Ride Report – Sunday 5th February

Milton went on this ride led by Tim and writes:

Seven of us braved a fairly dark and chilly morning to meet up at East Hunsbury for Tim’s 52-mile steady ride around Northampton.

The half-way point saw us getting stuck into cake and coffee and sausage rolls (possibly in that order) at the cafe in Brixworth Country Park having swept round the south and west of the county through Kislingbury, East Haddon and Spratton climbing what felt like most of the Northants cols on route.before Brixworth.

The second stage included Holcot and Earls Barton before crossing the river and climbing up the day’s last mountain to the peak at Castle Ashby where we stopped for more coffee and cake.  We had dropped Phil L off by this stage but picked up another, Elspeth, at the Castle so we were still seven and then we lost Geoff who was nearer home than he would be at any other time and so we were six.

We six nipped back towards East Hunsbury via Denton and Preston Deanery at which point three more of us set off homewards and the remaining three – well, who knows – I was safely tucked up at home with coffee and a well deserved couple of slices of cake.
I heard later that the final three made it back to the start point safely, so a good day out was had by all.  A well devised route with thanks to Tim!

Ride Report – Saturday 9th January

Brian writes:

At 9.00 a.m. the prospects of a morning ride were a bit grim.  Phil J was down with a cold so had asked me to lead the ride.  The previous week I had been in the same situation and Phil L had stepped in to lead what had been a pretty wet ride.  Was this to be my chance to enjoy the rain?

It was bucketing down so I decided on the easy option – to put the bike in the car and drive to this morning’s meeting point East Hunsbury given the chance that nobody would venture out in this rain.  By 9.25 a.m. it was still raining and no sight of any riders.  By 9.30 a.m. I thought that was it but decided to go and have a quick look in case anybody was sheltering in the underpass.  At this point James turned up having having cycled over in the rain!  We had a quick discussion.  The rain stopped at that point, so we decided to go!

Luckily the rain had stopped for good that morning.  But ten minutes into the ride I had a p*nct*re.  A change of tube and we were off again on a busy road to Wootton and then on to quieter roads to Quinton and over to Cogenhoe and Whiston.  We decided against a coffee stop at Castle Ashby and headed for Denton.  When we reversed the road to Quinton in the late morning, blue sky appeared and we decided to extend the ride to Courteenhall and on to Blisworth.  From here we had warm sun on our backs and a tail wind all the way back to East Hunsbury.

The forecast had been for rain at 9.00 a.m. followed by a clear spell later in the morning.  This turned out to be correct but it was cutting it a bit fine to get a ride in, free of rain and with comfortable temperatures!

CTC Northampton in 1923

David, one of our committee members, has been researching the history of Northampton’s cycling clubs.  Here he republishes a 1923 article about the Cyclists’ Touring Club Northamptonshire District Association.  It comes from the Northampton Independent, a weekly newspaper which ran from 1905 to 1960.  It It was written by Mr B Clowes who was based at 5 Castilian Street.  The editor described him as “the assiduous Hon Secretary” of the association.

The Cyclists’ Touring Club popularly known as the C.T.C. was formed as far back as 1878, and in those early days of cycling laid the foundation of those rights and privileges which cyclists enjoy to-day.

Amongst the objects of the Club are the defence of cyclists’ rights, provision of special touring facilities, promotion of legislation for cyclists, publication of road books and maps, scheduling of hotels and refreshment houses (with tariffs), appointment of official repairers, insurance of machines and riders, and the supply of cycling information.

The Club has a paid secretary and office staff located in Euston Road, London. Here there is a reference library and touring bureau, from which members who apply are supplied with routes and the latest information regarding the district in which they propose to tour.  The Club has in various parts of the country local representatives, or consuls, as they are called, who are always ready to assist and advise all cycling and touring members generally.  So far as continental travel is concerned, the Club has reciprocal arrangements with the Continental Touring Clubs.

Amongst other things the Club gives legal assistance to cyclists, issues a very fine illustrated monthly gazette (worth the subscription alone) and publishes an annual handbook.

For fostering local interest amongst members there are a large number of district associations which are in themselves complete social cycling clubs.  The Northants District Association is one of the youngest and is now forging ahead.  It is managed by a local committee, who are at all times willing to give careful consideration to matters appertaining to cycling brought to their notice by members.  Club runs are arranged for Thursdays, Saturdays, and at holiday times tours are arranged.  During the time the Association has been in being, runs have been held to many places of interest in this and neighbouring counties, and many pleasant hours have been spent at joint runs with other Associations. Ladies are eligible for membership, and we have several regular lady riders. We have no hard and fast rules, the runs being “free and easy”, and there is an air of sociability and good fellowship throughout.

There are those who say cycling is hard work, but these are the people, one imagines, who never tried anything but a “dreadnought” and perhaps even then never gave their bicycle a chance to make the acquaintance of an oil can.  With a light machine, kept in proper trim and a reasonably low gear, one can comfortably cover a century a day.  We have met on some of our joint runs members who were doing considerably more.  We are an all-the-year round cycling club.  The bicycle has enabled us to get about this delightful county of ours (which as not so flat as some people think) in all seasons. We have revelled in her Summer and Autumn glory, and we have enjoyed the sombre beauty of her Winter.  We have found one hundred and one beauty spots in this and neighbouring counties, and have drank of their beauty to the full.  We have enjoyed the expansive views of the Cotswolds.  We have meandered along the pretty lanes in the Thame Valley.  We have seen the gorgeous scenery of the Wye, and some of us have ridden to the majestic scenery of North Wales.  We have a host of delightful memories of this country of ours.  All these pleasures and many more are open to the cyclist, and to belong to an organisation such as ours means congenial companionship in addition.  There are numerous beauty spots in and around the outskirts of the town with which a large number of cyclists and other lovers of the open road are totally unfamiliar.

Here, for instance, is an exceptionally enjoyable run quite near at hand of which many of our cycling readers will doubtless avail themselves. Leaving Northampton by the Houghton Road we cross the river at the Paper Mills – where bank note paper was formerly manufactured – and soon pass Great Houghton with its church built in an Italian style.  Proceeding uphill we reach Little Houghton: near the church are the moat and foundations of an ancient mansion of the Louches.  A pleasant run takes us to Brafield-on-the Green, and then to Denton, where there is a tortuous twist round the church.  We now enter the picturesque country of Yardley Chase, the old forest which bounds the county to the southeast.  The village of Yardley Hastings takes its name from the de Hastings, lords of the village in the 13th and 14th centuries.  Edward Lye, the famous scholar, is buried in the Church of St. Andrew, which derived its dedication probably through the connection of the manor with the Royal line of Scotland.  Two miles further on, at Warrington cross roads, we turn to the left and proceed to Bozeat, and from there to the pretty village of Easton Maudit.  The church with its graceful spire should be visited.  Restored by the Marquis of
Northampton in 1860, it contains a number of inscriptions to ancient families.  At Easton Maudit dwelt Thomas Percy, author of the “Relique”, who entertained many famous literary men at the vicarage, including Goldsmith and Johnson.  Dr Johnson spent several weeks here. We now go to Grendon to explore the beauties of Castle Ashby park and village; then return to Northampton through Cogenhoe.

Around picturesque Castle Ashby

Around picturesque Castle Ashby

Another good journey for the cyclist and a pleasant spin for the motorist is to be enjoyed in the Mears Ashby and Earls Barton districts shown on the map.  Leaving by the Billing Road, we pass on the left Abington Rectory, where Sir Douglas Haig used to visit as a boy when his uncle was rector, and soon reach Little Billing.  Here are picturesque cottages, a church with a Saxon front, and the remains of a 14th century Manor House. Billing Bridge – said to have been the scene of a fight in the Civil Wars – is crossed, and a climb takes us to Cogenhoe.  The origin of this name is Gucken, to spy and hoe a hill.  Further on Whiston, a very pretty village, is worth visiting.  At Castle Ashby gates turn to the left and cross the railway line and river. Earls Barton tower is the next landmark.  The “most characteristic piece of Saxon work in the land,” it is 1000 years old.  Cross the Wellingborough Road and proceed through pretty lanes to Mears and Sywell.  In Sywell Woods, Captain Thompson, a Leveller mutineer who broke open Northampton Gaol in 1649 and robbed the public coffers, was rounded up and, after a bitter resistance, killed.  We pass through Overstone and return on Kettering Road.  It is said that from a hill between Overstone and Great Billing forty-five churches can be seen.  The panorama is certainly superb.  Those who desire a pretty walk should take the bus to Ecton, walk across the fields to Cogenhoe, and return by train from Billing station.

Around Mears Ashby and Earls Barton

Around Mears Ashby and Earls Barton

Ride report – The Turkey Buster, Saturday 27th December

Phil J went on this ride led by Milton, our Secretary, and writes:

Five hardy riders including Northampton visitor Ken and ‘rarely to be seen’ Mike H set off on this post festive ride from the Canoe Centre surprised that it hadn’t been snowed off considering the forecast.  After a couple of miles we all began to regret the extra helpings of Christmas pudding and Quality Street as we climbed the first hill at Great Houghton.

Once up, it seemed like a wonderful autumn day rather than a winter’s ride as the sun was shining against lovely blue skies and helping to keep us warm.

We blazed down to Hackleton at a pace and, heading towards Denton, it seemed like Milton had arranged for closed roads as we barely saw any motorised transport.  Large puddles of surface water were the main obstacles on the roads but nobody came unstuck.

A winter breeze accompanied us from then on and the skies turned grey as we headed towards Castle Ashby where we enjoyed the view of the great building as we passed by.

Hardwater Hill proved to be another gem in Milton’s route as it tested all riders right to the top.

We pressed on at a steady pace eventually arriving at the Beckworth Emporium in Sywell for a well-earned rest. As befits the location some of the group opted for Earl Grey and scones!

Once on our way again, Eleanor said goodbye leaving the four guys to continue the journey.  As the A45 came into view we realised we were on the best form of transport as there was total gridlock all around.  On the cycle paths alongside we spilt up and headed our own way home leaving just the writer to continue back to the Canoe Centre.

Thanks for the ride Milton!  Well done all!

Afternoon ride around Northamptonshire parish churches – Saturday 21st July

Our Chair, Philip Gray, leads this ride and writes:

This Saturday afternoon, CTC Northampton invites you to join a short cycle tour of some Parish churches to the south-east of Northampton, the second in our Summer of Cycling Leisure Series rides.

Depending on time and access, we will visit two or three of the following churches. Whiston is said to be one of the most interesting churches in Northamptonshire, little changed since 1534 and still without electric light. In Denton there are murals by celebrated Northampton artist Henry Bird. Preston Deanery is a small, very old church now cared for by the Historic Churches Conservation Trust. And finally Great Houghton is unusual in this county in having a Baroque exterior.

After our tour of spiritual places we will enjoy some temporal relaxation at the Britannia pub.

So, if you can bear not to watch Brad Wiggins in the final Tour de France time trial, please come out and enjoy fresh air and a hint of the eternal with us.

We start from the Whitewater Centre, Bedford Road at 2.00 p.m. and should return by 5.00 p.m. The ride will be 15 – 18 miles at a leisurely pace. There are some hills but we will take them easy. The weather forecast is currently for sunny intervals and up to 19 degrees (you may wish to retrieve your suncream from wherever you left it last summer…).

Non-members are welcome but please contact me first (01604 720522 or chairman@ctc-northampton.org.uk) if you have not ridden with us before.

Hope to see you there!