Thursday, 21 April 2016

21 Apr: Thursday ride to Gamlingay and Henlow

Edward writes: This Thursday we met in calm, overcast conditions with a gentle north easterly breeze which, early on least, was quite nippy. Mike C led the village group with about fifteen and Rupert took a group of half a dozen from Brookside. Today our visits would include LJ’s at Gamlingay, which is certainly a Thursday favourite, noted especially for its bacon sarnies; after coffee lunch would be The Five Bells in Henlow.

Leaving Haslingfield

Because of the number, from the beginning we separated into two roughly equal groups with David W leading the second group. Our journey began through Harlton, over the A603 and into the Eversdens. The early part of the ride was roughly northwards making the cool wind more noticeable, but it was never a problem.

Little Eversden

Approaching Kingston

When we turned south westerly at Caxton it made the ride down to Great Gransden very much easier. As we approached Great Gransden we turned into Sands Lane allowing us to travel through Little Gransden on the way to the turning for Gamlingay.

Kingston to Bourn


Great Gransden

Rather than go directly into Gamlingay Mike branched off to the left which took us over the now sadly dismantled railway from Cambridge to Bedford which it appears in the plans for reinstatement, but it would be unlikely by this route as Gamlingay station is now houses! This brought us to Hatley Road and less than a mile later we arrived in Gamlingay and the ever-popular LJ’s at 10.50am, just ahead of the city start group, permitting us to be at the head of the queue for the bacon rolls. Although this is a small establishment they go out of their way to make us feel welcome and they were well organised to deal quickly with a sudden rush of about thirty cyclists, including Doug and Richard M.

When it was time to begin the second session Mike took the first group and Rupert the second. We left Gamlingay by Heath Road which brought us to Everton and a fun high speed ride down Tempsford Hill only to be held at the level crossing for three trains to pass. As we cycle along its easy to observe the march of the season as the oil seed rape has turned many of the fields yellow, plus the wild flowers appearing on the grass verges. It’s a shame that the sun, despite one or two half-hearted tries, couldn’t quite make a breakthrough as it all would have looked so much better under bright sunlight. We crossed the A1 and went through Blunham and Moggerhanger where we travelled down Budna Road to Northill and Ickwell where the maypole is up, presumably ready for a Mayday event. We went through Old Warden and Southill and some attractive quiet roads via Clifton before arriving in Henlow with immaculate timing at 1pm. A minute or so later Rupert brought in his group - and photographic evidence shows he was tucked in with them and not far ahead in the distance.

The Five Bells is a very busy pub and we thought it best not to book as we could only offer them an unspecified number, which if the weather was bad might have meant them turning away business. In the event this worked quite well as many people had brought a packed lunch which was taken in the park opposite the pub. A small group did go to the pub and were able to find a free table and by all accounts they were very well looked after.

Arriving in Henlow

For the return journey we left a little after 2 pm and this started with a trip north along the B659 as far as Langford where we turned east for the climb up to the water tower and the A1. In contrast to last week where the Balsham wind turbines were not turning these at Langford were beavering earning their keep.


We were now on a well-worn route through Edworth and Hinxworth before arriving in Ashwell where Andy and Sarah left us for a cross-country route back home. Steeple Morden and Litlington came next and Rupert and his group left us here as they took the more direct route into Bassingbourn whilst Mike took his group on the loop round Abington Pigotts to reach Bassingbourn.



We finished the ride through Meldreth, Shepreth, Barrington, Chapel Hill arriving back in Haslingfield shortly after 4pm and 59 highly satisfactory miles. Thanks to Mike for the route and to his able assistant, Rupert. Edward Elmer

Download GPS track (GPX).

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