Thursday, 17 August 2017

17 Aug: Thursday ride to St Neots and Thurleigh

Edward writes: Our ride today was always going to be at the top of the distance we do on Thursdays with a trip out to St Neots and Thurleigh in north Bedfordshire. We had quite a bit of overnight rain and the forecast reckoned it would stop by 9am and then an improvement as the day went on. As it turned out the forecast was almost spot on. In the city, with Dr J at the helm, there were seven riders and out in the country we had eleven under the guidance of Sheila, today's leader. With almost twenty miles to coffee we took a more or less direct route through Harlton, over the A603, through the Eversdens to Bourn.


Haslingfield to Harlton


One feature of the day was the wind which was in the south-west and in the morning against us, but this would augur well for the journey home when it would become stronger. Bourn was followed by Caxton, Great Gransden and the climb up to Waresley which is not unfamiliar territory to those who ride out on a Tuesday.


By now the clouds had started to disperse and with it the temperature went up causing layers of clothing to be removed. A few minutes after 11am we arrived in St Neots and the Ambiance Cafe for our coffee break. The cafe has recently opened-up the end of the building and created a new serving hatch which helped to speed things up. Also new was the arrival of a miniature railway and a group of adults seemed to be getting the most enjoyment.

The city riders left about ten minutes before Sheila's group, apparently to take a more undulating route than ours. When we did start we went out of St Neots to Eaton Socon by a series of cycleways which was more preferable to taking the main road. With the urban St Neots behind we entered an extremely pleasant part of the ride passing through an agricultural countryside which showed there was still much for the farmers to do; last night's rain being just another setback. We passed through Upper Staploe, Bushmead and Little Staughton and then Keysoe Row.


Great Staughton Church

Sometimes the wind made it heavy going but this didn't take anything away from such a well-crafted route which we were all enjoying. We went round the perimeter of Staughton airfield and this brought us to Thurleigh and a few more minutes to Scald End Farm for our lunch break.

Preparing to leave Thurleigh

The city group, as expected, had already arrived and by the time those with sandwiches had gone inside they were still waiting to receive their meal. In fact it was quite sometime before their meals did arrive. This is a nice place with a good menu and an extremely pleasant owner who actually offered some refunds to compensate for the delay. Sadly, though, they seemed a bit overwhelmed by our sudden influx which was a shame as to reach here had taken us through such lovely countryside.

Leaving Thurleigh

Finally, a group of seventeen started our return leg at 2.20pm (John had left earlier with a smaller group going via Kimbolton), and after a brief spell into the wind, and as we started to turn towards the east, the wind began to be in our favour. This leg took us through Ravensden and onto the very edge of Bedford. On David W's authority I can record that we saw a hobby flying low over the fields! After a bit of manoeuvring under the A421 and the A1 we reached the cycleway which, of course, is the former railway alignment between Bedford and Sandy. Once out of Sandy we were now into more familiar roads through Everton and Gamlingay.



With the following wind we moved along rapidly and covered the five mile stretch through the Hatleys in double-quick time. Croydon and Arrington came and went and we went into the grounds of Wimpole Hall, Orwell and Barrington which left for those going back to Haslingfield a climb over Chapel Hill with the riding ending at 4.45pm and a most enjoyable 66 miles. Thanks to Dr John and a special thanks to Sheila for such a good route and coping very well with the burden of leadership.
Edward Elmer

Download GPS track (GPX).

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