Thursday, 2 June 2016

2 Jun: Thursday ride to Horseheath and Clare

Edward writes: If this is meant to be flaming June then something or somebody must have got some wires crossed because it was grim weather when ten riders met at Hauxton. These were near-winter temperatures and almost everyone had gone back to winter wear for this ride to Horseheath and Clare, with Edmund making his debut as the Thursday leader. Not content with overcast skies the weather people slung in a brisk northerly wind and all this probably accounted for the relatively low turnout, and as we found out later only four started at Brookside.

When we got going we headed southwards to Whittlesford. With a following wind it was soon a case of "what's not to like?" as we made rapid progress to join the cycle path to Sawston. Along the way we were joined by Jill and Jim (old friends of Greta) who had come up from Stevenage.

At the level crossing between Whittlesford and Sawston we had to wait for a while for the returning Stansted Express to crawl through, despite a green signal up ahead. If Andy had been with us no doubt he could have explained why that should be. Anyway we got through to Sawston high street and eased our way through the traffic up to Pampisford and then along the A505 cycle path to Abington.

Sawston Level Crossing

When we got to Hildersham, Ian W peeled off to follow his own course to coffee while the rest of us climbed up the hill to Balsham. At least with such a brisk wind the turbines were earning their keep and if Rupert came this way with the city start he would have been overjoyed to see so much green power generation. With the wind behind us we didn't really need much power and we soon covered the two miles of climbing to Balsham. From now on it was all easy through Balsham, West Wickham and Streetly End and we arrived at Horseheath just after the city four had arrived. With those who came out independently there were probably twenty all together, no doubt eagerly anticipating all the different cakes the Old Red Lion lays on for us.



Approaching Balsham

Sitting inside in the warm it was easy to forget how unpleasant it is outside but as soon as we finished coffee it was soon apparent that the weather hadn’t improved. Some, of course, went home and about sixteen set off in two groups to make our way to lunch. This started through tiny hamlets like Cardinal's Green and Mill Green, and grown-up villages such as Castle Camps and Helions Bumpstead.

Helions Bumpstead

Along the way the sun found a crack in the clouds and for a while it looked like the weather would brighten up but the sun soon gave it up as a bad job and went back into hiding; at least the wind was still following us. After we passed through Steeple Bumpstead we could now enjoy the quiet countryside in this Essex and Suffolk border area. Even if the sun didn't shine we could still enjoy the May-blossom as we passed through all the country lanes on the way to Ridgewell which sits on the A1017. This put us on the final stretch of the morning session as we passed through Aspen and the rolling roads all the way to Clare where we arrived just after 1pm.

No bookings are made in Clare as many of us like to sit in the country park with sandwiches and go for a cup of tea afterwards. However, we did let the antique shop and tea room know that we might call in and so some had lunch there and were joined later by the sandwich brigade.

Leaving Clare (with Sarah looking pleased_

At 2pm we started the return journey, although Adrian had left a bit earlier to make his own way back and this may well have included some off-road work which he loves. Andy and Sarah also went their own way and this left thirteen to head towards Chilton Street which is north of Clare and directly into the wind, but we gradually turned towards the west and it all became a bit easier, especially as there is plenty of hedgerow protection.

The sun had another look but decided against it and gave up for the day. We went through Brockley Green and Kedington, over the A143 to Great Wratting. It was here that Rupert led his city group, now grown to six, towards Little Thurlow and Carlton and Edmund led his group of seven to Withersfield, where the map reveals that during the day we had completely circumnavigated Haverhill.

Now we had a four mile ride into the wind all the way over Wratting Common to West Wratting, but this eased as we turned south-west for Balsham and back down the hill to Hildersham. We finished the ride through the farm to Babraham, Sawston and Great Shelford which gave a round trip of 60 miles, finishing just after 4pm. Our thanks to Edmund for a good ride and a successful debut. Edward Elmer

Download GPS track (GPX).

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