Sunday, 25 June 2017

25 Jun: Sunday ride to Holme, Whitwell and Braughing

Nigel writes: Last week's early summer heatwave has now passed, and today we enjoyed more typical June conditions: warm and breezy with periodic sunny intervals. We wouldn't have wanted a repeat of last Sunday's 30C temperatures anyway, since today would be one of our longest club rides of the year: a Sunday longer ride of over 90 miles.

Our numbers today was rather lower than usual, with leader Alex leading a small group that consisted of Mike CC, Rupert, Joseph and me. Our first stage was west to coffee at Jordan's Mill near Biggleswade. Although this was only slightly further than usual there was a persistent westerly wind which made this part of the ride slightly harder work than usual.



Between Bourn and Caxton

We followed the "usual route west" along the B1046 to Bourn and then through Caxton and Great Gransden to Waresley. From here we turned south-west to Potton and Biggleswade.

I have spent much effort in the past trying to find a good cycle route through Biggleswade, but without success, and Alex had no doubt done the same with a similar result. However on this occasion the streets weren't particularly busy and we navigated through without difficulty. However it's all rather dull, so I was pleased that after passing through the centre Alex turned right towards the river and onto an off-road path across the meadows and under the A1 to Jordan's Mill.

Meadows by the River Ivel, Biggleswade

Under the A1, Biggleswade

Despite the headwind we made good progress and we arrived at Jordan's Mill at 11am exactly, about ten minutes earlier than Alex had planned. We ordered food and drink and sat ourside on the pleasant terrace by the River Ivel. Here we were joined by Ian B who had led last week's ride.

Coffee at Jordan's Mill

There were quite a few other cyclists in the cafe, including a large group from Cambridge Cycling Club, another from the Hitchin Nomads and a small group from Hertfordshire CTC, several of whom joined us for the next stage of the ride. This took us south through rather more undulating countryside than earlier to Whitwell, where we stopped for lunch at Emily's Cafe.

Apsley End

Lilley Bottom, approaching Whitwell, Approaching Whitwell

Lunch at Emily's Cafe, Whitwell

The next stage after lunch took us east to tea in Braughing, and with the wind directly behind us this was a rather more relaxing than in the morning. Our route was essentially the reverse of the Chiltern Pathfinder, and took us east through the pleasant undulating farmland that forms a kind of green belt between Stevenage to our north and Welwyn to our south.



There was just one point where we deviated from the Chiltern Pathfinder route. This was east of Dane End where, instead of heading directly to the south end of Puckeridge we continued north to Great Munden before turning east to cross the A10 at a pedestrian crossing point which brought us to the northern end of the town. There was little traffic on the main road so this was straightforward enough.

Crossing the A10, Puckeridge


We arrived at Braughing Village Hall just after 3.30pm, about half an hour early. A short while later we were joined by Ray and the afternoon ride, which today consisted of just him and Simon.

Tea at Braughing

After about an hour Alex gave the signal that it was time to return home.


Today's two leaders, Alex and Ray, had previously agreed that both groups would ride back to Cambridge together, following a very pleasant route that took us north-east through Furneaux Pelham and Berden before turning north to Clavering and over what Alex calls "the three peaks" - Quicksie Hill, "Telegraph" Hill and Coploe Hill.

Heading home from Braughing

The wind was still mostly behind us for most of this final section; Rupert certainly had a spring in his step and was repeatedly off the front. Rather to my surprise my own legs were beginning to ache and I had to work hard to keep up, which is unusual on a normal club ride and which I attributed to a few strenuous hikes in the Lake District earlier in the week.

The promised rain never arrived, and I arrived home in Cambridge at 6.30pm, having cycled 150km (93 miles). Nigel Deakin

Download GPS track (GPX).

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