Ride report, Sunday 29th May

Ian Macsporran went on this ride and writes:

In which CTC members, as Cycling UK’s Patron, HM The Queen, would expect, behave legally.

Despite the alarms of the preceding twenty-four hours, when it seemed that as few as two riders would simply stumble along without a leader, a great day out was enjoyed by six riders who gathered in Moulton for the start of Philip’s expedition to Oundle.  His route was to take us on a lovely ride, often along lanes that were new to us.  Quite an achievement given that we have cycled to Oundle many times in the past.  Among the six riders was Jeoff who was tackling his first ride with CTC.  As he was young, he brought our average age down considerably!  Welcome, Jeoff!

It was not a fast getaway.  A cautious crossing of the A43 saw us pedalling through the middle of a travellers’ camp; then an event, apparently called “Supercar Fest the Runway”, had great deal of slow and stationary cars blocking all the roads leading to Sywell aerodrome.  Even at a slow pace, we enjoyed the smug pleasure of going a good deal faster than their occupants.  The Harrowdens were negotiated but the climb to Finedon was interrupted by a flat tyre.  Our leader assisted the stricken cyclist, leading to the unusual shout: “Has anyone brought a pair of pliers?”  This was the cue for Hartley to come to the rescue.  While waiting, we had a conversation with a passing group out for a morning spin.  Mutual acquaintances were, or were not, recognised.

We rode quickly along the A510 for a short distance to cross the A14 at the Cranford.  Then, after Slipton, we headed towards Lowick, slowing again for a most unusual feature: a road which for all the evidence of our eyes was indeed a road (wide, flat, tarmac, speed signs) but which legally was only a footpath.  We behaved legally, dismounting and walking for well over a mile.  This was the approach to and from Drayton House, the “seat” of the Sackvilles.  One can imagine the conversation:

Lady Sackville de Sackville: Dearest, I have received reports that common people are using mechanical contraptions they call velocipedes.  They travel quickly and disturb my afternoon rest as they flicker minutely along the horizon.

Lord Sackville de Sackville: I know nothing of these common people and their contraptions.  What I do know is that my ancestors did not fight alongside William at Hastings in order to allow the Saxon serfs to travel faster than walking pace.  Have they forgotten that my lineage includes earls, viscounts and dukes?  Summon my master of hounds.

The master of hounds is summoned and appears.

Lord Sackville de Sackville: Starve my hounds a little this week.  Should you see any common people travelling faster than walking pace, let them loose so that they may enjoy a taste of flesh!

These legal niceties slowed us down further and, expecting to meet a seventh rider along the lane south from Lowick to the A6116, we were to be disappointed.  Our leader had texted ahead explaining our delays but of the seventh rider there was no sign.  Crossing the A6116 we began to see signposts for Oundle.  Visions of coffee, cake, all-day breakfasts and vegetarian chilli filled our minds and our pace became more rapid.  Aldwincle, Wadenhoe and Stoke Doyle passed in a comparative flash.  Oh my, the wonder of these velocipedes!  An interesting approach to the centre of Oundle via an alleyway led us to Beans, a coffee shop where our visions turned to culinary reality.  An hour of good conversation passed with tales of brave Achilles and reminiscences of decades past.  It must have been bewildering for young Jeoff.

Then we were off, looping through Glapthorn and Benefield, and enjoying the long descent through Brigstock.  Pace was maintained through Grafton Underwood and back to the Cranfords once more. Hurrahs again for velocipedes which could ease through the closed road between Burton Latimer and Isham.  At Orlingbury the group split in half with those who lived in the north of town covering the last few familiar miles back to our start point in Moulton.

Big thanks to Philip for organising and leading and to everyone for their good companionship.  Fifty-five miles covered and, for me, ten of those were along lanes I had not travelled before.  One of the great things about our CTC group is that, no matter how well you know Northamptonshire, the leaders of our rides will reveal to you unknown lanes and their eccentricities!

P.S. After the revolution, velocipedes will be able to use any roads and lanes their riders wish to navigate.  News just in, however, that the coming days are to be filled with fawning and obsequiousness for something called a “jubilee” – of which I know nothing – suggests that the revolution may be delayed by the cunning tactics of the aristocracy.

The wheels of revolution at the gates of privilege

Jubilee ride to Royal Leamington Spa, Sunday 5th June

PhilJ is leading this ride and writes:

Start time: 8.30am
Meeting point: Hunsbury Hill library, Overslade Close, East Hunsbury NN4 0RZ
Distance: 70 miles
Café stop: Café Royal, Royal Leamington Spa
Pace: Steady

To mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, we have put together a royal ride to Royal Leamington Spa. The Café Royal in Royal Leamington Spa in fact. It’s a 70-mile ride of course which takes us on many familiar roads and some roads less travelled.

Pete and I have already ridden it although we didn’t manage to get into Café Royal as it was rather busy on that occasion. It’s at no 70 Warwick Street as it happens. I’m booking a table this time once I have the numbers, so please let me know as soon as possible if you are coming. 

Getting in and out of Leamington was easy enough so don’t worry too much about that.

There’s on street parking for cyclists right across from the café so please bring a lock with you if possible.

It’s a good idea to carry some spare energy with you for such a long ride as well. There might also be an opportunity for another stop on the way back if we keep our eyes peeled.

I’ll be carrying a good old fashioned paper map and have done the ride already. Hopefully some of you will have the GPS route and between us I’m sure we’ll get round the ride without any problems.

This is an 08:30 start from EH which means we should be in Leamington for elevenses or early lunch.

The 116k route is here:  https://ridewithgps.com/routes/39413886

Please use signup here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0f4da5ae23a3fdc61-group

Hope some of you will join me on this special event ride.



Ride to Oundle, Sunday 29th May

PhilipG is leading this ride and writes:

Start time: 9.30am
Meeting point: Moulton Co-op, Stocks Hill, Moulton, NN3 7TB
Distance: 57 miles
Café stop: Oundle
Pace: Steady-12mph

Our next ride is a 57-mile steady to the jewel of East Northants, Oundle. We go out via Finedon, Slipton and Lowick, including a short stretch pushing our bikes on the footpath through picturesque Drayton Park. 

After coffee in Oundle we’ll do the pleasant loop to Glapthorn before turning homewards through Brigstock, Grafton Underwood and Burton Latimer. 

The route is available here: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/39488341

Start 9.30 at Moulton Co-op. Please let me know if any questions, and remember to  register at Signup Genius

Hope to see you there. 


Ride report, Saturday 21st May

Chris Holt led this ride and writes:

Moulton had the bunting out for the 14 who gathered at the start, with Brian, leading the moderates, informing us of the presence of both coffee and a beer tent.  Eight started with the brisk, though two dropped back to the moderates, probably because they knew about the café stop. 

The route took us north over roads that varied in quality, but overall, fairly quiet, traffic wise.   We passed two riders waiting to join the moderates at Old, though I don’t think they had long to wait.   From Loddington, we headed through Rothwell towards Pipewell, and past what turns out to be the smallest church in Northamptonshire.  Apparently, it was also at Pipewell that the moderates, having made quicker time than expected, considered extending the ride to follow the route taken by the brisks until Graham mentioned the Ashley Alps. 

Whilst there were a few stiff climbs on the route, I think it would be safe to call them cheeky rather than vindictive. The A427 contributed a short stretch, fortunately slightly down hill, before we turned off to Middleton.  Dropping into the Welland valley, the relatively flat road started to climb upwards towards Ashley, and then climb even higher as we headed towards Wilbarston and the Milking Parlour Café, where we discovered the moderates already gazing in awe as the rolls, cakes, coffees and teas they were being served with. I now understand why Otavio and Geoff swapped to the moderates. The staff at the café were exceptionally accommodating, bringing additional tables and chairs out into the courtyard for us to enjoy more time in the sun. 

Fortunately, the route immediately after the café was downhill as we headed south.  Skirting Desborough we headed along a short stretch of lightly graveled trail, before tackling Harrington Hill after which we were rewarded by great views over the valley.  I think the pace quickened as we headed back to Moulton where the village festival was in full swing. 

Overall, a lovely route treating us to stone cottages, fields, red kites, and weather that was just right, even the occasional headwind was not a trouble.

Ride to Wilbarston, Saturday 21st May

BrianT is leading this ride and writes:

Start time:9.30am
Meeting point: Moulton Co-op, Stocks Hill, Moulton, NN3 7TB
Distance: Brisk 43 miles Moderate 37 miles
Refreshment Stop: The Milking Parlour Café at Wilbarston
Pace: Brisk 14+ mph average : Moderate 12+ mph average

This new route to Willbarston cafe takes the Brisks up to the river Welland and then returns via the cafe stop. The ride out is via Old, Loddington, Pipewell, East Carlton CP, Middleton, along the river valley to Ashley and south to the coffee stop at The Milking Parlour Cafe at Wilbarston (seating and bike parking in the courtyard ). The mods will cut short before East Carlton, direct to the cafe.


We return, skirting Desborough to Harrington Hill, Walgrave and then Moulton, by about 1pm.

As you can see from the RWGPS profile this is a moderately lumpy ride.

More details from Brian on 07722 055149

You are welcome to sign up on  CTC Northampton: Group rides (signupgenius.com)
This will help planning.

Brisk route https://ridewithgps.com/routes/39356107

Moderate route https://ridewithgps.com/routes/39356140

Ride report, Sunday 15th May

PhilL led this ride and writes:

Well we escaped!

What, from Northampton, Westminster, congestion? I hear you ask. No from the rain despite the forecast that we were to endure a morning’s rain. But the five of us who set off for the off-road ride to Cosgrove this morning stayed dry and had an enjoyable ride mostly without crossing paths with impatient motorists.
We did however cross paths once or twice with Phil Gray’s Hope group plus Miriam, Ann et al which was good to see, once at the start then again at Long Street. The group seemed well supported so chapeau Monsieur Gray.

As we approached Cosgrove Park there was a lot of gunfire from the range over the hedge- understandably we assumed it was local police deterring cyclists from riding the central lane of local motorways…..
Once in Cosgrove Park we soon raised our cycling to the level of the aqueduct mostly by shouldering the bikes and climbing some pretty steep stairs – it was pretty clear at that point who amongst us were cycle-cross riders – (not me for sure heaving an electric bike up there!)
And so to the Barley Mow pub for coffee – at which point my status as ride leader took a beating as the manager informed the group that if we’d been a tad earlier they were doing bacon sarnies and full English as part of a promotion – 9am-10.30 on a Sunday. Just what off-roaders like – sorry boys poor preparation on my part.

Much of the route back was along the canal bank with pretty rutted and corrugated surfaces switching sides every now and then. And nobody did a ‘Weller’ and took a swim in the canal- bit of a relief given that it was me that caused John to fall in all those years ago!
Once at Stoke Bruerne we started to go our separate ways, some to continue along the canal path back to town and the rest via Ashton, Hartwell etc.

Thanks for the company folks-good ride.

ps. Have ordered the bacon sandwiches for next time but it means meeting and leaving at the crack of dawn….

Off-road steady ride, Sunday 15th May

Phil Letts is leading this ride and writes:

Start time: 9.30am
Meeting point: Nene Whitewater Centre, Bedford Road, NN4 7AA
Distance: 37 miles
Café stop: Barley Mow public house, Cosgrove
Average pace: Steady-12mph
Time expected back: 2pm

This mostly off-road ride uses a variety of surfaces ranging from gravel track, grass canal side and tarmac so a MTB or gravel bike is required not a road bike.

This route utilises a fair bit of NCN 6 and after leaving CC we pick it up through Brackmills and Great Houghton pealing off left onto the B526 to Piddington. Once through Salcey via the bridleway we make our way to Long Street, Hanslope and Castlethorpe again on NCN6. We take the gravel track into Cosgrove Leisure Park, up onto the Grand Union Canal aqueduct making our way to the coffee stop-Barley Mow pub, Cosgrove at 18 miles.

From the coffee stop there we follow the canal path all the way to Stoke Bruerne finally leaving the canal path for Ashton and Hartwell. We again pick up NCN 5 from Quinton and Preston Deanery and the gravel track through Brackmills back to base.

Here is the RideWithGPS route: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/39286487

Can book up via SignUp Genius or I’m on 07867388592


Phil Letts

Ride Report, Saturday 7th May

Milton led the brisk ride and writes:

The Buttery at The Half Moon in Grendon did deliver the expected excellent service and proved worth the trip. Definitely a stop for the future.

Ten of us set off from the Canoe Centre on a Brisk/Moderate ride in warm and calm weather. At Quinton the Brisks were joined by Tim in his first CTC ride for a long while  –  a short celebration here!  –  and so it was five Brisks and six Moderates who sped off to Salcey, Hartwell and Hanslope before the divide. Brian led the Moderates, (thanks Brian  –  again!)  to the café via Yardley Hastings improving on my route in a manner that I never did understand, but which was obviously a success, and the Brisks headed off through Castlethorpe, Haversham and Little Linford before skirting Olney and heading directly to Grendon. Both groups arrived at much the same time which was due, either to my careful, indeed meticulous, planning …  or luck! 

Only eight miles back home saw us return in time for lunch, which is never bad.

Ride to Grendon, Saturday 7th May

Milton is Leading this ride and writes:

Start: Nene Whitewater Centre, Bedford Road, NN4 7AA
Time: 9.30am
Cafe Stop: The Buttery at “The Half Moon” Grendon
Distance: Brisk 38 miles, Moderate 32 miles
Pace: Brisk 14mph+ , Moderate 12/13 mph
Expected back: Between 1 & 2pm

The Buttery Cafe, from Castle Ashby, has been moved on and is now very well sited in The Half Moon pub in Grendon. They’ve taken over half the building and have turned it into a lovely cafe …. we have always liked them for their coffee top-up, which continues!

To get there for that freebie, we all plod up the hill through Great Houghton and take the Quinton road to Salcey. We turn right and cross the M1 to Hartwell and Hanslope. At this point the “moderates” turn to Gayhurst and take the Asprey road to pass Olney on the left; then Yardley Hastings and Grendon at 24 miles.

From Hanslope the “brisks” carry on to Castlethorpe and Haversham before turning up to Little Linford, Gayhurst and then it’s the same route to Grendon, apart from a slight variation through Ravenstone! It’s 30 miles to the cafe … so perhaps take some nutrition for the ride.
A short 8 miles home follows.

Hope to see you there.

Brisk https://ridewithgps.com/routes/39158850
Moderate https://ridewithgps.com/routes/39158814

(It’s always helpful for us to pre-book on Signup: Group rides)

Ride report, Sunday 1st May

PhilJ led this ride and writes:

It’s not often we have a 100k ride on our schedule but this turned into one today. The odd U turn or two added a few extra miles onto the original distance getting us over the magic number.

Mark Faulkner returned after four years away and brought along friend Scott Dukes for the ride to Kineton.

Most of the ride out was in earlier than expected drizzle but it didn’t dampen the spirits of the nine out today. It was pretty familiar roads too, until we arrived in Fenny Compton and Avon Dassett over the Warwickshire border some time into the ride. Avon had a bit of a hill here and there, the first real challenges of the ride out and not far from the destination.  Arlescote was picturesque and cut through the bottom of a hill perfectly for us. Kineton appeared soon after with the Gilks Garage Café on the same road.

Cycle parking was excellent on the large purpose built cycle rack. The host having been a keen road cyclist himself. The food and service were excellent too. The extensive menu giving us quite a choice of fuel for the way home. Pancakes, breakfast baps, burgers, soup etc. We tucked in.

Leaving the café, a surprising route through a housing estate before we exited on the other side. Further on, further confusion about the route. Several navigators each proposing their own solution to get back on track. Reluctant to retrace our steps we continued onwards making a detour through the village of Knightcote Bottoms. Fenny Compton signs appeared again and we were back on route. Until Priors Marston that was where another U turn was required. We were soon grinding up the unavoidable climb overlooking Hill Farm at the top.

Pressing on, Preston Capes was up next. Well down first then back up as PeteB’s route dropped us into the depths of the village before asking us to climb out on a leg shredding hill. Chapeau to everyone for getting to the summit, quite visible and intimidating from a way off. Great views just about made up for it as we cruised along towards Stowe and the A5. Banbury lane provided the last of the elevated roads as it had done on the way out.

Great riding from everyone today, particularly on a tough ride back.