How does Maurice do it? Yet again he comes up with a ride we haven’t done before, this time a glorious ride into deepest Suffolk using carefully researched farm tracks and lanes which produced quite a testing 35 miles, as can be seen from the elevation / gradient plot below, some hills approaching 10%.
Starting from The Fox & Hounds in Steeple Bumpstead, where Maurice had also arranged for coffee to be laid on at 9.00am, and riding in two groups, Maurice led the first group comprising Ken, Rod, Roger, Simon and Alan whilst Andrew, Howard, Brian, Deborah, Lawrence, Mike and Martin followed along about 10 minutes later. Geoff was due to set off too but unfortunately had left his battery behind at home and had to return to collect it, but caught up with the gang later on in Clare. (Don’t worry, Geoff, it happens to us all, having left my golf battery behind recently, with similar expletives expressed. Ed.)
After traversing the farm track successfully shortly after leaving Steeple Bumpstead and before reaching the A1307, a delightful lane led us through to the hamlet of Wixoe before emerging at Baythorne End, where group B stopped to admire a fine Georgian house with walls made from knapped flints, which must surely represent one of the finest houses of its type around, and definitely a labour of love.
The weather was perfect, the hedges were ablaze with blossom, leaves were emerging, cowslips were out, daffodils were having a last gasp whilst narcissi and tulips were taking over, the birds were singing, the pubs were open and Windmillers were again riding together in a group. What could be better? Up and down the hills we went passing more lovely Suffolk houses, cottages and churches including this fine looking example in the small hamlet of Fenstead End near Glemsford:
After approx. 25 miles it was definitely time for a coffee stop and the café at the old railway station in Clare was our destination, which we had visited on previous occasions. Some queued patiently for coffee whilst others opted for their own refreshments but it was a pleasant place to relax and for both groups to meet up prior to the final leg back.
Back at The Fox & Hounds a warm welcome was received from the landlady and her staff who looked after us well as we dined under cover in the courtyard garden. It was very good to be ending a ride in the traditional Windmill Club way.
Thanks again to Maurice for planning a superb route and to Andrew our organiser who, nevertheless, had to confess his cardinal sins to the Rev’d Holey Moley before setting off on the ride.