The Tally Ho! in Barkway was the beginning and end of this ride for 9 Windmillers who set out around familiar lanes, at the later start time of 2.30pm which reflected the steadily longer days we now enjoy.
Maurice led the way followed by Alan, Charles, Graham (who all met up initially in Great Chishill, Nigel, Rod, Sandra, Jeremy and Martin. This is where we went:
Charles was in his element snapping away at every opportunity, and even has a rear facing camera to ensure there is no misbehaving going on behind him:
This was an uneventful, pleasant ride on quiet roads with only a Red Kite for company at one stage as it cruised alongside us urging us to speed up a bit. Could it have been the same bird that nicked a golf ball from the fairway of the 10th hole on Royston golf course recently, belonging to one of Rod’s friends, we wondered?
Charles and Alan peeled off at Barkway Golf Club leaving those stalwarts in the photo above to perch on stools in the Tally Ho! and swap stories in front of the roaring fire – a very good end to a very good ride.
Thanks to Maurice for planning the ride, absent Andrew for organising us and of course our photographer Charles.
What a difference a week can make to our English weather. No more balmy rides like last week; instead a 19° drop in temperature for Graham as he set out from Ickleton in -4°C at the unearthly hour of 7.30am in order to reach the start in Moulton by 9.30am. And the result? A frozen water bottle, as above, and probably other frozen bits as well. At least his face was well protected.
Meeting at The Packhorse Inn provided a chance of seeing that splendid sight of racehorses being exercised on Newmarket Heath in the crisp, frosty, sunny weather with steam pouring from the nostrils of both the horses and riders.
The Packhorse Inn staff provided good coffee whilst orders were being placed for lunch but it was still -1°C when Group A led by Maurice set off, followed by Andrew’s Group B and then Martin bringing up the rear with Group C – 15 Windmillers in all, the others being birthday-boy Victor, Alan, Brian, Rod, Sandra, Hazel, Tom, Ken, Roger, Howard and Deborah. Charles was to join us later for lunch along with Suzanne who cycled up from Abington with her son Peter.
This is where we went, the first hill out of Moulton being a warm-up bastardo:
There was some hesitancy about the conditions but, as it turned out, the roads were mainly open and dry with only a few icy patches which were easy to spot. The main problem was keeping warm but two layers around the extremities seemed to do the trick, not to mention the hills.
Maurice’s route took us through some lovely Suffolk lanes and rolling countryside with fine views. There were only a couple of his famous dead ends but at one point Andrew’s group was completely foxed as to whether to head up a no through road or continue on bike route no. 51. A phone call to Maurice and the appearence of Group C soon got them heading in the right direction. There’s a new book just published called Wayfinding: The Art and Science of How We Find and Lose Our Way, which might make a good prize for the 2022 Not the Navigator award at the Christmas lunch.
More coffee was dispensed at The Plough in Rede, whose warm welcome filtered through to still-cold extremities for some but by the time we left the temperature had crept above freezing level.
The return leg took us through more villages including Dalham where a fascinating looking building was spotted next to the road.
Groups B&C intermingled a bit on the way back, culminating with a fast descent down to the bridge at Moulton, said by a local dog walker to only take the weight of four people, for the traditional photo call:
The Packhorse Inn did us proud at lunch, giving us exclusive use of a banquet-style dining room with a long table set out with a seating plan containing the names of those who were dining, or so it seemed. Who was Dedra, for example, and who was Morris? They weren’t members, surely? And Andy can’t surely be Andrew? But, yes, it was only a few misspelt names by the staff, and given his love of cars wouldn’t Maurice prefer to be called Morris from now on?
The room also provided us with the space to sing a hearty Happy Birthday to Victor, who very kindly bought the drinks. Thanks Victor! We look forward to more birthdays being celebrated during the year, with yours truly’s being next – so roll up, roll up for the 13th.
The seating plan:
It was surprising to see how popular beetroot and chips was, or beetroot and truffle chips in the case of Sandra who clearly has expensive tastes, but, for some, beetroot was just another name, for example, for spare rib of beef. But the kitchen seemed to get the message ok and the food was very tasty, albeit not terribly filling after a long ride (and yet another long ride home for Graham, accompanied by Suzanne as far as Abington).
Victor receiving a cheque from Morris, sorry Maurice, for £500 for Marie Curie
And here is the assembled gathering:
Thanks to Maurice for this memorably cold ride, to Andrew for organising us and to photographers, Hazel and Graham.
Windmillers must love their hills. What else could be the reason for a record turnout on a winter Monday, given that a warning of hills had been announced beforehand? Or was it just an opportunity to slice a few inches off Christmas / New Year expanded waistlines? Probably not – Windmillers love expanding their waistlines.
So 12 masochistic Windmillers gathered at The Red Lion in Hinxton at 12.00 noon to climb 350 metres around local lanes. The first ride of the New Year included Maurice, Deborah, (New Year’s resolution – DDD – Don’t Dither Deborah), Ric, Rod, Ken, Sandra, Hazel, Charles, Alan, Geoff, Graham and Martin. The intention was to end at The Red Lion for refreshments but it had just closed for a fortnight and so, before setting off, orders for lunch were phoned through to The Plough in Duxford instead.
This is where we went:
The first hill was a steep but short bastardo from Ickleton Grange on the poorly surfaced Cambridgeshire lane towards Strethall followed by a fast descent on smooth Essex tarmac and then a steady climb towards the M11 bridge above Littlebury and a fast descent into the village, where it is always satisfying to be exceeding 30mph as the speed sign is passed.
Then it was back up towards Littlebury Green and down past the badgers to the B1039 where it was noted that two Windmillers, who shall remain nameless, took the easier route up to Duddenhoe End instead of the intended bastardo. There was only one climb left up to Chrishall, except for Ken who chose to peel off back to Ickleton via Elmdon, thus having to endure yet another steep hill before the descent to Ickleton. He must already be up for the Masochist of the Year award, unless yours truly is a candidate having planned the route.
Alan and Charles also peeled off, having set out from their homes to begin with, and the remainder made their way back in relaxed style to The Plough in Duxford, where Ric set off back to Harston having clocked up the longest distance for the day. Others enjoyed an excellent lunch at The Plough where we received a warm welcome.
Global warming? Bring it on is what one Windmiller who shall remain nameless was heard to say whilst pondering whether to go for bare knees or not on this exceptionally warm day for late December, with 15.5 C being recorded at one stage. All due, apparently, to a hot stream of air coming up from the Canaries and so perhaps Prof Simon, currently sunning himself there, had something to do with it, maybe with antique bellows knowing him.
Meeting at our Pub of the Year, The Chestnut Tree in West Wratting, was an opportunity for Maurice to present cheques to Deborah and Charles in respect of the charities they work for – £500 to the Samaritans and £250 for Pets as Therapy – as part of the overall distribution of £7,000 for 2021, a record sum in the history of The Windmill Club. Deborah and Charles are shown receiving their cheques in the above photo. This is an amazing feat during a time of on / off lockdowns due to Covid but wouldn’t it be good if we could match or better it in 2022? Thanks are due to all members for their great generosity in 2021.
Setting off after coffee and having ordered their lunches, Maurice led Group A with Andrew, Rod, Charles, Suzanne in tow whilst Martin was accompanied in Group B by Deborah, Jenni, Howard and Brian – 10 in total wanting to reduce their post-Christmas waistlines – although there was a fair amount of mixing and matching at times on the return leg.
The route took us through familiar lanes down to Finchingfield, passing Jamie Oliver’s smart new residence on the way, and back via Radwinter and Bartlow:
Although pleasantly balmy there was a strong head wind on the outward leg but a blissful tail wind to shunt us up the long climb from Bartlow to West Wratting (the second highest village in Cambridgeshire at the giddy height of 120m).
Not only were we starting from our pub of the year but we also stopped at our coffee stop of the year – Winners Tearoom in Finchingfield where, once again, we were given a warm welcome and enjoyed excellent coffee and cakes. This certificate was awarded to them in recognition of the service they provided to hungry and thirsty Windmillers in 2021:
Brian peeled off in Bartlow to head back for a lunch appointment and Andrew also couldn’t make lunch, leaving 8 Windmillers to enjoy another excellent meal at The Chestnut Tree, washed down with great beers and softdrinks.
And here endeth the year. That was the year that was, it’s over let it go and let’s look forward to a Covid-free New Year.
Huge thanks, once again, to Maurice and Andrew for organising our rides and the all important hospitality venues that go with them. We are lucky to have them. Keep it up, chaps, you’re doing a good job!
It was the last ride before Christmas and we half expected to see a fat, white-bearded, jolly old man in a red suit, who normally lives at the North Pole, screeching round a bend towards us on a sleigh, full of presents and pulled by galloping reindeer, for delivery to children in Uttlesford and South Cambridgeshire. It wasn’t to be but we did have our very own Father Christmas look-a-like with us, Graham.
Maurice had a special purpose in mind for this ride – to call in at Simon and Ollie’s house in Elmdon and to present a cheque for £1,000 to Simon for sending on to Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust in recognition of the treatment that both he and Lawrence had received recently.
Starting once again at noon from The Red Lion in Hinxton, Maurice was accompanied by Andrew, Ken, Ann, Rod, Graham, Alan and Martin on an anti-clockwise circuit taking in Duxford, Chrishall Grange, Elmdon, Duddenhoe End, Newland End, Catmere End, (no end to the Ends on this ride) and Ickleton.
12.30 was Maurice’s expected arrival time in Elmdon and sure enough it was, with Simon and Ollie waiting to greet us outside their lovely house, laden with beers. It was great to see Simon looking so well after his operation. Maurice then presented the cheque:
After chatting for a while, and declining the beers as it was a bit chilly (deciding instead to consume them on a warm spring / summer evening ) the 8 Windmillers wished Simon and Ollie a Happy Christmas and continued on their circuit around relatively quiet lanes, and not too muddy for a change. Hill Bastardo was taken in its stride, with a tail wind which helped, and we stopped in Catmere End to bid farewell to Alan who had started from his home in Great Chishill.
Back at The Red Lion in Hinxton we enjoyed good sandwiches and beers before a roaring fire, the local riders feeling quite sleepy by the time they eventually left.
This is where we went, right to the Ends:
Thanks, as always, to Maurice and Andrew for planning and organising the ride.
No one in their right mind would attempt to cycle down the Southern end of Violet’s Lane between Brent Pelham and Furneux Pelham, even when it is open, although there was a photo of Graham being ankle deep in water in the same vicinity recently, albeit on his mountain bike. Claimed to be the longest ford in the UK (1km) it is thick with mud even when dry, which is not very often as it is actually the course of the River Ash.
Starting from The Black Horse in Brent Pelham for a change, seven Windmillers comprising Maurice, Andrew, Sandra, Nick, Graham, Simon and Martin set off at noon in a clockwise direction to experience copious amounts of winter mud and filthy bikes at the end of the ride. But it was a fairly mild, dry day and so we should be thankful for small mercies, says the Rev.
This is where we went:
The mud on the narrow lane between Rickling Green and Manuden was so thick in places that a tractor with a Heath Robinson sweeper attached to its front bucket was making hard work of scooping it up as it reversed down the lane. Eventually it gave up and let us pass.
By the time we got to Manuden, the locals were warning us that we might not get through on the section of road between Maggots End and Furneux Pelham but, as it turned out, there were only a few puddles and so no need to raise legs in the air to traverse floods.
Heading down the steep, bumpy concrete track from Furneux Pelham to Violet’s Lane, the mud at the bottom by the closed road was also thick but passable with care and so we escaped unscathed except for the need to give our bikes a good hosing down.
Back at The Black Horse, those who called in for a refreshing pint reported a quiet atmosphere and nothing to eat and so not quite ticking the Windmillers’ boxes it seems. Having cycled from Ickleton to join the ride, and cycled back again, Graham hopefully found some sustenance elsewhere.
Thanks go as always to our stalwarts Maurice and Andrew for planning and organising the ride.
It came as quite a surprise a week ago to be notified that 500 Windmill Club blogs had been published since the inception in May 2015. Doesn’t time just pedal by? This is therefore the 501st and what better way to celebrate than for 12 Windmillers to cycle around some of our quiet lanes, or so we thought, on a circuit from The Fox & Duck in Therfield, with coffee to look forward to at The Golden Fleece in Braughing – two of our favourite pubs in one day. Is this a record?
Group A – Maurice, Victor, Charles, Brian and Howard set off promptly at 9.30am followed a few minutes later by Group B – Andrew, Rod, Simon, Graham, Sandra, Martin and, finally, Geoff who arrived just as we were setting off but who soon caught us up – did he switch to turbo mode on his e-bike we wondered?
This is where we went:
Quiet lanes? Usually, yes, but Group B witnessed three crazy drivers after only a short distance – one in Reed who screeched past with cars coming in the opposite direction, only to stop shortly afterwards, and then two in Barkway, one of whom scraped past Andrew before pulling into a petrol station. Maurice later reported having a similar experience in Group A. What’s happening? The start of the Christmas rush perhaps? All the more reason to cycle carefully, wear hi-viz, use lights on these dark days and keep a beady eye open for daft drivers.
Pulling in at The Golden Fleece for coffee provided an opportunity to warm up on what had been quite a chilly ride so far. The coffee and lemon drizzle cake were excellent but we were sorry to hear from Peter of several cancellations due to the latest Covid scare. What a tough time it is now for those in the hospitality business, with no Government support any more. Let’s hope they all survive. But Peter can rely on the support of The Windmill Club on 15 December, thanks to all taking a lateral flow test before attending.
Emerging from The Golden Fleece after a longer than usual coffee break saw the sun emerging too from its slumber and so the return leg was delightful. Both Groups stopped at different places to admire local sights – Group A at Cromer windmill, where the centre of attraction was not the windmill but a fine lady on a fine horse called Charlie.
Group B, meanwhile, stopped to admire St Nicholas’ Church in Great Munden which was looking splendid in the winter sunshine with its Norman North wall and a 13th century South facing aisle:
Charles reported a near collision with two birds of prey, which he regretted not being able to video, but that would have been preferable to meeting another impatient motorist. As it was, the return leg to Therfield was peaceful and quiet with time to soak up some nice views:
Back at The Fox & Duck, having negotiated the familiar flooded dip just before Therfield, we were afforded a warm welcome and tucked into the usual excellent fare.
Graham set off back to Ickleton after lunch, having started at 7.30am, mentioning in passing that he had clocked up an amazing 13,000km so far this year. Well done, Graham! You’re up for at least one award at the Christmas lunch.
Thanks as always go to Maurice for planning the route and to Andrew for his organisation.
Christmas came early for Windmillers this year following Pat’s offer to cook us a turkey with all the trimmings at The Pig and Abbott in Abington Pigotts, and supply crackers too. What a tasty turkey it was too, for those who took advantage of her offer, and even those who didn’t still got the chance to pull a cracker, put on a hat and tell corny jokes. ‘What do you call a detective crossed with a skeleton? Sherlock Bones of course!’ As if we didn’t all know that one………………
Gathering at 9.00am for a warm up coffee and to place lunch orders, 11 Windmillers set off on another chilly but sunny day on a pleasant circuit of South West Cambridgeshire, taking in Bassingbourn, Barrington, Haslingfield, Harlton, The Eversdens, Kingston, Bourn, Longstowe, Hatley St. George, Shingay and back to Abington Pigotts.
Group A comprising Maurice, Howard, Roger, Charles and Ken set off at high speed whilst Group B comprising Martin, Deborah, Simon, Sandra, Graham and Rod set off a few minutes later, for greater safety and to avoid potential road rage but that didn’t stop a lady driver shaking her head angrily at Group B on the narrow road leading to Abington Pigotts, having presumably thought that Group A was enough cyclists on the road for one day.
Not long afterwards, entering Bassingbourn, Group B encountered e-bikers Charles and Ken poring over digital displays trying to work out why Ken’s bike seemed not to be working properly. But a few more stabs of his display with a fat finger cured the problem and so Group B then comprised eight temporarily until they rejoined Group A who were waiting patiently for them near Shepreth.
Group A picked up Brian and Victor in Haslingfield, who had ridden over from Shelford, and who gave good reports of the new Mohak Café (ex-Moringa Tree). Group B decided to have a breather after the climb from Barrington and had a lengthy discussion at the top of Chapel Hill about the pros and cons of the proposed East West rail link between Cambridge, Bedford and Oxford, and in particular whether it should cut Chapel Hill in half. There was nothing for it but to take a vote:
Trundling on, it wasn’t long before we descended on the swanky new Cambridge Country Club, the new name for Bourn Golf Club, where we were given a warm welcome and sat in the clubhouse drinking good coffee but, sadly, no cakes and Deborah’s request for toast would have taken 20 minutes. How would Windmillers ever have the energy for the return leg we wondered? Luckily it was mainly downwind and so not as difficult as, say, returning to West Wratting with a Force 5 on the nose.
The return leg through empty Cambridgeshire countryside was easy and warmer than the way out. It was good to see Hatley St. George again with its parkland and fine church, known as the Chapel of St James the Greater. Next door is East Hatley, the population of both villages being just 200.
Back at The Pig and Abbott, where it was great to be joined by John Bagrie, Christmas seemed to be in full swing with other diners also tucking into turkey whilst sporting their best Christmas jumpers or smart attire. The Windmiller contingent of 11 diners, Deborah and Roger being unable to make lunch, lowered the tone a bit but will surely look the part when the Christmas lunch proper takes place on 15 December, even if crimson trousers are in evidence.
And this is where we went:
Thanks to Maurice for planning the route, absent Andrew for his organisation, Pat and her staff for their wonderful food, Mike for his good beer, and photographers Brian, Charles and Simon.
Starting at the earlier hour of noon on this ride produced several benefits, not least of which was being able to ride in daylight. Other benefits were that most of the ice had melted and not re-frozen on this cold day, there was good light for Sandra’s constant spotting of wildlife, plus the bonus of a good lunch at 2.00pm in front of a roaring fire at The Red Lion in Hinxton.
Despite the cold, seven Windmillers comprising Graham, Rod, Sandra, Simon, Charles, Alan and Martin decided to brave the icy patches and set off on an anticlockwise route in the hope of picking up Andrew, who was attending a Zoom funeral. But it was a sunny day and so it proved to be not so bad after all, certainly not as icy as the photo above showing Dutch children heading off to school, and probably warmer than the previous Thursday once the first hill up to Chrishall had been climbed. There was more than the usual traffic on the road to Duxford Grange due to a snarl up on the A505, requiring several stops to allow vehicles to pass.
Thanks to having eagle-eyed Sandra with us, there were constant sightings of buzzards and red kites and no less than four sightings of deer, one of which was a stag with his three wives in tow. It seems that female deer are some way off gaining the full legal, economic, vocational, educational, and social rights enjoyed by stags.
Graham suggested a wise modification of the route to avoid cycling up to Duddenhoe End under the trees, where the surface could be distinctly icy, and so we took a slightly longer, more open route via Pond Street. Heading down to Arkesden was sheer bliss, soaking up the warm sun as we cruised along thinking of Deborah the flower girl on the way. Deborah was due to join us but, sadly, her horse had been hurt following Storm Arwen and she was expecting a visit from the vet. Even more sad was the subsequent news that the horse had to be put down and so our sympathies go to Deborah on her loss.
The long hill down to Clanver End looked dodgy in places and so care was taken not to go too fast and all descended safely. Then it was time to call up Andrew to see if he could join us but the eulogies were running late and so we climbed Hill Bastardo up to Littlebury Green without him.
Alan and Charles both peeled off at Catmere End to head through the woods back to Chrishall and Great Chishill respectively, from whence they came, leaving the remaining five to take in the views towards Strethall Church and Ickleton before descending past Martin’s allotment and wending their way through to Hinxton for a well earned pint and some excellent sandwiches. Here they are warming their extremities in front of the fire:
Captain Brian devised a brilliant route around Cambridge for this ride, assisted by Lieutenant Jeremy, which provided an update on some of the major developments taking place around this hotbed of science and technological research, with a cultural tour of Eddington thrown in for free.
Starting from The Three Horseshoes in Stapleford, Brian’s group A comprised Simon, Nigel, Howard, Roger, Charles, Victor and Martin, whilst Jeremy’s group B with Suzanne, Andrew, Graham, Chris, Rod and Deborah followed a few minutes later – 15 Windmillers heading out to soak up the sights of Cambridge.
This is where we went, anticlockwise:
Brian’s group sped along the multi-coloured DNA path towards Addenbrooke’s but Jeremy reports that his group stopped and he mentioned its significance: “In 2005, as a celebration of the 10,000th mile of the national cycle network, Cambridgeshire County Council and Sustrans created a DNA-inspired cycle path. The path is decorated with 10,257 colourful stripes, which represent the four nucleotides of the BRCA2 gene.” Brian’s group: Nota bene gene, and stop thinking about coffee.
The Cambridge busway created much discussion as Group A approached Cambridge, following the tragic death of a pedestrian when hit by a bus in October. This followed the death of a Sawston cyclist, Stephen Moir, in 2018, the investigation of which by the HSE has yet to be published. Another bus veered off the busway and crashed into the embankment in 2016, luckily missing cyclists and pedestrians. Whoever thought up such a crazy scheme? Scandalous!
Once through the back streets of Mill Road, the route took us up the side of the River Cam where precautions were taken not to do a Rod, Vernon, Martin or Charles, all of whom had crashed previously in one form or another whilst passing bollards or on the river path. Luckily nothing untoward happened but there was still a crash to come……….
Brian chose a fine coffee stop at the old station in Histon, alongside the busway, where Groups A and B met up momentarily. Both groups stopped to admire the new Chisholm Trail bridge over the Cam and this is what Jeremy said about it, “The Chisholm Trail bridge, which connects Abbey ward and Chesterton, was lifted into place by very large cranes in the early hours of November 8 2020. It is a key part of the Trail, which when completed will be a 26km route from Trumpington to St Ives. It is named after sustainable transport campaigner Jim Chisholm, who first proposed the idea more than two decades ago.”
On a less cultural level, knobbly knees were again in evidence on this ‘shall we, shan’t we wear long trousers day’.
Not long after leaving Histon, the crash happened at the Oakington junction on the busway, but nothing too serious, when Nigel collided with Brian. Here is the evidence:
The route then took us through to Girton and down to the new University site of Eddington with its modern architecture and all the trappings of a new community – fields, footpaths, cycle paths, a lake, bus station, supermarket, an award winning community centre and sculptures. Skirting the lake the first sculpture was the Fata Morgana Teahouse, as above, an impressive tower of stainless steel mesh with steps up to the top level for good views over the lake (although opening the mesh in places might have afforded better views). The sculpture was designed by Wolfgang Winter and Berthold Horbelt and was presumably inspired by a trip to Japan.
Next up was the Pixel Wall, by the same artists, which was not dissimilar to the distorting mirrors on the Palace Pier in Brighton:
Group B also stopped to take a look at the award winning Storey’s Field Centre and Eddington Nursery, which is also a very impressive space for all community purposes – probably the best village hall in the UK.
Then it was a question of wending our way along cycle paths and alleys on the west of Cambridge, down to Newnham and along the bike path to Granchester before heading through to Trumpington Meadows, over the M11 to Hauxton, through what was Fison’s contaminated site and which is now a housing estate, and finally back to The Three Horseshoes.
Group B’s cultural tour took a bit longer than Group A’s but eventually we all sat down to an excellent lunch washed down by some fine ales.
Many thanks to Brain and Jeremy for planning and leading us around the delightful route, to Andrew for organising us and to photographers too numerous to mention.
Meeting at Andrew’s house at the earlier time of 2.00pm, five devils comprising the devil himslf, Andrew, and his disciples Alan, Charles, Simon and Martin met up with a sixth, Jenni, in Saffron Walden to cruise around some pleasant lanes, taking in Debden, Radwinter and Sewards End and hamlets in between. The seventh would have been Maurice but he was catching sea bass in Cornwall.
We had no idea what a treat there was in store once the sun got below the cloud cover and began to set.
This is where we went:
Waving goodbye to Queen-devil Jenni in Saffron Walden, the remaining five devils headed back to Wendens Ambo where Andrew offered a hell of a good choice of beers but, sadly, the light was going and so Charles and Alan continued on their way back to Chrishall and Great Chishill, clocking up around 35 miles in all – well done, chaps – leaving Simon and Martin to partake of the devil’s brew, i.e. Abbott Ale, in front of a roaring fire.
Thanks go to the devil himself, Andrew, for devising the route and for his hospitality at the end, and to Simon and Charles for their photographs.
The day after the clocks go back might be considered the onset of winter but, instead, knobbly knees were still in evidence on this ride from The Tally Ho! in Barkway, but some more knobbly than others. Will those above stand a chance of winning the 2021 Knobbly Knee Kup? Only those attending the forthcoming Christmas lunch will find out.
The fine weather produced a good turnout of nine Windmillers at the earlier time of 2.30pm, with a promise of the pub being open on our return – Maurice, Andrew, Sandra, Rod, Alan, Charles, Nick, Nigel and Martin. It was great to have Nigel with us again telling tales of his recent motorbike ride around the Picos de Europa in Northern Spain.
As usual, Maurice shot off on his e-bike and it wasn’t until the end of Barkway High Street that the tail enders caught up, after which Storm Sandra was in her element tackling the head-on wind on the road towards Reed, where Alan once lived (next door to The Cabinet, lucky chap).
Not long after the above photo was taken, one of the flooded dips encountered on 18 October was traversed again, but this time it was not so deep, thankfully. Deborah would hardly have got her feet wet.
Sandon is a lovely sunny village, perched as it is on top of a hill with magnificent views all around – a good location for John and Lyn Bagrie and their love of horse riding, walking, running and cycling. Could do with a pub, though.
Down to Buntingford we sped, with Rod spotting two huge buzzards on the way, stopping briefly with Sandra to put Charles’s chain back on, and through to Wyddial and past ‘visions of loveliness lane’ until we crossed the road towards Anstey. Nick and Alan both peeled off to head for home whilst the remaining Windmillers returned to The Tally Ho! via Nuthampstead to enjoy a pint and watch England beat Sri Lanka in the T20 World Cup on the pub’s telly. All in all a great end to a great ride.
This is where we went:
Thanks go to Maurice for leading the way, to Andrew for organising us and Charles for his photos.
The Plough at Rede was once again the meeting place for this tour of sunny Suffolk lanes. Brian and Joyce, the owners of the pub, had just entered their 40th year of running it and it was good to offer them our congratulations on arriving for coffee at 9.00am and placing our lunch orders. Providing good food and beer in a wonderful location, a friendly welcome and great efficiency, it’s no wonder the pub has been so successful over the years.
Maurice, Brian, Sandra, Rod and Chris set off as Group A followed a few minutes later by Andrew, Howard, Roger, Simon, Deborah, Ken and Martin. This is where we went, clockwise:
Passing initially through the pretty village of Hawkedon with its church surrounded by green meadows we cruised down a valley before the first climb up to Somerton where Group B stopped to watch Simon experimenting with what effect gravity might have on a tyre dumped by the roadside. Luckily it rolled towards a ditch instead of careering down the hill we had just climbed.
Hartest Hill came next, which resulted in another stop at the top to regain breath, followed by a pleasant run through to Lavenham and onwards to Café Como at Brent Eleigh, which necessitated taking the busy A1141 towards Hadleigh. We were reminded of how careful we have to be whilst making rare use of A-roads when Simon was overtaken by a Fiat Panda as a car was coming towards it on a clear stretch of road, leaving barely an inch between either of them – a narrow squeeze indeed.
Café Como is a popular place for cyclists and deservedly so judging by the quality of the coffee and cakes, the oozy flapjacks being especially tasty.
The return leg took us again through delightful villages and lanes with some interesting architecture.
The countryside past Glemsford became quite hilly again, steep enough to tempt Roger and Martin to don skis at one stage given sufficient snow, with a splendid view towards Hawkedon at the end (main photo above).
Then it was back to The Plough to down a well earned pint and enjoy a good lunch, except for Deborah who had to head back, but we were joined by Suzanne who had cycled all the way from Abington and who had a strong head-wind for her return leg.
Thanks go once again to Maurice and Andrew for planning the route and organising us, and to Deborah and Brian for their photographs.
This was a ride of great extremes of weather – cold and miserable at the start, warm and sunny at the end and flooded roads to contend with at many points on the circuit from The Fox and Duck at Therfield. The photographs tell the tale, but floods are difficult to photograph when pedal high in water and so you’ll have to take my word that we did in fact traverse a few.
It was a go, no-go decision for Ken but, recovering from a bug, he decided wisely to do a shorter ride and meet us on the return leg. The remaining 12 Windmillers comprising Maurice (in his smart yellow rain hat), Alan, Charles, Rod (also in a yellow hat), Sandra, Deborah, Howard, Roger, Chris, Brian, Simon and Martin chose to believe the weather forecast and set off in the direction of Buntingford in two groups.
Just outside Therfield Group B met John Bagrie coming the other way who joined up for a while before choosing his own route (and most probably avoiding the floods). He was later spotted in Ardley and then reached Sandon before both Groups A and B.
Group A decided to try their luck with the café proprietor in Westmill and managed to be seated at an inside table, as it was still pretty miserable outside. Group B pressed on to Church Farm at Ardley, passing through some autumnal Hertfordshire scenery as the sun began to emerge.
The return leg took us through more water-logged roads as far as Sandon where Group B spotted Group A just leaving after stopping to chat with John who was sunning himself on a seat overlooking the famous duck pond.
There was one final flood to pass through between Sandon and Therfield, one that deterred Ken from heading towards us and who instead headed down to Royston for an excellent coffee at Macdonald’s. Just as well because Deborah reported water soaking her shoes, which must have explained the squelching sounds coming from the other end of the table at lunch.
Back at The Fox and Duck, we sat at ‘our’ table and enjoyed a good lunch.
Thanks go to Maurice for changing the route to avoid a section on the A505 and to Andrew, who was nursing a bad back and couldn’t join us, for organising us. Thanks also to Charles for some of the photos.
Simon’s legs were much in evidence again on this damp ride and at one stage near Furneux Pelham he almost regretted not wearing thick leather trousers and armour plated boots. He doesn’t usually shave his legs, as far as we know, but a lady with a gang mower nearly did it for him.
Starting from The Bull at Lower Langley at 3.00pm on an afternoon that threatened a downpour, but luckily held off, Andrew, Rod, Alan, Simon, Sanda and Martin set off on a spur-of-the-moment route that Andrew devised to take us around the lanes and back by opening time. That’s what good planning is all about.
Everything went well until the lady with the gang mower was encountered, mowing a verge on a Byway approaching Furneux Pelham in the same direction as we were going. Alan passed by safely but as Simon was passing the lady suddenly did a U-turn without looking behind her and both she and Simon screeched to a halt with the blades still spinning a few centimetres from his legs. The look of shock on both faces was considerable but at least Simon escaped unshaven.
Thereafter, things improved and we settled down into a pleasant ride around familiar lanes until we came across a Road Closed section between Great Hormead and Anstey, a situation which rarely deters Windmillers. Having been encouraged to give it a go by a workman at one end of the section, we soon encountered a large Tarmac lorry, spreaders, rollers and a gang of workmen who made it clear we were not wanted. So there was nothing for it but to follow Sandra and take the stubble field bypass alongside the road, give them a cheery wave, cross a deep ditch and we were soon back en route again.
As we passed through Anstey we gave Keith a shout and a wave and hoped we would be seeing him out with us again some time. The Blind Fiddler is a pub well worth visiting too, and it opens early.
Back at The Bull we were given a warm welcome and Rod and Sandra bought the beers – thanks both! There was some Crafty beer on tap which was excellent. Sadly, Alan and Andrew both missed out as Alan headed back to Great Chishill at Shaftenhoe End and Andrew had to dash off to cook a road-kill pheasant for supper.
This is where we went:
Thanks to Andrew for planning the route on the spur of the moment and for organising us.
Men of Essex were ticked off roundly it seems during World War 1 for not enlisting in their regiment, which had seen honours in Egypt, Gibraltar, the Battle of Waterloo and South Africa, amongst many other battles. So says the poster in The Chestnut Tree, West Wratting, as well as reminding women to do women’s work. Not only that, but women are reprimanded in another poster for excessive drinking and asked to leave the pub after having had ‘reasonable refreshment’. Meanwhile, the South Midland Divisional Cyclist Company was recruiting enthusiastic cyclists to ‘cycle for the King’ and pedal abroad somewhere having been given a free bike, uniform and clothing. Furthermore, having bad teeth was not deemed to be an issue. What a fab deal, except the cycling probably involved ferrying messages from trench to trench in the battlefields, for which task having bad teeth was a minor problem except, perhaps, for those on the receiving end of the messages.
These eclectic posters which adorn the walls of The Chestnut Tree provide a stark reminder of how lucky we are not to have fought in any world wars, although Charles has of course been in the thick of it during his Army career. Well done, Charles; we salute you. Fortunately, women are allowed to stay longer in pubs too, whether or not they have consumed a large amount of alcohol, and those fond of cycling like Windmillers can go where they like, when they like, except they have to pay for their own bike these days.
Thus ended a repeat of a ride to Finchingfield and back attended by Maurice, Graham, Ken, Victor, Alan, Rod, Brian, Jeremy, Howard, Roger, Simon and Martin. Charles was due to take part too but somehow or other he left his helmet at home and felt naked without one. (Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. So easily done. Ed.)
This is where we went:
It was a windy day and dry except for a few spots of rain whilst having coffee in Finchingfield.
Finchingfield is such a photogenic place that it’s no wonder the locals get a bit cheesed off at times with all the tourists. But it’s good business for the cafés and pubs.
Back at The Chestnut Tree we were joined for lunch by Suzanne, showing off her flashy new bike, and Geoff who had recovered from a back injury whilst weeding his garden – moral of the story, cycle don’t weed.
Yet another good lunch was consumed, washed down with some fine ales. How can one tire of such a place?
Thanks to Maurice for organising the ride, Graham for the gpx file and Brian for some of the photos.
Some blog followers might be forgiven for thinking that Monday rides in August and September didn’t happen, but that’s not the case! It’s just that the blogmeisters didn’t get their act together, but holidays have taken their toll too. So here’s a summary of how Windmillers spent their Monday afternoons recently – far removed from what the Mamas and Papas thought of Mondays:
Every other day, every other day Every other day, every other day of the week is fine, yeah But whenever Monday comes, but whenever Monday comes But whenever Monday comes, you can find me cryin’ all of the time
9 August. Andrew, Charles, Nick, Rod Deborah and Alan set off from the Red Cow at 16.30 for a 21 mile ride to the power line capital of Essex, Stocking Pelham, and back.
16 August. Meeting again at The Red Cow at 16.30, Maurice led a ride with Sandra, Rod, Alan, Nick and Simon in tow on a magical mystery tour of the lanes – no sign of a map on WhatsApp but Great Chishill was clearly en route judging by this wonderful photo taken by Rod:
23 August. Not sure who attended or where they went but Andrew, Nick, Charles, Sandra, Maurice and Simon might have been amongst them.
30 August. Bank holiday Monday. No ride but some may have met up at the Upper Langley fete on Andrew’s recommendation for light sabre training and to feast on amazing cakes:
Towards the end of August news began to emerge of illness affecting Lawrence and Simon Oughton, both of whom were expecting to have operations in the coming weeks. We wish them both well and look forward to having them join us again once recovered. (Lawrence kept cycling throughout September and on Doctor’s orders, not to mention Nurse Elaine, has been piling on the calories.)
Maurice had a lucky escape at the end of August when his bike was hit by a maniac car driver as he was crossing the A1198 north of Royston and he got thrown off. He landed with a thump but promptly continued his journey to pick up his car and drove home. It was only later that shock set in and bruises began to appear but it could easily have been a lot worse. He needed a few days to recover, assisted by large quantities of pain killer.
6 September. With Maurice injured and Andrew away, Martin arranged a ride from The Bull at Lower Langley for a change but who should turn up – Maurice! It takes a lot to put a good man down. Accompanied by Charles, Sandra, Nick, Alan, Jenni, Simon, and Graham, the ride took place on a lovely evening and included an off-road section which was a good test for Maurice’s ribs.
13 September. Back to The Bull for a ride organised by Andrew with Charles, Nick, Rod, Jeremy, Simon, Deborah and Martin in tow. Luckily Violet’s Lane, known as the longest ford in Europe, was dry at the top end but Graham discovered what it can be like at times:
20 September. This was Black Forest week for Simon and Martin, Andrew was attending a bash at Rusack’s Hotel in St Andrew’s and Deborah was sunning herself in Spain. Maurice organised the ride, again from The Bull, and whizzed around the lanes with Charles, Rod, Nick, Alan and Graham in tow.
27 September. On yet another lovely September evening where better to start and end a ride? Yes, you guessed it, The Bull once again. It’s been good to re-aquaint ourselves in recent weeks with this unpretentious, quintessentially English country pub. Andrew was still away, this time quaffing port in Portugal, but Maurice, Charles, Rod, Alan, Sandra, Simon, Graham, Lawrence and Martin set off at the earlier time of 16.00 due to the days beginning to shorten and the shadows getting longer. Maurice put us through our paces with several bastardos to contend with and a high average speed but this just created more business for The Bull once we had returned. And it was great to have John Bagrie join us who had been doing his own thing, but threatening to join us on a Thursday ride. Riding in small groups of 6 / 7 makes life easier for all concerned, whether they be Windmillers, motorists or cafés – just like it used to be John!
Thanks go to the organisers of the recent Monday rides and to the photographers, particularly Charles.
20 Windmillers cruised into Finchingfield in three separate groups to take over every available seat outside at Winners Tearoom on what could be a record ride for the Windmill Club. And Maurice joined us for lunch which made a total of 21. What an amazing turnout!
Assembling once again at the fabulous Chestnut Tree in West Wratting at 9.00am to have coffee and place lunch orders, the groups setting off included Andrew, Brian, Sandra, Ric, Charles, Ken, Victor, Roger, Rod, Graham, Alan, Jeremy, Howard, Mike, Tom, Lawrence, Jenni, Geoff, Simon and Martin. And to think we could so easily have several others join us, were it not for holidays, this says a lot for the club.
It was great to have Lawrence with us, borrowing one of Maurice’s e-bikes for the day, and at the end there were still five blobs left on the battery indicator, having completed the circuit in eco-mode. Mike joined us too but chose wisely not to accompany Graham to the start from Ickleton which would have meant riding via Finchingfield and having breakfast in Haverhill. Brian, Ric, Victor, Tom, Jeremy and Howard also rode from their homes, clocking up many more miles / km. Well done to everyone.
Here is the route taken, anticlockwise:
Winners coped well with the invasion and dished up excellent coffee and cakes with great efficiency. A feature of the ride were the extraordinary smells that surrounded us, not just of the coffee but those of the harvested countryside – a mixed fragrance of freshly combined and ploughed fields which nasal buds were still able to detect despite frequent lateral flow tests for some.
The first stop for Group B on the return leg had to be Finchingfield’s windmill:
The route then took us up a quiet lane to Helions Bumpstead, passing Jamie Oliver’s new abode on the way:
Simon also came across a classic pile of rusty junk somewhere en route which took his fancy:
Meanwhile, Andrew made a stop in Castle Camps to admire this RAF war memorial:
Back at The Chestnut Tree, the beer flowed plentifully as thirsty and hungry Windmillers arrived for lunch. And once again we were not disappointed.
Maurice was still feeling a bit bashed and bruised from his accident last week but threatening to be back on his bike very soon. There’s no putting that man down.
Thanks to the team involved in planning the route – Howard in particular – and to Andrew for organising the record turnout. Also many thanks to photographers Charles, Brian, Graham and Simon.
Our thoughts today as we gathered for coffee at the Pig and Abbott in Abington Pigotts were with Lawrence and Simon O, both of whom will be having medical time out shortly. We wish them well for a good recovery and look forward to seeing them again as soon as possible. We also heard about a close shave which Maurice had the previous day whilst crossing the A1198 north of Royston on his bike when a passing motorist clipped his front wheel and knocked him off resulting in a few bruises, but it was great that he could join us for lunch relatively unscathed.
So eight Windmillers, Andrew, Ken, Roger, Charles, Alan, Simon, Howard and Martin set off on a pleasant anticlockwise circuit of Hertfordshire and South Cambs lanes before meeting up with Brian and Victor in Haslingfield who rode over from Shelford. Alan had set off from Great Chishill and Howard had ridden all the way from Saffron Walden, clocking up 70 miles in all. Well done to all those long distance types.
This is where we went:
It wasn’t long before Alan hollered that he had a puncture, just before Barrington, but it turned out to be a mini one which was conquered at regular intervals thereafter by means of his trusty pump.
In Haslingfield Brian and Victor were bemoaning the loss of the Moringa Tree café and its sausage rolls but were having a coffee instead at the nearby village shop, also destined for closure apparently. How will cyclists ever survive in this area in future?
On we went, taking a slight Maurice detour in Bourn as we did so, until another detour was made into what we thought was Bourn Golf Club for coffee until a chap with a yellow hat said it was a construction site for the new clubhouse. The old clubhouse was further down the road, where we pulled in for large slices of freshly made strawberry and cream sponge, but not an Americano or Cappucino in sight – just a bag of something that tasted frothy when stirred into hot water. Hopefully the new clubhouse will invest in a coffee machine.
The return leg was uneventful, except for the occasional pump up by Alan, and relief was expressed all round that we descended the 10% Croydon hill rather than going up it.
Back at the Pig and Abbott somewhat earlier than expected due to a relatively quick flattish ride, it was good to have Maurice join us to give graphic detail of the idiot driver who nearly mowed him down. The driver stopped and asked if he was ok but then drove off without giving his details so if anyone in the Royston area spots a black Vauxhall being driven at high speed, make a note of the number.
Pat’s pies were as good as ever, according to those that had them, and other menu choices were also excellent, washed down with fine ales. We shall be back on 4 November for Vernon’s memorial ride.
Thanks to Maurice for planning the route even though he was unable to take part, Andrew for his organisation and Charles, Simon and Brian for the photographs.