Ride to Keysoe – Sunday 30th April

Tim, our webmaster, will be leading this ride and writes:

Start: 9.30 a.m.
Meet: Nene Whitewater Canoe Centre, Bedford Road, Northampton, NN4 7AA. (If coming by car, don’t park within the car park barrier.  There is plenty of space on the approach road.)
Distance: 56 miles
Speed: 12-14 m.p.h.
Refreshments: Scald End Farm, Thurleigh (at approx 30 miles)

From the Canoe Centre we head out in a generally eastwards direction through the villages of Cogenhoe, Grendon, Bozeat, Odell, Sharnbrook and Riseley en route to our most easterly point at Keysoe.  From here we turn south and west to our stop for refreshment at Scald End Farm, located just outside Thurleigh.  Here you can feast on the breakfast “fit for a king” or maybe one of the several cakes on offer.  There is also the benefit of a cosy wood burning stove to warm oneself by.

Once replete, we continue south westwards through Milton Earnest, Harrold and Lavendon before heading north & west on our final homeward leg via Yardley Hastings, Castle Ashby (where a second tea stop is eminently possible) and Cogenhoe Hill before arriving back at the Canoe Centre.

The route can be viewed (and downloaded as a gpx file) at: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/20043554

Any questions?  Please contact Tim on 07749 477231.

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Ride Report – Sunday 7th February

Milton went on this ride led by Brian and writes:

On a fairly cold and windy but clear skied morning only three of us were at the Canoe Centre for the start.  As it was one of the few dry starts of the past couple of months, it was surprising to see so few people.  Perhaps we’ve got out of the habit in recent wet and windy times.

We set off to Cogenhoe and on to Grendon where we found Geoff waiting to join us – and on his “fixie” too, which he rode all day as if it had a multiplicity of gears!  On to Wollaston to Poddington and to Melchbourne and Souldrop before stopping for our only break at the Garden Centre in Milton Ernest.  The world’s most expensive cakes surprised us, but the newly re-furbished room was warm and welcoming and not too busy, so we forgave them the £3.00 bits of cake and ordered meat and potato pies instead.

We returned via Harrold, Bozeat and Castle Ashby and were back by 2.30 p.m. as promised.

Largely blown to Milton Ernest, we fought a stiff breeze for most of the way home, and, with 55 miles on my computer, we were pretty knackered.

The rain stayed largely where it should, in the clouds, and I think we had a cracking day of it.  Lots of quiet country roads with little traffic meant it had been, unsurprisingly, well planned, and was well led, and our thanks, as ever, to Brian.

Ride Report – Sunday 1st November

Phil J went on this ride, led by Ian M, and writes:

A colourful plethora of cyclists gathered at the Canoe Centre on this unusually warm and sunny start to November for the ride to Ringstead.  They included new boys Vic and James, as well as Northants visitor Jeanette. Ten of us set off on the busy A428 before the welcoming turn to Little Houghton and the less than welcoming climb into it. At that point our leader Ian advised that we should split into two groups of five to avoid any issues with cars and we duly obliged.

The downhill at Cogenhoe shortly afterwards provided an early blast of speed for the two groups and we blazed down gratefully giving us plenty of momentum towards Grendon before an early check on numbers at the roadside.  The route down to Bozeat was swift and the ride paused there briefly for a simple mechanical on Jeanette’s bike. And, after a quick check of one or two maps, we were on our way again.

The weather was simply fantastic as we pressed on towards Podington, all of us amazed at how lucky we were to be riding in such glorious sunshine at this time of the year. Hinwick Hall looked majestic as we skirted around it.  The road ramped up a little towards Wymington and the terrain opened up at the same time to reveal wonderful scenery as far as the eye could see.  Riders changed groups, layers came off but all made good time regardless.

Towards Chelveston and beyond, the traffic levels increased meaning more splitting of the large group to accommodate the drivers going our way.  Without incident we navigated our way out of the urban sprawl that is Raunds and onto quieter roads with the mill on the horizon.

Our chair, Iain D, was already soaking up the sun in a vibrant location overlooking the marina and we duly joined him.  Two tables were required for our thirsty peleton.  The service was great and we all enjoyed our time there before heading back home.

Out of the mill a short sharp rise was waiting with hardly anybody in the right gear!  Cue frantic grinding of gears to get us up and over.  The reward at the summit was another reminder of the great weather and the spectacular colours of autumn.

Great Addington was the first village en route before meandering our way round to Cranford and eventually over the A14 as we made our way towards the streets of Burton Latimer and the Weetabix plant nearby.  Isham and Orlingbury passed quickly before the long and winding road towards Sywell beckoned.  Once again keeping your distance from the riders up ahead was the order of the day and this continued through Overstone as well.

At Moulton Co-op some the group said their goodbyes with it seemed just three of us heading for the finish.  We passed busy parks, residential areas and cyclepaths but we arrived at the Canoe Centre without incident before three more riders joined us having taken a slightly different route back.

A quite tactical ride for everyone today due to the numbers but a better ride at this time of year would be difficult to find!

Stunning scenery and wonderful weather with a great cafe stop to boot!

Thanks to Ian M for the ride!

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

Brisk morning ride – “The Harrold Loop” – Saturday 8th February

Brian, our Secretary, is leading this ride and writes:

We start at the Canoe Centre (Nene Whitewater Centre, Bedford Road, NN4 7AA) at 9.30 a.m. prompt for a short and fast ride of  34 miles  return by 13.00

Route:  Canoe Centre  – Cogenhoe – Castle Ashby – Yardley Hastings – Olney – Cold Brayfield – Turvey – Carlton – Harrold – Bozeat – Grendon – Canoe Centre

We will stop for a quick coffee at the Emmaus Village Bistro in Carlton (MK43 7LQ).

The route includes two short stretches of the A428; otherwise it is on reasonably quiet B roads.

More information from Brian on 01604 622073  (or  07722 055149 on the day)

Hope to see your there.

Ride Report – Sunday 3rd March

Iain Dawson went on this ride and writes:

Six of us gathered in the bright but chilly forecourt of the Canoe Centre – three of us equipped in usual day-ride trim, two on fixed gears and one poor soul who’d decided to see how his bike rode with a week’s worth of touring gear strapped to it!

Brian led us off into the sunshine and down the A45 cycle-path before dispatching the climbs into Cogenhoe and Grendon in a brisk-ish fashion before we hauled ourselves through Wollaston and into Podington to find Eleanor basking in the sun while waiting for us to turn up.

After a quick comfort/shopping stop at the garden centre, we rolled eastwards and out onto the A6 (the road itself, because some berk had parked his car right on the cycle path) then past the motte-and-bailey at Yelden and up to the old airfield at Bedford, familiar to those who’ve ridden the Guy Barber ride.

Lunch was at a very good garden centre café in Milton Ernest. Not only had they reserved us a table but they’d had to because the place was so busy. I guess it must be spring or something. Anyway, highly recommended for future stops.

The return leg was just as pleasant with a steady roll through Felpersham, sorry Felmersham, and Bozeat before hitting the lovely swooping lanes behind Castle Ashby. Discretion being the better part of valour, Brian elected to give Whiston Hill a miss and so we took the easy way round to Cogenhoe (with its unmissable hill), the group starting to split as various riders turned for home on the way. The small rise to Little Houghton and a brief sprint along the A428 brought the ride (well just me actually, the others all having split off by now) back to the Canoe Centre just before a quarter past three, with the sun still shining and the forecourt considerably warmer than it had been when we left.

Thanks to Brian for a pleasant day’s ride, and for searching out a new lunch stop for us.

See you next time!