but the dominant aspect of the weather today was a cold, northerly wind which brought rather lower temperatures than we have had in recent weeks, around 5-6C for most of the ride and falling to 2C for the final few hours. There was a good turnout at Brookside for today's ride, fourteen in total including Conrad, our leader for today.

The start at Brookside

Conrad led us into the city centre and then west along Garret Hostel Lane, over the River Cam and onto Burrells Walk. With Conrad in the lead I knew we were in for an excellent day's cycling.

Conrad leads the ride over the River Cam in Cambridge

Crossing the River Cam in Cambridge

As usual, I sprinted ahead of the group so that I could lie in wait to take photos when the ride came past. I was waiting with my camera in Adam's Road when I noticed that the group had stopped on the other side of Grange Road. I cycled over to find out why and discovered that Conrad and an oncoming cyclist had collided on (or near) the narrow wooden bridge where the cycle path crosses the Bin Brook. Conrad had received a few cuts and bumps, and his bike was slightly damaged, so it was decided that he should return home with Rupert and Mike CC, and I would lead the group on to coffee. The other cyclist appeared unhurt and was able to continue his journey. (Conrad has since provided an update in the comments below).

Conrad had briefed me on his route to coffee earlier so I was able to take the same route as he had planned. This involved following a necessarily circuitous route so that we wouldn't reach our coffee stop in Melbourn too early.

Roadside sculpture in Comberton

We continued west along the Coton path to Coton. There we turned south to meet the A603 at the Barton Road roundabout and then followed the Barton cycleway to Barton and a few miles of B1046 to Comberton. There we turned left into Swayne's Lane. There is a large stone sculpture of a face here, and althrough this is clearly visible from the B1046 several members had never noticed it - which is an excellent reason for stopping and taking a proper look. (Photo above)

The minor road leading south from Comberton

From Comberton we cut south back towards the A603. We crossed the main road, continued along Washpit Lane into Harlton and turned left to to Haslingfield.

Turning onto Washpit Lane towards Harlton

We climbed Chapel Hill: a short but steep climb to an elevation of about 67m, followed by a long and enjoyable descent down to Barrington, with the northerly wind blowing us on our way.

Chris storms down Chapel Hill towards Barrington

We continued through Barrington to Shepreth and then crossed the A10 to reach the Phillimore Garden Centre on the northern edge of Melbourn at about 11.05am. Already at the cafe we found Ian D, Adrian, Mick, Vic and Stuart,

Coffee at Philimore Garden Centre

After coffee several members set off back towards Cambridge, and some went off on their own, leaving Ian D, Tom, Clare, Chris, Sheila, Nick (who had chosen to ride a recumbent with a front transparent fairing for his first ride with us), Eva and me to continue on to lunch in Buntingford.

Ian immediately discovered a puncture but waved us on to continue without him. The rest of us followed a route I had hastily plotted over coffee. This involved heading west through Kneesworth, Bassingbourn, Litlington and Steeple Morden to Ashwell before turning south to the only point where you can cross the A505. After crossing this very fast dual-carriageway we continued on through Sandon to Buntingford.

The chalky uplands south of Ashwell

The section of route between Ashwell and Buntingford is particularly quiet and pleasant, and rather more hilly than earlier. The pace of the ride was relatively slow and we were delayed by me incurring a puncture along the way, with the result that it was almost 2pm when we arrived in Buntingford. We stopped at Buntingford Coffee Shop and I stepped inside. Ian D was there eating his lunch, but the place was quite full with people enjoying a Valentine's Day lunch so I took the group to another cafe a few doors along.

Whereas Buntingford Coffee Shop is a stylish modern cafe, the "World Kitchen" is a traditional cafe and kebab shop. However it was empty when we walked in and offered a large menu. We could have chosen that cyclists's favourite, baked potatoes, but as it was quite a cold day most of us were in the mood to indulge in rather more hearty food and I ordered a fried breakfast. With friendly staff and food that was entirely satisfactory (and generous in quantity) this turned out to be a perfectly acceptable alternative to the coffee shop nearby.

Late lunch at "World Kitchen" in Buntingford

Our lunch spot in Buntingford

We left the cafe at 3pm and set off back towards Cambridge. The direct route home would have entailed following the B1368 almost all the way, so I quickly rejected this as being dull and boring. Instead we followed a route which I had hastily plotted over lunch and which, whilst still being relatively direct, took us along what I think are some of the nicest lanes in the area.

Eva in Wyddial, Nick following

The sun was still shining quite brightly, but with sunset only two hours away it was low in the sky, casting long shadows across the roads and rendering the Hertfordshire countryside a beautiful golden colour.

Our route took us east through Wyddial, Anstey and Nuthampstead to Shaftenhoe End. Here we crossed into Cambridgeshire and climbed up to Great Chishill. We continued to Heydon and Chrishall before dropping back down to Chrishall Grange. The final leg home took us along Grange Road to Duxford and then along the familar route through Whittlesford and the Shelfords back into Cambridge.

Nick on his recumbent in Anstey

This would have been a delightful ride home, except for the fact that we were now riding directly into a gentle but bitingly cold headwind. The headwind itself didn't slow us down very much, but the cold wind combined with the inevitable late-afternoon temperature drop made the ride home a bit of slog and as sunset approached my fingers began to get quite cold.

Tom and Clare on their tandem, Chris following, approaching Nuthampstead

I arrived home at 5.50pm, rather later than in recent weeks, having ridden 65 miles.

Download GPS track (GPX).


  1. Thanks for leading the ride on my behalf. The bike was more than slightly damaged with the downtube and fork slightly bent. Rupert and Mike CC were kind enough to accompany me to the Mike CC's car and Mike CC very kindly drove me home and then to Addenbrookes where I got checked out. Nothing more than a swollen nose.

    PSA :- always wear a helmet (sorry for the anti-helmet faction) and be careful of that narrow cycle path near the UL. My garmin data showed I wasn't going that fast but there just wasn't enough time to avoid the other cyclist.

    Finally thanks once again to Mike CC, Rupert and Eva for checking in on me.

    1. Hello Conrad. I`m glad that you`re ok. I`m not aware of any anti-helmet faction in Cambridge C.T.C. I personally decided not to wear one ,its my choice. Steve.

  2. Thanks to Nigel, Sheila and all for welcoming to my first CTC run in many years.