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11 April. Centurians on the Roman Road. 21 miles.

This was almost the reverse of last week’s ride when the tortoises decided to explore the Roman Road byway from Butts Green, near Poppy’s Barn, to Cooper’s End, primarily to get shelter from the wind. Maurice, being one of the hares on that ride, heard such good reports he decided to explore it for himself, this time as Centurian-in-Chief accompanied by his fellow Centurians Andrew, Alan, Charles, Victor, Graham and Martin.

Setting off from The Red Cow, it didn’t take long to reach Cooper’s End despite the long climb up Cogmore Hill to Duddenhoe End. The initial stretch of the Roman road is paved, not in cobblestones but in very smooth tarmac which Roman soldiers would have marvelled at. Quite how a dead-end country lane came to be given such treatment by Essex County Council is a mystery although a recently retired Tory MP, now a Baron in the House of Lords (who once repaid a £12,000 gardening bill he had claimed on Parliamentary expenses) just happens to live at Cooper’s End…………. (Enough of this tittle tattle. Ed.)

At Cosh Farm the smooth tarmac ends abruptly after which a decent surface of road planings continues, not in a dead straight line as shown on the OS map but instead wiggles its way over a ford and then down through the trees as far as Butts Green where it meets the Langley Upper Green – Clavering road. The course of the Roman road actually continues onwards towards Brent Pelham (but not on a public right of way) until it joins the lane we frequently cycle along between there and Meesden. Presumably it carried on towards Braughing and then joined Ermine Street which goes south to London and North to Godmanchester via Royston. Going north east from Cooper’s End would have taken it to Great Chesterford, a major Roman garrison town and where remains are still frequently found.

Windmill Centurians ready for battle

It was good to have Victor with us who was unfamiliar with the local lanes we use on Monday rides but soon appreciated why we like them so much. We are extraordinarily lucky in having such a peaceful and beautiful area to ride around.

It’s oil seed rape time, but no sign these days of Chinese or Japanese tourists who used to come in bus loads to see our yellow fields.

This time there was no road block between Violet’s Lane and Brent Pelham caused by sludge lorries queuing up to deposit their loads, as there was last time, and so we continued to cruise peacefully around until ascending the hills towards Great Chishill and thence to The Red Cow.

Maurice had arranged once again for chips to be available but with Alan having peeled off in Great Chishill and Graham and Andrew having to head for home, this left Maurice, Charles and Martin to scoff large helpings of chips and mayo, washed down with the usual excellent beers on offer.

And this is where we went:

https://www.mapometer.com/embed/27fbebcaf035835908cb366c8d749be9

Thanks to our Centurian-in-Chief Maurice for planning the route and his deputy Andrew for organising us, plus Centurian Charles for some of the photos.

Martin

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7 April. Westerly Windy Windmillers in West Wratting, or WWWWW for short. 28 miles.

48mph or 48kph? Who really cares whether they were imperial or metric gusts of wind forecasted for this ride? Both are Force 8 + on ye olde Beaufort scale and that’s just how it turned out to be for 14 hardy Windmillers as they set out from The Chestnut Tree in West Wratting on a three county circuit of lanes in Cambs, Suffolk and Essex.

Deep in conversations whilst assembling for coffee and lunch ordering at The Chestnut Tree. But what are Simon and Ric talking about?

Maurice led the first group with Ric, Charles, Nigel, Deborah, Alan, Victor and Jeremy in tow, followed shortly afterwards by Andrew, Howard, Brian, Simon, Graham and Martin. The outward leg via Great Wratting was a dream with only the occasional sideways gust reminding us of what we had in store on the return leg.

Having passed St. Peter and St. Paul Church in Kedington on many occasions, it was decided to stop on this ride and take a look inside what is commonly known as ‘The Westminster Abbey of Suffolk’, and we were not disappointed. The interior pays homage to the Barnardiston family, from the nearby hamlet of the same name, and is brimming with tombs of early family members, some of which are covered in graffiti dating back to the 1700s. (Some more recent graffiti includes the word Debbie but we didn’t see Deborah scratching away whilst we were there.)

The interior showing the elaborate roof structure and the Barnardiston family’s private pew, where they must have felt like caged animals at times.
Non-caged Windmillers admiring the wall paintings and roof.
A highlight was this 9th century Saxon Cross in fantastic condition on the windowsill above the alter, which once stood in the churchyard.

Moving on, it wasn’t long before Tarka’s Café came into view at Baythorne End – always a good place to stop for excellent coffee and oversized cakes.

As Group B was leaving the café who should be seen returning but poor Deborah whose Group A had shot off at speed and not waited for her at the first junction. She was warmly welcomed into the fold of Group B who wouldn’t dream of such behaviour.

The first section of the return leg was quite well sheltered by trees and hedges and so it was only on the exposed parts that we felt the full force of the 48mph / 48kph gusts, most probably the former judging by the speed of the cloud shadows whipping across the fields towards us.

The worst part by far was the stretch between West Wickham and the turning to West Wratting where it was tough going even pedalling downhill.

This is where we went:

https://www.mapometer.com/embed/087f8bf646fde57ff428fc1217236473

All agreed back at the pub that it had been the windiest ever Windmill Club ride. But where was Sandra, someone was heard to say? She would have loved living up to her name of Storm Sandra.

It was great to have Geoff join us for lunch, which was brilliant as always. The Chestnut Tree never lets us down.

Thanks once again to Maurice and Andrew for their organisation and to Charles and Brian for some of the photos, more of which are on The Windmill Club site on Google. Thanks also to Jeremy for the WWWWW inspiration.

Martin

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4 April. Hares and tortoises. 20 Miles.

It didn’t matter whether you were a hare or a tortoise, there was a great selection of beers on tap at The Red Cow in Chrishall after the ride, and some great chips too, specially cooked for the six Windmillers on this ride around the lanes.

Maurice, Graham and Sandra (the hares), Andrew, Simon and Martin (the tortoises) all set off together at 4.00pm but the hares eventually charged ahead whilst the tortoises pootled along planning their forthcoming French ride, amongst other things, and how to avoid the strong wind on the return leg.

This was the planned route, taken by the hares:

https://www.mapometer.com/embed/25e1cba6484da49cc78b8e384c3e3824

After a very pleasant anti-clockwise circuit via Great Chishill, Nuthampsted, Anstey, Brent Pelham and Starlings Green, the tortoises had other plans shortly after passing Poppy’s Barn when they decided to take the Roman Road byway to Coopers End, and to then rejoin the route at Duddenhoe End. Despite the recent rain this turned out to be a very pleasant route on a good surface of road planings but with a ford to cross at one point, so best done after a spell of dry weather.

Simon and Andrew admiring the primroses at Coopers End.

Back at The Red Cow, Graham peeled off, having been on the road for the best part of 4 hours, leaving the others to have a beer and tuck into the excellent chips.

Thanks, Maurice, for planning the ride and chips, and Andrew for getting us to the starting line. 4.00pm seems to be a popular time to start Monday rides and so we’re hoping for a good gathering on future Mondays now that the weather is improving. All we need now is less wind.

Martin

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24 March. Glorious spring non-Covid ride. 32 miles.

Essex put on its finest Spring clothes for 11 negative (so to speak) Windmillers who assembled at The Cock in Henham for a figure of 8 ride to Finchingfield and back. Covid was all around, with Simon unable to attend due to catching the dreaded lurgy, and Martin said a plague had descended on his house, thanks to snotty nosed grandchildren rushing about whilst currently residing in his house. He was positively negative but this didn’t stop Windmillers keeping a safe distance from him, understandably. And both Graham and Charles had reported large dollops of family / friends with Covid, which seems to indicate we’ll all follow in the pioneering footsteps of Brian and Roger sooner or later.

Having assembled to order lunch beforehand, Maurice led the way followed by Ric, Sandra, Nigel and Ken. Then a few minutes later, Andrew, Roger, Deborah, Howard, Jeremy and Martin set off at a more steady pace.

Determined to keep his distance from any would-be Covid carriers, or possibly wanting to compete with Charles for the 2022 sartorial sock award, Andrew donned some ferociously worded socks and produced a V sign to anyone who got close, particularly Martin.

No social distancing on the photographer’s part, nor by Jeremy.
Andrew’s Covid-precaution measure during coffee in Finchingfield

Maurice’s route took us through lovely quiet lanes where the early onset of Spring could be enjoyed – hedgerows bursting with growth, daffoldils everywhere, cherry blossom on show and even fields of oilseed rape starting to turn yellow. Maybe there’s a shock in store for all that foliage, not to mention the birds who seem hell bent on mating and building nests?

The obligatory stop to pay homage to Great Bardfield windmill
St Katherine’s Church in Little Bardfield, a jewel of a Grade 1 listed church tucked away down a lane and containing the newly-restored 1688 Renatus Harris organ, the most significant historic organ in Essex.
Cherry blossom in Great Bardfield

Andrew was socially distancing on the return leg, Martin was stopping to snap away and so various routes were taken on the way back. Andrew whizzed by the junction in Thaxted but realised his error and U-turned whilst Martin who followed on a few minutes later opted for a shorter route back to Henham and got there before the rest of the group, clocking up the shortest distance of the day of 29 miles. The longest ride of the day was achieved by Ric who cycled from Harston, clocking up around 70 miles in all. Well done Ric!

Tucking in at The Cock

Thanks as always to Maurice and Andrew for organising the ride.

Martin

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28 March. Axe and Compasses axed by fire. 20 miles.

News of the tragic fire which destroyed the Grade 2 listed Axe and Compasses pub in Arkesden began to circulate shortly after 11.45am on 27 March, just before 150 diners were due to celebrate Mother’s Day. Popular with Windmillers, both as a stopping point whilst on a ride and for meals with family and friends, the pub will be sorely missed by many people. The moussaka was legendary – how far do we have to go now to enjoy such good minced lamb, aubergines and tomatoes with a cheese sauce on top?

It was therefore appropriate for seven Windmillers to pay their respects, namely Maurice, Andrew, Sandra, Simon, Charles, Graham and Martin, who started the ride at The Red Cow in Chrishall before passing through Arkesden.

Ten fire engines arrived from Saffron Walden, Newport and Stansted to tackle the blaze but were unable to save the building due to the rapid spread of the fire through a thatched roof. Only part of the building remained, on the right hand side, but this was severely damaged by water penetration. Our sympathies go to the Christou family who have run the pub for over 30 years, dishing up several tons of moussaka during that time.

Moving on through Clavering and Starlings Green it wasn’t long before we took a left down Violets Lane and through the remains of some thick mud before heading towards Brent Pelham, only to find our path blocked by a huge sludge lorry attempting to head towards us. Quite how he was planning to attempt the corner at Violets Lane, we didn’t stop to enquire but we managed to just squeeze past. All became clear when we then came across what must be a record jam of sludge lorries in Hertfordshire – not just one but seven in total!

Windmillers take the field edge by-pass to get round the sludge lorries. Luckily, not a car in sight.
Left or right of the lorry ahead? Decisions decisions.
Graham keeping his distance from a lorry load of sludge. William Gilder specialise in shifting nasty smelling stuff and were most probably connecting their lorries up to the pipe on the left to discharge bio-waste / slurry on to the adjacent field.

Writing about sludge brings back memories of an awful Limerick once heard about sewage:

There once was a man named McBride.
Who fell in the sewer and died.
The same day his brother
Fell in another,
And they were interred side by side.

(Love the last line!)

Back at The Red Cow, Andrew and Graham headed back home, Graham having been on the road since 2.00pm when he was spotted on Coploe Hill by Martin, who was tending his allotment. Graham was followed by Andrew, leaving the remaining five to have a drink and a laugh. And thanks to Charles for buying a round of drinks, and for some of the photos.

Thanks to Maurice as always for organising a pleasant route and Andrew for his organisation.

This is where we went:

Martin

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17 February. The lull between Dudley and Eunice. 26 – 31 miles.

Storms Dudley and Eunice had a truce on 17 February but Eunice was declared the victor after a ferocious attack on houses and trees the following day when record gusts of wind were recorded. Even so, the lull was still expected to produce winds of 38mph and so at the last minute the management decided to shorten the route. It was therefore most appropriate that we would be riding through:

The rivers were already full (that’s Barwick Ford in the featured photo above which some brave Windmillers often cycle through) and so there was potentially an interesting ride ahead, starting from The Golden Fleece in Braughing.

Fourteen Windmillers gathered together at 9.00am to place their orders for lunch before departing ahead of schedule, the last group leaving at 9.25am. Perhaps the thought of game stew and dumplings at lunch was already producing hunger pangs for some.

Maurice was the first to whizz off with his group A of 5 followed by Andrew’s group B of 4 and finally Brian’s group C of 5. The route was a clockwise circuit taking in Puckeridge, Barwick Ford, Ware, Hertford, Sacombe Park and back to Puckeridge, except for Martin and Graham who chose a longer route (or so they claimed) via Westmill, Buntingford and Hare Street to clock up 31 miles in all. (In fact, it was a major navigational error by Martin, having stopped to take the Nasty photo above, so he’s already in the running for the annual got lost award normally won by Simon).

Despite the change of plan, the lanes were pleasantly quiet and sheltered and so there really was a lull between storms Dudley and Eunice.

Hazel, Roger, Martin and Graham take the high road across Barwick Ford
Fanham’s Hall in Wareside brought back happy memories for Hazel who attended management training courses there whilst working for Sainsbury’s. It is an 18th-century Queen Anne House-style country house and is Grade II* listed, now operating as a hotel. The interior is decorated in the Arts and Crafts style with plasterwork by L A Turner and stained glass by Morris and Co. in the library. A former owner Lady Brocket had a keen interest in horticulture and influenced the employment of Japanese gardeners to create the Hall’s formal gardens. Her ornamental lakes and choice of trees (such as Japanese maples) can still be seen in the present-day formal grounds, as can the “Fuji-yama Mound” which was built with earth from the Hall’s lakes.[1]The garden is listed grade II on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. The grounds are open to the public and groups of visitors welcomed, even sweaty Windmillers some time in the future. Could be a good base for a ride or coffee stop?

Stopping for coffee in Ware was very pleasant, as usual, most choosing to sit inside to warm up a bit. Andrew was left out in the cold, however, on account of his Covid avoidance measures prior to departing on a cruise around the Caribbean.

The return leg was initially Cycle Route no. 61 along the towpath of the River Lee towards Hertford which is always a delight, but quite busy with pedestrians so care was needed.

Navigating through the meadows after Hertford Lock took some doing for Group C, and maybe the others too, due to the bridge towards Bengeo Hall being closed but a quick U-turn soon had the group heading in the right direction. Once out of Hertford the traffic eased and we were alone in Sacombe Park before heading to Dane End and Great Munden, where a pal of Maurice owns the village church. Maurice’s pals seem to own large chunks of Hertfordshire.

The Nasty experience was fine for everyone except Martin and Graham who arrived for lunch to find Group A had already finished and Group B were half way through. However, there was still plenty of game stew and dumplings left which was voted extremely good by those who had it.

Martin and Graham arriving slightly late for lunch
Empty plates in evidence for Group A (Hazel and Roger from Group C waiting patiently for their lunch to arrive)
We even had our own Court Jester to entertain us.

Thanks to the management team of Maurice and Andrew for organising and amending the ride to 26 miles at short notice (but only Martin and Graham achieved the usual 30 miles or so, unintentionally.) Thanks also to photographers, Brian, Charles and Deborah.

Martin

PS. This is what Eunice did to Martin’s beloved walnut tree the following day. Deborah and Jenni stopped by to take a look.

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10 February. Five star ride. 31 miles.

Unable to fill up with Five Star at Baythorn End, despite Andrew trying to squeeze the last drop from the pipe, this group didn’t give up. They tried yet again in Kedington but neither pump would oblige and so there was nothing for it but to keep pedalling into the wind on the return leg to West Wratting.

Ric and Victor tried their hardest but Five Star had run out here too

Setting out earlier after meeting at 9.00am for coffee at The Chestnut Tree in West Wratting and placing the all important lunch order, 15 Windmillers rode forth on an anticlockwise circuit of lanes in three Counties – Cambs., Essex and Suffolk – and what glorious lanes they were too. Maurice led the way for group A with Rod, Alan, Howard and Ken in tow, followed by Andrew leading Group B with Victor, Ric, Roger and Martin, and finally Brian leading Group C with Deborah, Graham, Geoff and Charles – five star riders in each group.

‘Now, what would you like to order for lunch, Sir? Sorry, haggis is off.’

This is where we went:

‘Hey! Wait for me.’

The weather was kind on the whole, a bit overcast but blue skies at times and, most importantly, dry. Not bad for early February. The coffee stop was at Baythorn End where we were greeted warmly, as usual, and served good coffee and cakes by the efficient staff – always worth the risk of being run over by a large lorry on the short stretch of the A1017 which is needed to get there.

The return leg took us around the north of Haverhill, thank the Lord, taking in the pretty village of Kedington with its rather ungainly looking church of St Peter and St Paul, but inside it houses a magnificent array of treasures:

The ungainly looking church of St Peter and St Paul in Kedington is one of the historical treasures of East Anglia, virtually untouched by the Victorians and stuffed full of fantastic monuments to the Barnardistons who were Lords of the Manor from 13th century until 1745.
There are many family box pews, the most elaborate being the manorial pew of the Barnardistons dating back to around 1610. This is why it is known as the Westminster Abbey of Suffolk. Must pop in the next time we’re passing.

Charles’s rear facing camera was busy clicking away and so it’s always best to be polite and keep a smile on one’s face whilst following him – clearly designed primarily to snap any offending motorist. We should all have one!

Back at The Chestnut Tree, big helpings of everything from Maurice’s favourite grilled salmon to ham, double egg and chips (with a field mushroom, but not sure where those come from this time of year), washed down with excellent ales, created a degree of contentment hard to equal anywhere.

Thanks again to Maurice and Andrew for organising another ride from The Chestnut Tree, to Charles for some of the photos and, of course, to everyone who took part.

Martin

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Tally Ho! 20 miles

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.

Martin

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6 January. Nice icy ride. 29 miles.

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.

Image
If Graham got cold, how about these guys?

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.

Group C warming up with some old fashioned ploughing, led by birthday-boy Victor

The return leg took us through more villages including Dalham where a fascinating looking building was spotted next to the road.

Is it an ice house? Is it a large beehive? No, it’s a Georgian malting kiln in Dalham, 8 metres high with a diameter of about 4m at base and has a l metre diameter at the head. Once a common sight across Suffolk, malting kilns such as Dalham’s are now only to be found at two locations in this county. Not surprisingly therefore this kiln at Malt Kiln House now appears in the Register of Historic Buildings.

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:

Groups B & C pause awhile for a photo call. From the left, Andrew, Sandra, Howard, Tom, Victor, Graham, Hazel, Roger, Deborah.
The River Kennett at Moulton, not the river it once was

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.

Martin

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3 January. Masochistic start to the New Year. 21 miles.

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 start and finish were the easy bits
It was great to have Hazel join us again after time off to rest a wounded knee

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.

No need to reduce speed here with Maurice waving Windmillers safely across the Strethall crossroads before ascending the next hill towards Littlebury

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.

Phew! The top of the final climb up to Chrishall

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.

Thanks to Charles for some of the photos.

Martin

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30 December. Balmy last ride of the year. 31 miles.

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.

Getting in a caffein fix before the start

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).

Our leaders, Maurice and Andrew, showing us the way – there or back? Not quite sure.

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.

Maurice with Rachel and Peter of The Chestnut Tree, winners of the The Windmill Pub of the Year

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!

Martin

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20 December. Nearing the End with the Ends. Ho ho. 20 miles.

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.

Graham in go-faster Christmas jumper mode

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:

Maurice presenting a £1,000 cheque to Simon for Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust, accompanied by (from the left) Graham, Ken, Martin, Rod, Andrew, Ann and Alan. And thanks to Ollie for the photo.
Simon and Ollie

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.

Martin

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13 December. Mud, mud, glorious mud, nothing quite like it. 18 miles.

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:

Simon, Andrew, Maurice, Sandra, Nick and Graham stopping for a breather outside All Saints Church, Rickling – a Grade 1 listed 13th century building constructed almost entirely from flint.

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.

This strange looking machine struggled in the match against Essex Mud, losing 5 – 55.

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.

Nick taking it steady on approaching Violet’s Ford

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.

Martin

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2021 Awards and charity distributions

The following distributions to charities were announced at the Christmas lunch, following a record breaking raising of £7,000 by The Windmill Club in 2021:

And the Awards went to:

Clubman of the Year – Charles

Golden Pedal award – Prof Simon

Unsung hero of the year – Andrew

Favourite pub – The Chestnut Tree, West Wratting

Favourite coffee stop – Winners, Finchingfield

Best shepherd – Maurice

Knobbliest knees award – Charles

Best Father Christmas – Graham

Spot the Song competition – Alan

Not the navigator prize – Prof Simon

Best chimney sweep – Prof Simon

Pigeon Poet Laureat award – Prof Simon

Hosiery award – Charles (2nd year running)

Best pies – Pat, Pig and Abbott, Abington Piggotts

Puncture prize – Jeremy

Fastest puncture repair award – Brian

Longest distance award – Graham (2nd year running, 13,000+ km)

Biggest smile – Roger

Involuntary dismount prize – equally to Rod, Mike, Geoff, Charles, Deborah and Martin who all fell off on the same icy day

Good Samaritan prize – Deborah (2nd year running)

Gutsy prize – Lawrence

Wildlife award – Sandra

Garmin GPX perseverence award – Andrew

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9 December. Time just pedals by – 501st Windmill Club blog features 30 mile Therfield 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.

Happy Windmillers at The Golden Fleece

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.

Victor, Charles, Howard and Brian all chatted up Charlie and his owner – on their way across country to Mill End according to Victor, not Banbury Cross. No signs of rings on her fingers or bells on her toes.
The lady said she wouldn’t swap her horse for a bike, not even Maurice’s e-bike.

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:

Andrew leading the prayers for forgiveness outside St. Nicholas in Great Munden, but God wasn’t listening. It turns out the church is a private building owned by a mate of Maurice! It’s in fine condition – good place for a Windmill Club party? https://hertfordshirechurches.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/st-nicholas-great-munden/

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:

The vast expanse of Moor Green
Maurice deep in his beloved North Hertfordshire

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.

Martin

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2 December. Christmas dress rehearsal and corny jokes. 31 miles.

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:

Thumbs up or down for the East- West rail link and its route across Chapel Hill, the lines of which are shown on the vertical boards? Deborah abstained, Graham and Sandra can’t seem to make up their minds, whilst Martin and Rod are distinctly pro. Photographer Simon thought it would happen too but after subsequent discussion with Brian over coffee / lunch pronounced that we would all be much better off if a new land value tax was introduced when new infrastructure projects are created, as in more modern economies such as Canada and Singapore. Hear hear! Why should landowners / property developers be the only ones to benefit when a new motorway or bypass is built? Tax ’em!

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.

Simon’s new best friend

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.

St Denis' church, East Hatley, Cambridgeshire – the newly cleaned Downing plaque, 13th April 2018. It's in the porch, above the door. Above the date is a cartouche of the arms of Sir George Downing, then owner of the estate of East Hatley.
The newly cleaned Downing plaque in St Denis’ church in East Hatley. Sir George Downing, 1623-84, was a minor politician, diplomat and several times a Member of Parliament (but not in Cambridgeshire).
His house in London gave its name to the street now best known for Boris’s newly decorated residence in which he holds big parties.  It was Downing’s fortune, following the death of the 3rd Sir George, grandson of the first, which led to the foundation of Downing College, Cambridge.

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.

Graham practising his Father Christmas spiel – ‘And have you been a good boy this year?’

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.

Martin

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29 November. Let’s go ice skating. 21 miles.

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:

Cheers! A Wherry good ride.

And this is where we went:

Thanks to everyone who came along.

Martin

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18 November. Culture vultures circle Cambridge. 29 miles.

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’.

Votes are requested for whose knees are the knobblyest. So far, the votes are evenly split between those in the centre and on the right.
Hot numbers? You must be joking
Group A hyped up after some excellent coffee

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.

Windmillers doing what they do best – replacing calories

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.

Martin

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15 November. A devilishly good ride. 24 miles.

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:

Stopping for a quick breather in Radwinter, the sky still overcast
First sign of the colour to come
Looking towards Barkway radio tower on the far horizon
Bang! The sun emerged suddenly with a vengeance on the road back towards Saffron Walden. Here we have three Windmillers, Charles, Jenni and Simon reflecting on life.
Jenni and Simon ablaze in the setting sun. No, Simon is not wearing pink trousers.
Goodnight sun, yet it’s only 4.00pm.

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.

Martin

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1 November. Knobbly knees on show. 19 miles.

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).

A large lorry transporting a small Massey Ferguson 35 in Barkway
A ride of big views, this one looking north east towards Royston and the Gog Magog hills.

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.

Evidence of the still flooded dip on the road to Sandon. A nearby spring seems to be keeping it topped up.

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.

Martin