Thursday, 27 April 2017

27 Apr: Thursday ride to Newport and Great Bardfield

John writes: With regular riders away in the Brecon Beacons, North Norfolk and Suffolk, and after an unseasonable hard frost, I arrived at Brookside unsure how many riders there would be to lead. I was pleased to find that Anne, Peter W, John J, Glynn, Simon, Jeff, Ian and Russell had all braved the cold.

We set off down the DNA path and on towards Whittlesford. After an impressive validation of several of Newton’s Laws of Motion by Glynn, we met up with Jacob, who had missed the Village starters only by a few minutes. We rode on through Duxford and up Coploe Hill, where we stopped to catch our breath and appreciate the view.

A pause for breath at the top of Coploe Hill

At the turn for Littlebury Green we parted company with Jacob, who proceeded direct towards Newport. We took the hillier route past the radio mast and down to Wendens Ambo, where we wound through the lanes and over the level crossing to arrive outside Dorringtons to find Edmund and his Village People already installed. There had only been 4 riders at the village start, and Edmund told us that they had made good time over Chapel Hill and across to Fowlmere, and on to Newport via Duddenhoe End and Arkesden. The service at Dorringtons was, as always, quick and efficient.

Outside Dorringtons in Newport

Edmund and I agreed to combine our rides, and 9 riders continued south along the B road before turning off onto the quieter North Hall Road which runs parallel to the M11 and the railway line. After passing the cycling club huts, and deftly avoiding the potholes under the railway bridge, we climbed towards Henham where we spotted what must have been another CTC group going the other way. We dropped down to the Broxted road, and then took a short detour via Tilty.

The eponymous sign for Tilty

Here Ian recalled that there used to be a regular Sunday afternoon tea stop at the church. From there we took the road to Great Easton, where we paused to admire the Rolls Royce Merlin engine in the window of the car showroom before turning off towards Lindsell. Several of the roads we took had been recently re-surfaced, but it was surprising to see that although there was a new surface over most of the road, they had not taken the opportunity to fill in the potholes at the side of the road.

Checking out the Rolls-Royce garage in Great Easton

After Lindsell, we joined the B road to Great Bardfield, and proceeded to Bran End. Here Edmund took charge of the on-road group, while 4 of us turned off onto a Byway with a rough but ride-able surface that emerges just a short distance from our lunch stop for the day – The Blue Egg.

The weather had been kind to us in the morning, but after lunch it started to rain, and the north-westerly wind strengthened, so we had a rather tiring slog through Finchingfield and past Spains Hall to Helions Bumpstead, the Camps and Bartlow and on to Linton and Hildersham. Here Edmund took one group via Pampisford, while Glynn, Russell, Anne and I continued through Abington and across the footbridge over the A11. This is awkward at the best of times, and the wind and drizzle made it seem even more awkward than usual. From there we took the new cycleway through Babraham Research Park and joined the cycleway over the Gogs. Although you are safely off the main road, the constant stream of traffic leaving Cambridge makes this feel quite pressured, especially after the quiet lanes we had used in the morning.

I finished the ride having covered 70 miles. In the evening, I went to an excellent Transport Discussion Evening about cycling infrastructure around Stapleford, Shelford and Sawston. One of the pictures shown by Nigel Brigham (the former Sustrans manager for the Eastern Region, who has produced a Greenways report about local cycling routes) was of the same foot bridge over the A11 that we had struggled over earlier, and it was interesting to hear it confirmed that this crossing is recognised as a bit of a bottleneck that needs improvement, and find out about other potential ways to cross the A11, including a possible new path under the A11 next to the River Granta. John Seton, with contributions from Edmund Rose

Download GPS track (GPX).

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