Thursday, 13 April 2017

13 Apr: Thursday ride to Ashwell and Ardeley

Edward writes: In the city Mike P looked after a group of nine and out at Hauxton Edmund had to deal with a group of twenty-one for our ride to Ashwell for coffee and Ardley for lunch. The weather had stepped back a pace from the glorious sunny days we enjoyed for the last couple of weeks. The temperature, after a cold night, didn't really get above 13C all day and we had a cool, brisk west-north-westerly wind. Edmund organised us into two groups and we started with a climb over Chapel Hill which brought us into Barrington. The morning was always going to be a bit of a toil, being mainly into the wind, as we passed through Orwell on our way to Wimpole Hall.


We quickly cycled through Arrington and Croydon, down the hill onto the A603 into the road between Wendy and Steeple Morden. Once at Steeple Morden it was just two more miles to Ashwell for the first stop of the day.

It was as well that we arrived in two groups because we caused the women in Day's to work really hard to complete the orders for coffee and cakes; and they did it, and all with a cheerful smile. As usual we sat on the little green in the heart of the village and there must have been in the region of thirty-five members milling round.

Coffee at Ashwell

On leaving Ashwell we remained in three groups. Edmund's led his group by to Baldock via Bygrave, whereas we in the following group made a last minute decision to reach Baldock via Newnham on the basis that this was one less hill to climb. The downside, though, meant a mile or so on the A507 and a few busy roads in Baldock. We soon reached the turning for Wallington and back on to quiet roads again; also very hilly! In Wallington we paused to look a house once occupied by George Orwell before pressing on to Redhill. This had the effect of bringing us onto the road we most often use on our way to Ardley, meaning we next cycled through Rushden and then Cromer.

Rushden to Cromer

The Mill at Cromer, which is still under renovation, is only a short distance to Ardley where we arrived after thirty miles at 1pm. As usual Adrian checked in having followed his own route and Greg is convinced that Adrian has a twin brother as he frequently disappears and pops up again later.

Cromer Windmill

In the past we have sat on the little green outside the farm entrance to eat our sandwiches, but today we found a nice green area about a couple of hundred yards away and this proved very satisfactory, even more so on a nice summer's day.

Lunch at Ardley

The three groups left separately and we, being a group of nine, followed Ed's recommended route. Aided by a following wind and with Rupert out in front setting a furious pace we soon covered the four miles to Great Munden. On our way home on several occasions we were lucky enough to see buzzards circling above us; and as we passed some of the fields we could hear the skylarks. Facing northwards we went through Nasty, Westmill, Buntingford and Wyddial before arriving at the B1368. We paused briefly here where Greg fell off the second time today. No harm done but he should be aware that we don't keep records for the number of times people fall off their bikes. More lovely lanes followed on the road through Anstey to Nuthampstead where we stopped to look at the memorial for the U.S. Airforce Bomber Group who used to be stationed at Nuthampstead.

Anstey to Nuthampstead

American Memorial at Nuthampstead

The last leg of our day out took us through Shaftenhoe End, the climb up to Great Chishill before the two mile descent to Flint Cross. This wasn't as pedal free us usual as the wind today was against us. This left us with Fowlmere, Thriplow, Newton and Great Shelford to finish the ride after 64 miles at 4.20 pm. Thanks to our two leaders, particularly Edmund who volunteered as a late replacement. Edward Elmer

Download GPS track (GPX).

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