Sunday, 7 February 2016

7 Feb: Sunday ride to Gamlingay and Hinxworth

Nigel writes: Today was yet another rather mild day in what has been a remarkably mild winter so far, though we quickly discovered that the warmth of the early morning sunshine was completely offset by a cold southerly wind which blew into our faces for most of the morning. Nevertheless, it was not a bad day for a bike ride and when I arrived at Brookside I was joined by Edmund, Tom, Rupert, Ian W, Seb and Alex our leader.

Lammas land, Newnham

We set off west from Brookside, along The Fen Causeway and across Lammas Land to Barton Road. However Alex declared that he was bored with the Barton Road cycleway and so when we reached the junction with Grange Road we turned north and picked up the Coton cycleway for our route out of town.

On the Coton cycleway

After Coton we climbed Madingley Hill using the cycleway alongside the A1303 and, when we reached the top, turned onto the old St Neot's Road.

Madingley Hill

The old St Neot's Road used to be the A45 to Birmingham, and although it is now much quieter and used mainly by local traffic it visually still has a bit of a "main road" feel. Nevertheless it's a very useful route and today we followed it to Hardwick (where a pause for Tom to fix a puncture allowed us a brief rest from the wind) and on as far as the turn to Bourn. There we said goodbye to Ian and headed south into Bourn before turning west once more onto the road to Caxton.

Before we had set off, Alex had shown us his latest gadget: a tiny GoPro camera which he had mounted on his rear rack pointing backwards, and which automatically took a photo every thirty seconds.

On the Caxton Road (Rack Cam photo by Alex Brown)

When Alex got back home he discovered that a bungee cord had obscured part of the frame and he could only use a small part of the image. Nevertheless it provides an interesting camera position and should give us some good photos in the future. (Photo above, more photos below).

Between Great Garsden and Waresley

We continued from Caxton to Great Gransden where we turned onto the rather nice lane that leads to Waresley.

Approaching Waresley (Rack Cam photo by Alex Brown)

Between Great Garsden and Waresley

We reached Waresley at about 11am. After 90 minutes cycling into the wind we were ready for a break, but today we were not due to visit the garden centre here. Instead we joined the B1040, enduring the full force of the southerly wind for the final two or three miles to Gamlingay and our coffee stop at Woodview Farm Cafe.

Breakfast in Gamlingay

Already in the cafe was Adrian, and a few minutes later we were joined by Conrad and by Mike. Although the cafe serves a good selection of cake, most of us were in the mood to order from the extensive breakfast menu instead.

After about half an hour we were ready to set off once more, with Alex, Edmund, Seb, Adrian, Mike, Seb, Conrad and me carrying on to lunch in Hinxworth, leaving Rupert and Tom to enjoy a wind-assisted return to Cambridge.

Cockayne Hill

We continued south along the B1040 to Potton and turned east towards Cockayne Hatley and Wrestlingworth. This gave us the opportunity for a brief respote from the wind and a lovely wind-assisted ascent of Cockayne Hill.

Cockayne Hill

Cockayne Hill (Rack Cam photo by Alex Brown)

Wrestlingworth was followed by Eyeworth where we turned onto a minor road towards Ashwell. I remember this as a lovely quiet lane, but today it was another slog into the wind and its delights were rather lost on us. But apart from the wind, it wasn't a bad day: dry, mild and bright, and in any case we didn't have far to go before we arrived at Hinxworth and, a few minutes after that, at Farrowby Farm where we stopped for lunch.

Lunch at Farrowby Farm, Hinxworth (Photo: Seb Cosnefroy)

After lunch at Farrowby Farm, Hinxworth

Setting off from Farrowby Farm

After lunch we set off back east towards Cambridge. At last we had the wind behind us, and our speed increased markedly: instead of plodding along at 10-12 mph we were sailing along at up to 20mph. We returned to Ashwell and then took a direct route east via Steeple Morden, Litlington, Bassingbourn and Kneesworth.

Northfield Road, Ashwell (Rack Cam photo by Alex Brown)

We crossed the A1198 and continued eastwards to Meldreth, Shepreth and Barrington. As we cycled through Barrington (the longest green in England, Alex reported) Alex announced that after climbing Chapel Hill to Haslingfield, instead of our usual and oh-so-boring route via Barton he would be turning right for Harston and the A10. I countered with an alternative proposition, which to turn right in Barrington to join the A10 at Foxton. This would allow us to try out the newly-opened cycleway along the A10 between Foxton and Harston. It would also allow us to skip Chapel Hill, not that this was my purpose, oh no...

The new Foxton-Harston cycleway along the A10

The new cycleway was wide, smooth and straightforward, and is extremely welcome. Currently it ends just south of Harston and the route through Harston remains a choice of a poor-quality pavement cycleway or a rather unpleasant main road. Fortunately it was Sunday afternoon and traffic was light, and we were able to remain on the road without any unpleasant moments or close passes. Just north of Harston we left the A10, completing our journey into Cambridge by following the track across Trumpington meadows and cycleway along the the guided busway. I arrived home at 4pm, having cycled 58 miles.

Download GPS track (GPX).

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