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02 June: Hertford to Gamlingay

posted 3 Jun 2013, 10:39 by South Herts   [ updated 11 Jan 2017, 23:44 ]
Our ride today met up at Hertford and it was good to see some familiar faces not seen for a while.  Our first stop was to be a new venue for us, and a stretch of 20 plus miles, so a direct route seemed sensible.  Heading for Bramfield we were soon halted by mechanical problems and in the end Neil was forced to turn back (due to a broken tube valve).  Sorry to have lost you, Neil, because you missed a good one for lack of a spare 26 in tube which none of us carried.  

We continued through Bragbury End, then following the long climb through Cromer and the other villages, we eventually passed over the watershed, descending to cross the A505.  Our first stop was Pembroke Farm, somewhere new for us and it turned out to be a real delight.  It was a tea shop attached to exceptional gardens.  We took our refreshments in the courtyard.  Alright, it was a bit pricey, but well worth it - one to try again.  

Four at courtyard table
The courtyard at Pembroke Farm
Three at a table

Two lovebirds in a cage
Topiary bushes
Permbroke Farm gardens

Some seemed reluctant to leave, but soon we were climbing up to Ashwell then through the flat Cambridgeshire countryside and small villages - much more open country here, almost a taste of the fens.  At a junction some of our more headstrong members shot ahead missing the right turn.  Would we see them again?  Judging them to be old enough to look after themselves (polite version), we carried on, soon finding ourselves at The Cock Inn in Gamlingay.  Here we met up with some other old friends, and it wasn't long before the separated brethren arrived too.  We enjoyed a pleasant lunch stop in the garden.  
Cyclists approaching junction
Cycling through pretty village

Our homeward leg took us back through Shingay-cum-Wendy and the lanes towards the A505 near Royston.  A slight navigational wobble (definitely not my fault) added a few miles, but fortunately we arrived in Bassingbourn just as Jon & Judy arrived from a different direction and they soon put us straight.  Back on track there was a long climb up the chalk escarpment to Therfield Heath (550') with its bronze age barrows and, for anyone interested in gardening or horticulture, home of the largest native colony of the rare pasque flower in Europe (10,000 were in bloom there recently).  Through Kelshall and Sandon, then passing Cromer windmill we eventually got to the always-pleasing Ardley Church Farm (except Jon & Judy who visited Rushden Nurseries - open 10-4 on Sundays and another possible cafe for us).  

Two cyclists lying on grass
Flaked out##

A certain weariness now seemed to call for the quickest way back - Hertford for most, where cars were waiting, but some peeling off to other places.  It had been a great day out, if a little tiring in the morning with its climbs and nagging head wind.
Richard 02/06/2013