17 October. Pay attention! 28 miles.

What do Francis Crick, Mary Archer, the Guided Busway and Rupert Brooke have in common? Answer: They were all part of Simon’s fascinating educational tour of South Cambridgeshire on this fine autumn day which encompassed science, engineering, poetry and the Archers – an everyday story of Granchester folk.

Starting from Martin’s house in Ickleton after coffee and biscuits and a quick wizz around his field maze on their bikes, thirteen Windmillers comprising Simon, Sandra, Keith (celebrating his birthday), Brian, Roger, Ric, Lawrence, Graham, Nigel, Geoff, Charles, Neil and Martin set off in the direction of Duxford stopping briefly at the Ickleton Lion for any last minute arrivals.

All lined up for an amazeing ride, birthday boy Keith on the right.

Navigating the maze

…and the winner of a bottle of Spitfire for being first over the finish line was Geoff


…hotly pursued by Sandra, Keith, Brian, Lawrence, Simon and Graham

This is what Simon had planned for our enjoyment:

Bike ride 17 Oct 19

After crossing the A505 at Duxford, when Simon somehow achieved a Jesus-like parting of the traffic allowing all to cross simultaneously, we waited for Graham to catch up before taking the bike path from Whittlesford to Sawston and continuing along the newly upgraded bike path to Stapleford and Shelford, passing Tom’s house as we did so. Then the science bit started, with a ride along the now famous DNA bike path towards Addenbrooke’s Hospital:

DNA bike path
The DNA bike path from Great Shelford to Addenbrooke’s is decorated with 10,257 colourful stripes which represent the four nucleotides of the BRCA2 gene.

At the end of the bike path we stopped to admire the complex of buildings and roads on the Addenbrooke’s site and to hear Simon talk about Francis Crick and Jim Watson who discovered DNA in 1953, with the considerable assistance of one of their researchers, Rosalind Franklin, who was not credited to the same extent and who, some might argue, should also have been in line for a Nobel prize.

Gathering outside the Anne McLaren building on Francis Crick Avenue to hear about the discovery of DNA – just a question of smashing a cell to bits and extracting the DNA, according to Prof. Simon. Just opposite is Dame Mary Archer Way. In Jeffrey Archer’s libel case in 1987 the judge famously described Mary Archer as being a vision of elegance, fragrance and radiance.

Next stop was the busway and bike path alongside to Trumpington, stopping to hear from Simon about its development and issues since construction, including a bus careering across the bike path and ploughing into a bank a couple of years ago, just a week before the Windmill Club passed the same spot………. Opinions are divided as to whether this represents progress in transportation.


The Cambridge busway at Trumpington

Granchester was the next stop, reached by a delightful path behind the Park and Ride car park, across a huge new country park and diving into thick woods leading to Byron’s Pool before passing the Archers’ Old Vicarage and entering the famous Orchard Tea Garden. Famous not only for Rupert Brooke and his poetry, quoted by Simon during coffee (the first verse of The Soldier is on the plan above) but also frequented by dozens of other famous people including Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, Bertrand Russell, Francis Crick, D H Lawrence, A A Milne, H G Wells, Ted Hughes, Henry James, King George VI, Prince Edward and now a group of illustrious Windmillers too!

Soaking up the sun and Rupert Brooke’s poetry at the Orchard Tea Garden in Granchester

Ken joined us during coffee and so we were fourteen as we started on the homeward leg via some off road tracks leading over the M11 towards Barton and then on to Haslingfield, Harston and Newton before taking another off road stretch to Whittlesford along what turned out to be a smooth track whilst some decided to take the direct route back to the Ickleton Lion.

True to the Windmill tradition, having owned up to having a birthday Keith very kindly bought a round of drinks and received a hearty rendering of Happy Birthday to You in return. Over lunch we thought of Maurice and his knee operation taking place that day and wished him well. Charles impressed us with his method of paying his bill – no cash, no credit card, just his smart watch and phone. Windmillers are always ahead of the game.

Thanks were given to Simon for planning and executing such a great ride and we are all looking forward to the others that are taking place during the absence of Maurice and Andrew – no pressure on the organisers!

Well done to the several members who clocked up considerably more than 28 miles on this ride due to riding to and from their homes, namely Sandra, Ric, Brian, Neil and Geoff.


P.S.  Maurice’s operation went very well and he is now back home on crutches and climbing stairs.

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