Iain Dawson, our Rides Secretary, went on this ride and writes:
Heading out into the wind, we worked our way down through Stoke Bruerne, past the southern tip of Towcester and onto the lanes that lie between Paulerspury and Milton Keynes, passing a familiar Sustrans face heading the other way, before Brian navigated us down into Buckingham while managing to avoid traffic completely.
Looking for coffee in Buckingham, we wandered into a courtyard arrangement, similar to where we go in Olney, which held not just a brasserie/bistro but also a bike shop. The shop staff made it clear that there are only two decent places in which to get coffee in Buckingham, and there was nowhere to park bikes within sight of one of them. That left the bistro in the courtyard as the other (and our preferred) choice. Highly recommended, especially for Canadian-style pancakes.
A couple of mini-roundabouts and a short climb saw us out of Buckingham and on the straight, and very grand, approach to Stowe Park but rather than head into the grounds we skirted round them for a short stretch before turning off towards Biddlesdon and thence to Syresham, which appeared to have been taken over by scarecrows for the weekend. From there, the plan was to head up through Helmdon to Sulgarve Manor for lunch but this was a little scuppered when we discovered that the road to Helmdon was closed. After a quick review of the map, it was determined that we could simply do the other two sides of the square so we were stuck on the main road a little longer than had been anticipated, but when we finally turned off it: Tailwind!
Sulgrave was also busy, it being open garden weekend. (And also open-your-car-door-without-looking weekend! Don’t ride too close to parked cars).
Lunch was, I have to say, a disappointment. We’ve been to Sulgrave over and over again and it’s always been fairly reasonable but not so on this trip. I don’t know why it’s changed but changed it has and much for the worse. Thank heavens for coffee-stop pancakes.
Brian had cunningly contrived to make the home leg of the route tailwind-assisted all the way so we made excellent time back to Northampton, Greens Norton’s signpost deficit notwithstanding. Sadly, it wasn’t quite an excellent enough time to prevent us from getting drenched on the A45 cycle path. It seems that the weather had got fed up with us ducking under trees for a couple of minutes when it threw a light shower down and decided to throw everything it had at us when there was no shelter around. It was going alright up until then.