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Milton led this ride and writes:
It was at the café in White Mills Marina that we became a round dozen when we were joined by Elspeth who had cycled from home to join us and to show off her ever improving knee. She did take her husband away afterwards, reducing our number to 10, but it was worth that tiny loss to see her looking so fit!
John W was soon to leave us too. We started the second half of our journey by cycling just too close to his home, and he was unable to resist the siren call of its many small comforts.
So, to the start … 11 of us, including very welcome newbie Chris, (another Scotsman I’m afraid – what can you do, they’re everywhere) set off on Sunday morning on an overcast and coolish day for our recently revised trip, (the BikeBus being shut for the day) looping south through Salcey forest and skirting the western fringes of Olney to reach the new café at White Mills Marina in Earls Barton. After the stop there was a second loop, this time north of the Nene, which took in Mears Ashby, Orlingbury and Hannington before touching Mears Ashby again and returning to the start point at the Canoe Centre via Ecton.
It never did get too cold and was in fact a lovely day to be out on the bike. 54 miles passed quickly in excellent company and the new (to us) café proved to be likeable in every way – efficient, fairly cheap and big enough to absorb 12 of us and then another 14 cyclists from Northampton Social Cycling group who arrived just after we had been served. The staff had thanked me earlier for e-mailing our pending arrival. In fact it was the aptly named social cyclists who had the grace to pre-warn the café not us. Still, I didn’t let the café know that, so points to us!
Thanks to Giles for taking this photo on James’s ride to Barby.
James Holden led this ride and writes:
Four gentlemen departed Brampton Valley Way on Saturday’s brisk ride out to The Willows Café in Barby. Going by the colour of the sky – a shade of bruised grey – and the forecast for an all day downpour, it seemed as though cycling gods had forsaken us on this particular occasion. However, as it turned out, our trepidation was unfounded: the rain held off, the temperature remained pleasantly mild and the sun even attempted to make a few (weak) appearances.
Our outward route passed through familiar territory: Harlestone, Althorp, Wilton, etc., and whilst there were a few ‘upward’ bits there was nothing especially troublesome to either legs or lungs. The range of cakes and savouries on offer at The Willows was up to the usual high standard with the paninis, in particular, proving popular. The only blight being Giles’s disappointment that the cafe no longer had its little bicycle windmills on display.
In contrast to our outward journey, the return leg was – at least initially – on roads relatively unknown to us, traversing the county boundary into Warwickshire and places such as Hillmorton and Clifton-upon-Dunsmore. As well as being unfamiliar, this part of the route was also pleasantly flat, with some stretches looking ideal for a spot of time-trialling. Alas, the lack of elevation became a distant memory as we crossed back into the county and headed homewards via Yelvertoft, Guilsborough, Teeton and Spratton Hill… The final stretch back to Brampton was – due to a routing error by yours truly – along the main Welford Road, which, whilst busy, wasn’t too hair-raising an experience.
Thanks to Giles, Peter and Phil J for coming along and ensuring this didn’t turn into a Cycling UK solo ride!
Milton is leading this ride and writes:
Depart from: Canoe Centre
Time 9.30 AM
Type of Ride Steady (12/13mph)
Coffee stop White Mills Marina Earls Barton
Distance 57 Miles
Return time Mid afternoon (3pm [ish])
There’s a change to Sunday’s ride. The BikeBus is not going to be open on the 15th so I have devised another route for us which takes us to a new café on the Nene by Earls Barton. It’s not too expensive for either café and cake or more substantial lunch/brunch affairs. As you can see, the route is 57 miles, which is long for one of my rides, but if we are getting too wet, or bored, there are multiple opportunities for cutting it short whether to the cafe and/or to the finish. But, as the sun will be shining and the breeze light, and the day long, which of us won’t want to spend time on the bike?
Setting off from the Canoe centre we take the road up through Great Houghton to Quinton and then through Salcey forest to Hartwell from where we head to Hanslope, and Castlethorpe and then cut back to Gayhurst before heading to Olney via Weston Underwood. We skirt the western fringes of Olney and head towards Yardley Hastings, and from there to Grendon and, on the road towards Earls Barton but still south of the Nene, we find the cafe at about 32 miles into the ride.
After our break we double back to Grendon and set off towards Wollaston before heading north across the river to Wilby. From there it’s Mears Ashby, Little Harrowden and Orlingbury until we cross the A43 to Hannington and then Holcot. Now, on the home straight, we go to Sywell and skirt Mears Ashby again before we head down through the village of Ecton, cross the Nene, and reach the Canoe Centre via Little Houghton.
It should be a lovely day on the bike which, if we leave exactly on time and maintain a steady 19 mph will get us home for an early lunch. As we have no intention of doing any of these things, I hope we will be back by about mid afternoon having had a pleasant, relaxing, sociable trip rolling along at about 12mph.
GPX file of the route attached.
James Holden is leading this ride and writes:
Start time 9.30 a.m.
Meeting point : Brampton Valley Way, Welford Crossing, NN6 8AA
Distance : Brisk 38 miles & Moderate 31 miles
Refreshment stop : The Willows Cafe* at Barby Nurseries
Pace: Brisk about 14-16mph & Moderate about 12mph
This Saturday’s brisk ride is a suitably brief(ish) affair – coming in at around 38 miles. Leaving from Brampton Valley Way, we’ll climb across the Althorp estate and wind our way on towards Whilton Lock, famous for both its marina and carpet store. Once across the A5 we’ll forgo the joys of Norton and keep it rural as we head up Station Road. After a few more undulating miles across some rather exposed landscape, we’ll stop for coffee at The Willows Cafe* (located at Barby Nurseries – 17 miles). Sadly, given our ride is on a Saturday, we’ll be unable to take up the temptations of their renowned ‘Fish Friday’ offer, but the range and quality of dishes available should still be enough to quench the most demanding of appetites.
Suitably refreshed – and with bedding plants safely stored in our panniers – we’ll wind our way back homewards via Hillmorton, Clifton Dunsmore (more commonly referred to as Clive Dunn by the locals),Yelvertoft, West Haddon, Guilsborough and Holdenby, A shorter option (totalling 31 miles) is also on offer, which follows the same route out but returns home in a more direct fashion through Watford, Long Buckby, East Haddon, etc.
Neither ride is particularly demanding and there are ample points along the route(s) where people can stop for a breather/refreshments should they feel the need to do so. All are welcome (though few are chosen).
See you Saturday – 9.30 sharp.
*The cafe stop listed in the Rides Calendar – The Skylark Cafe – no longer opens on a Saturday.
Milton led this ride and writes: