Sunday, 24 April 2016

24th Apr: Sunday ride to Stradishall and Depden

This is our 1000th ride report!

Nigel writes: Although we're now almost at the end of April, the weather is still really rather cold, and it's not time to put away those winter longs quite yet. Last Sunday showed (here and here) that cold spring days can be bright and sunny, but today was not one of those days. It started off quite sunny, but after an hour or two the sky darkened, and although we never actually saw much in the way of rain, today's ride was mostly held on a cold, windy and overcast day.

Brookside, Cambridge

The weather didn't prevent a good turnout at Brookside for today's ride, though, my companions for the first stage of today's ride were Alex, Susan, English Seb, Rupert, Mike CC, Edmund, Jim, Stan and me. Noticeable by their absence, however, was John our leader, though a phone call soon established that he was on his way and running late. We agreed a rendezvous in eastern Cambridge and set off, heading across Parker's Piece and then across Midsummer Common on our way down to the river.

Parker's Piece, Cambridge

We followed the river east to Stourbridge Common and Ditton Meadows before turning away towards Fen Ditton and Quy. Somewhere along the way we were joined by John, bringing our number up to ten.

Riverside, Cambridge

At Quy we turned onto Little Wilbraham Road. This runs south-east in a straight line for almost four miles, all the way to Six Mile Bottom. Despite being almost flat this is something of a drag, and it was a relief to reach the end.

Six Mile Bottom is about nine miles east of Cambridge (the "six miles" monicker refers to the distance from Newmarket), and marks the transition point between the flatlands of Cambridge and the more interesting hills beyond (a role that Ickleton plays to the south). So this is where we started climbing, a long but fairly gentle 70m ascent to Brinkley. David W appeared at some point along this section, and disappeared a few miles later.

The long drag to Six Mile Bottom

When we reached Brinkley, Stan decided it was time for him to turn back for home, leaving the rest of us to continue on to Great Bradley for a short run along the B1061 to Little Thurlow.

Great Bradley

From Little Thurlow a pleasant quiet lane took us east for a couple of miles to the A143. We followed this for a short distance, passing Highpoint Prison along the way, and soon arrived at Adam's Cafe. This simple cafe, popular for its hearty breakfasts, is normally busy with motorcyclists but when we arrived today there were none to be seen; the only people there were Joseph and Keith.

Morning coffee at Adam's Cafe, Stradishall

Since the catering staff didn't seem to have much to do this morning I decided to order beans on toast to occupy them, and the others followed with rather lighter orders including bacon sandwiches.

After a pleasant, relaxed half hour or so it was time to continue on our way. As usual, several members turned back for home, leaving Alex, Susan, Edmund, Keith, John and me to continue on to lunch. This was in Depden, which is a mere five miles north-east along the A143, but we obviously didn't go straight there (not with beans on toast to digest). Instead John led is on a very pleasant loop to the east. This took us through Denston and Hawkedon to Hartest, where, instead of heading up Hartest Hill, we turned north-east to continue our loop through Whepstead before returning back west to Depden.

Hartest (but not That Hill)

We reached Depden Farm Cafe at almost exactly 1pm and stopped for lunch. This is one of my favourite lunch stops, probably because it is much smaller than the other farm shop cafes that we visit. Unfortunately their normal menu didn't seem to be available and instead we were presented with a rather limited Sunday menu, though it was perfectly adequate for us.

Lunch at Depden Farm Cafe

The lunch menu may have been limited, but the display of cakes most definitely was not (and neither was the portion size).

It's all about the cake, says Alex

After a leisurely lunch we set off back to Cambridge. John's route took us north-west, through Ousden, Ashley and along the B1063 onto Newmarket.

Lady's Green on the approach to Ousden

When we reached Newmarket, Keith and Alex left the group. Keith lives nearby, whilst Alex decided to head straight back along the A1303. This left Susan, Edmund, John and me to continue along John's planned route. This involved following the old NCN 51 along completely flat roads through Exning, Burwell, Reach and Bottisham. I arrived home at 4.30pm, having cycled 70 miles.

Download GPS track (GPX).

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