This Saturday’s ride features a place that doesn’t (fully) exist yet, an attractive new coffee stop, and unusually, two largely separate routes to get there.
We are riding to Houlton, a new ‘village’ or urban extension between Rugby and DIRFT, the “Daventry” International Rail Freight Terminal (which isn’t especially near Daventry).
Starting at the Brampton Valley Way (where we can witness the impact of the works for the Northern “Relief” Road), the Brisk group goes out via East Haddon, Long Buckby, Yelvertoft, Lilbourne and Clifton upon Dunsmore. The Moderates take a more southerly route via Norton, Welton and Barby.
All being well we will meet at the Tuning Fork in Houlton, where there is ample outdoor seating, in view of the bikes (though a café lock does no harm). Please note: if you want to eat something hot, please look at the menu and let me know so I can give them advance warning, as everything is prepared freshly on the premises.
Maybe we will also find out why it’s called the Tuning Fork!
Both groups will go back the same way initially through Barby, diverging after Welton, with the Brisks tackling Mount Long Buckby from a different side .
Start time: 9:30am Meeting point: Brampton Valley Way, Welford Crossing, NN6 8AA Distance: 37 mls Refreshment Stop: Forest Café, Salcey Forest Average Pace: 12mph Time Expected Back: Around 1.30pm
This is a mostly off-road ride on a mixture of country park trails, cycle paths and canal side tracks with some ordinary tarmac sections linking the various parks. So an MTB or Gravel bike is required.
From BVW we head up to the turn off onto Merry-Tom lane which leads us to the bridleway across Brampton golf course and Harlestone Firs.
From there we head towards Duston and Upton Park and ride a short section of canal path before heading off into Hunsbury Hill park.
Our next objective is Foxfield Park off the Quinton Road and Salcey Forest for the coffee stop.
We then traverse Salcey Forest to Piddington, and the NCN 6 to Great Houghton. Still on NCN 6 we branch off through to Brackmills and head along the Nene riverside to Northampton UNI.
Then it’s Grand Union canal side riding through to Sixfields, back onto the cycle track to Kingsthorpe and the last section on BVW to our start point.
Start time: 9:30am Meeting point: Hunsbury Hill library, Overslade Close, East Hunsbury NN4 0RZ Distance: Brisk 37 mls, Moderate 30 mls Refreshment Stop: Salcey Forest Café at 31 / 24 mls Average Pace: Around 14 to 15mph for the Brisk, or 11 to 13mph for the Moderate, depending on riders Time Expected Back: Around 12.30pm
Saturday’s ride is to Castlethorpe, or to be more precise, both rides pass through Castlethorpe as part of a triple looping sort of route. Our cafe stop will be at Salcey Forest Cafe towards the end of the ride, which will allow us to struggle home a short distance full of cake and coffee afterwards.
We will meet near the Library in East Hunsbury at the usual time of 9.30am.
The ride will take us South East of Northampton this week, in a looping route that is not too hilly, and takes in Hackleton, Ashton, Handslope and Castlethorpe. The routes are similar for both Moderate and Brisk, but one of the loops is a bit bigger for the Brisk group.
Apologies that I’m quite late sending this out, but as usual it is very helpful for our planning to follow this link to book a place on Signup: Group rides
Saturday evening and I received a text from Gary with the information that the Bikebus café was closed this weekend. Fortunately this was followed by an email from Elspeth saying the ‘Fill your cup’ café two miles on in Cranfield was open, so no major change of plans.
With the sun just about out and temperatures very comfortable, we had four riders, Peter, Phil, Brian and Gary raring to go at CC. We had a tail wind most of the way out and with just a small group we cracked on at a reasonable pace on relatively quiet roads especially beyond Turvey. The road surface was challenging at times though, with broken tarmac.
As usual the number of cyclist increased as we got nearer the Bikebus but nobody said it was closed. It was not far after Bourne End, home of the Bikebus, that we arrived at Cranfield and cycled down the High Street. Not a particular hive of activity on a Sunday morning but we soon found the café, occupied mainly by other cyclists. Just as we were parking our bikes in the garden we met Tim and Elspeth who had just arrived by a slightly different route. Now up to six, we enjoyed the coffee and a good variety of cakes and paninis at the Fill your cup. After a good 50min stop we put Tim in the lead (well it was now a head wind) and came back through North Crawley across the A422 at Chicheley and on to Sherington. Instead of going down to Olney as planned we changed the route and went back through Tyringham, Hanslope and on to Salcey Forest mainly because most people lived that side of town. The route out and back was almost the same at 26 miles and interestingly so was the average speed, close to 15mph.
Gary was on his ‘fully kitted up’ mountain bike, testing everything out for his ride to do the CyclingUK off-road route the West Kernow Way – a 230km circular bike-packing route in Cornwall. Hope the weather holds for the next few weeks.
Thanks to all for a very sociable ride. Lovely day to be out.
Start: Nene Whitewater Centre, Bedford Road, NN4 7AA Start time: 9.30am Distance: 46 miles but not too hilly. Nominally a steady pace ride 13mph, but likely to be a brisk group as well on the road, depending on numbers. Refreshment Stop: Bike Bus Café, Bourne End near Cranfield. (great coffee and cakes and plenty of cyclists)
Out via Grendon, Bozeat , Carlton, Newton Blossomville, and south to Bourne End and the café in the Red London Bus. Return via North Crawley, Sherringham, Olney (bike path) , Yardley Hastings and Castle Ashby to CC. Back by about 2pm.
Hope to see you there. More details from Brian on 07722 055149
Please do not park in the canoe centre. The barrier may close at any time. Plenty of space in the road leading to the centre.
Four riders set off from Northampton – Brian T (who devised most of the route), Ken, Philip G and myself, sharing two cars to Pear Tree park & ride in Oxford, for a loop in the pleasant Oxfordshire countryside, and to watch the final stage of the Womens’ Tour.
We set off early from East Hunsbury at 7.40am, but even at that time the traffic was starting to build up locally due to the M1 Motorway being closed. Thankfully, we arrived at the car park on time, although some of us then spent time trying to find a toilet, before getting the bikes ready and setting off.
Having negotiated the cycle paths out of Oxford, we followed an impressive fellow rider for a couple of miles, who had a carbon fibre prosthetic leg and one hand missing. Respect!
The traffic at Woodstock was not pleasant (but significantly better than that I encountered mid-week on the recci), but after that we were treated to mostly quiet roads through the wonderful Oxfordshire countryside.
We arrived at our coffee stop, the Old Shed, at the planned time to find John W already there, on his second coffee, having made the journey by train. We sat and chatted in the warm sunshine, enjoying healthy food such as pasties and sausage sandwiches.
The café was chosen because the Women’s Tour went past it, and the plan was to set off half an hour before the riders came past, and spectate at Charlbury, five minutes away. However, immediately having come out of the café, the first Police motorbikes came past stopping traffic. No problem though, we just settled on the grassy verge with a few others and watched the riders from there.
Having arrived in Oxford in good time for our next session, we rode to the finish area to orientate ourselves, then circled around looking for a suitable cafe to wait. Of course, with all the crowds, this was not so easy, and it was left to Philip to locate a perfect coffee establishment, which he did, tucked away in a small secluded and sunny courtyard.
After that it was an easy stroll to find a suitable vantage point and cheer the riders on, followed by watching the awards, although it has to be said that Ken abandoned us for a while to stand with his mates.
The route back to Pear Tree was along a well paved canal tow path, and finally a couple of road crossings.
All said, it was a great day out with wonderful company and warm sunshine. What more could we wish for ?
Date: Sat 11th June Start: Pear Tree Park & Ride, Oxford, OX2 8JF Time: 8.30am at Oxford (see below to follow in car from Sixfields at 7.40am) Distance: 46 Miles Pace: Steady – Around 13mph Average Café Stop: The Old Shed, Charlbury, at 26 miles Estimated return: Around 17.15 pm at Northampton
This Saturday we plan to start the ride from Pear Tree Park & Ride, on the outskirts of Oxford, following a circular route around the pleasant countryside to the North of Oxford. We will be able to see the Womens’ Tour riders fly past us at lunch time in Charlbury, and get to Oxford in time to see the finish, possibly as early as 2.35pm.
We plan to meet at the Pear Tree Park & Ride at 8.30am. This will give us 15 minutes to sort a ticket and get the bikes ready to start at 8.45am.
I will leave Sixfields (TGI Friday’s, Sixfields, Northampton, NN5 4EG) at 7.40am, if anyone wants to follow and go in convoy. Please drop me an e-mail or add a comment to Sign-Up if you want to follow me.
The first five miles, up to Woodstock, are on good cycle lanes – not perfectly smooth, but as good as some of the roads later in the ride. Woodstock is not particularly cycle friendly though and is very busy, but once past, the roads become quiet and pleasant. A couple of points of note, however; the condition of some of the roads is surprisingly bad, and there are a couple of short, sharp hills, but because they are short, they don’t feel anywhere near as bad as my Garmin suggested they were.
We pass through Enstone at 19 miles. This is close to our cafe stop for any riders who want to take a short cut, but the route adds a worthwhile loop to get to our cafe stop, The Old Shed at Chalbury, at 26 miles. This is part of a farm with a caravan and camping complex, but don’t let that put you off, the cafe is a nice place to rest, with a good selection of food.
The Tour route also passes through Enstone and actually follows the fast straight road passing near to the Cafe. But we should have time to get to Charlbury for a better position to spectate, a couple of miles from the cafe, and where they will have to negotiate some corners.
Obviously, being Oxford, the roads will start to get busy again as we get closer, although once we get into the outskirts, there are good cycle lanes. We plan to get into Oxford centre at least 30 minutes before the first possible rider can pass the finish line at 2.35pm, but I expect it will be busy.
Don’t forget to bring a bike lock.
The route back to the car park is very good – there is an excellent path along the canal, almost back to Pear Tree.
MK CTC (CyclingUK) have traditionally organised a breakfast ride to Salcey Forest during the National Bike Week.
As usual CTC-Northampton have been invited to join them but this year there are changes to the usual time and day of the week. (MK will meet up at Wolverton Rail Station at 9.45 to ride directly to Salcey Forest)
Northampton group have no planned ride there, but we have been invited to join them
this Tuesday (7 June) at Salcey Forest café from about 10.15am.
I am sure a number of us will take the opportunity to meet up with MK and catch up with their news.
No breakfasts planned but plenty of coffee and cake.
Seventy years in the making, our royal platinum jubilee ride went ahead in less-than-ideal conditions. Forecasts of weather warnings did not put off any of the signed-up riders on this once in a lifetime jubilee celebration ride to Royal Leamington Spa.
It’s a straightforward journey out and all was going well as we approached the summit at Priors Marston ready for the drop. The route took us on the less than obvious and quite tricky descent off the approaching road. A deluge of water and gravel made for some ‘heart in mouth’ descending as we plunged down to the base through twists and turns with all brakes engaged all the way down.
Emerging out of the dark we seemed to have lost one third of the group during the descent. Half a dozen of us waited for the other three to show but they didn’t appear as expected. It then transpired that Hartley had gone on ahead under his own steam and JohnW was likely to have done his own thing having been seen going down the alternative descent at the top. Dennis however was nowhere to be seen and we had some concerns about his whereabouts. PhilB went back up the climb whilst I scoured the lower level. Calls to his two mobiles went unanswered when we managed to get any signal. Assuming Dennis was with John we pressed on towards our destination in the hope that Dennis would reappear some time later.
A couple of climbs kept things interesting through Napton and Snowford before we approached the HS2 construction site some miles outside Leamington. It was kind to us again only allowing cyclists to pass and provided a near complete cycle path for us to use as well.
Passing through Radford Semele I noticed that the defunct White Lion pub that we had used in the past until its demise several years ago now looked like it had been refurbished and ready to open again. It could hopefully be back on as a ride destination sometime soon.
Traffic increased towards the centre of Leamington Spa, but we were soon outside the Café Royal with on street parking for cyclists all to ourselves. At 11:30 we took our seats on our reserved tables as queues were still forming out of the door of this popular venue.
Service was swift and the food was great. Full English and big breakfasts were brought without haste to our tables. John preferred Weatherspoon’s nearby and dined alone there.
At this point I managed to contact Dennis who informed me that he was heading back after arriving in Leamington but unable to find the café among the others on the street. He explained that he was fine and happy to be on target for seventy miles anyway.
Our journey continued on unfamiliar roads for many of our group. Harbury, Bishops Itchington and Fenny Compton. By now the constant drizzle from the ride out had gone and roads were drying up. In Byfield we missed a photo opportunity at Jubilee Close as we passed by. Near Blakesley with ten miles to go a brisk/moderate split was agreed but we all made it home in our own time having completed a right royal ride.
Thanks to everyone who came out today on a memorable ride.
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.