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12 July: Harlington to Harrold-Odell

posted 13 Jul 2015, 02:34 by South Herts   [ updated 13 Aug 2015, 02:56 ]
It was one of Carol's picnic rides in deepest Bedfordshire, so naturally we had all crammed our waterproofs in alongside our picnic hampers.

Group outside station
Starting at Harlington Station allowed us to explore new territory to the north, but with the rail engineering works in place we had all arrived by car.

Cycling on concrete track
Carol took us past the Millbrook Proving Ground (no petrol-heads around at this time) and used the well-surfaced National Cycle Route 51 to cross the A421.  After a steep climb up to a windswept plateau we arrived at Cranfield ready for a break.

We found our way to the Cafe Pacific, overlooking the vast runway at Cranfield, but it had closed down in June and the bookshop/cafe in the village was also closed.  Carol enquired at the village shop and we were given directions back to the Cranfield Students' Union cafe & bar.  Just as well as it was hidden away amongst the myriad of developments on the Cranfield University site.

Toast being served at cafe
We received a warm welcome as we seemed to be the only customers - most students were either on vacation or still in bed at that time.

The CSU cafe was a great find and served up some excellent and good-value meals for us mature students.

Group at picnic table in waterproofs
Sure enough, the rain only really got going as we were enjoying our picnic at Harrold-Odell Country Park.  But it wasn't raining quite hard enough to wash the hundreds of little black flying beetles off our yellow rain jackets.  Oh - the joys of a typical British summer!

muddy track
The rain just got heavier and heavier for most of the 15 miles after lunch and included a brief spell of hail.  We were thoroughly soaked but the sun finally re-emerged as we came into Marston Moretaine on another part of NCR 51.
Sunny picnic table
Drying out at Marston Moretaine Country Park.

Wind turbine
There are some good cycle routes around the country park.  We followed one of them to Stewartby Station, where we could see the few remaining chimneys of the London Brickworks in Marston Vale. Our route then took us through the historic town centre of Ampthill and back to Harlington for the drive back down a rather congested M1 after a memorable day out.

60 mile route.

Jon 12/07/2015