Ride Report – Leisure Ride – Saturday 25th October

Rowan went on this ride, led by Iain D.  She writes:

Four of us met up at the entrance to the Brampton Valley Way (BVW), near the Windhover pub on Saturday afternoon for what was the last of our summertime rides.

Luckily for us, the sun came out and we enjoyed some very mild, if a little windy, weather as Iain D. led Milton, Dave U. and myself northwards up the BVW path, over loose chippings and through some puddles (eek!) until we hit a beautifully smooth surfaced (in comparison) road towards Creaton village and up the rather steep but scenic hill!

Our ride was rather challenging in terms of ups and downs; certainly it was for me after having a few weeks off from suffering a twisted neck muscle but as we got into the swing of it I would say we might have re-titled our ride “brisk”.

We rode through Creaton, Hollowell, Ravensthorpe, East Haddon and lastly along the Holdenby road towards our refreshment stop, Café Monde, Church Brampton. We went “up hill and down dale” for the whole ride, but I seemed to go up a few gears on the final stretch towards my waiting coffee! Milton left us at this point to go and walk his dog ….

The remaining three of us were very pleased to meet up at our tea stop with John Alcock , who had cycled over from his home in Duston to be with us. Thanks to John we had a great conversation ranging from our shared re-collections of Chesterfield and Worksop to the future of our CTC groups.

Thanks to Iain D for organising this ride and for everyone else’s company.

Ride Report – Leisure Plus Ride 19th July

Milton, another ride leader, went on this ride and writes

On a mild damp day, 7 of us met up for a short 30 mile ride to Kelmarsh Buddhist Centre for coffee and cake via Holcott and Harrington and returned to Moulton by means of  Arthingworth and Scaldwell and not the Brampton Valley Way as first planned. Pouring rain during our tea break meant the BVW surface would be less than good for the bikes, and our esteemed Chairman was, after all, out on his fine Bianchi!

A lovely day, even in the wet, and with three first timers, including the visiting Ken from Morecambe, a good club day.

Ride Report – Harrington Thor Missile Site

Ian M went on this ride, organised by Alex and guided on site by Steve, and writes:

Last night’s ride was from our Brampton Valley Way meeting point out to the old airfield at Harrington. There were seven of us on the ride and others also made their way to Harrington so that ten of us met with Alex’s friend Steve for a guided walk over the remains of the airfield with particular reference to the part it played in the Cold War. Most people associate Harrington with American bombing raids over Germany from 1943 (and also perhaps with the dropping of SOE parachutists into occupied Europe) but few perhaps realise the part the airfield played fifteen years later in the Cold War.

Between 1958 and 1963 (that’s from the launch of Sputnik to the Cuban Missile Crisis – the height of Soviet-American tension), Harrington was the home of one of the UK’s Thor Missile installations. It housed three intermediate range ballistic missiles (with a range capable of reaching Moscow) all tipped with nuclear warheads!

Steve met us at the roadside closest to the main WWII runway. He gave us a short introduction, handed out a site plan of the airfield (which he had drawn himself) together with a collection of contemporary photographs, a map of all the other Thor sites, and cutaway drawings of the southernmost launch site and of a Thor missile.

Paying attention to Steve's description - and to his hand-out

Paying attention to Steve’s description – and to his hand-out

Then, having locked our bikes together out of view of the road, we went on a thorough walk (and a thoroughly entertaining walk) of the site. The southernmost of the three missile launch pads is the one that has crumbled away least and it was here that we spent most time. With a guide like Steve, and with his drawings and photos, it was not at all difficult to imagine the buildings and operations as they were over fifty years ago – albeit now there are just a few ruins of buildings and oddly unremarkable marks of the nuclear front line.

Posts and wire from the security fencing

Posts and wire from the security fencing

But, with our guide, we were able to make out very clearly everything from rusting wire (that had been part of the security fencing) to the erecting and launching pad for a missile (shades of Dr Strangelove!).

At the erecting-launching pad

At the erecting-launching pad

There were the scarely visible paint marks which guided the personnel and the marks of the surveys which were used to aim the nuclear weapons.

We walked past the middle and northernmost launch pads towards the part of the site that had been the US compound – and there, looking for all the world like a prefab garage for a minibus, was the warhead store – a building which for a few years had held three nuclear warheads!

Nuclear warhead store

Nuclear warhead store

We met one or two birdwatchers – and a family from Rothwell who had always lived in the area and who remembered what their parents and grandparents had told them about the site. Then, after a good one-a-half hours at the site, it was time to pedal back to Northampton with the opportunity to carry on our discussions with Steve at The Brampton Halt.

Truly a very memorable evening!

Some of Steve’s work can be seen on the Facebook page of the Harrington Thor Preservation Society which is another treat!

Our route is here on RideWithGPS.

Wishing Phil a speedy recovery!

This morning’s ride was planned by Phil L – “brisk” of course! Phillip G stepped into the leader’s rôle.  We all took time at the start to pose for Phil – and especially in the wave to wish him a speedy recovery!  All the best, Phil!

Riders gather at the start

Riders gather at the start

We pose - looking ready for a "brisk" ride!

We pose – looking ready for a “brisk” ride!

And we wave, "All the best, Phil!"

And we wave, “All the best, Phil!”

Afternoon ride – Saturday 12th April

Iain Dawson, our Rides Secretary, will be leading this ride and writes:

We have a leisurely ride planned, leaving from the Brampton Valley Way (BVW) / Welford Road crossing at 2.00 p.m.  (Postcode NN6 8AA; parking at BVW car park up Brampton Lane opposite The Windhover.)  We will cross the dam at Pitsford, tackle part of the BVW and the Gamboro Plantation track to Cottesbrooke.   Then we head back through Creaton and Holdenby to Church Brampton for coffee; then it’s back down the hill to where we started.

Only one significant climb but please note that one of the tracks is unsurfaced so we might all be walking that one (short) rough stretch!

Weather forecast is currently dry so I hope to see you down at the Brampton Valley Way at 2.00 p.m. on Saturday.

Iain is on 07909 992468.

Ride to Newport Pagnell – Saturday 22nd February

Phil L is leading this ride and writes:

We’ll start at 9.30 a.m. at Hunsbury (Overslade Close, East Hunsbury, NN4 0RZ) for a ride of approximately 38 miles at a brisk pace (say 14 mph).

The route takes us out via Blisworth, Ashton and Castlethorpe to Newport Pagnell for brunch.  We’ll return via Hanslope and NCR 6.

This is slightly shorter than the route originally in the programme due to the recent flooding but allows us to stop for coffee and cake/snacks in Newport Pagnell instead of at Willen Lake.

Phil is on 07867 3889592.

Upgrading the Brampton Valley Way Cycle Path (part 3)

Blog posts back in January and February this year were pretty positive about the upgrading work that is being done done to the Brampton Valley Way (BVW) between the A5099 crossing (near “The Windhover”) and Mill Lane.  See Upgrading the Brampton Valley Way Cycle Path and Upgrading the Brampton Valley Way Cycle Path Part 2

Now this is also National Cycle Network Route 6 and so an important cycle path – and one local CTC member, Peter, reports on his dissatisfaction with the upgrading nine months on.

Last week I chanced my luck and tried out the Route 6 through to Kings Heath from Kingsthorpe, going under the railway and along side the Nene. This section had been finished for some time, but access had been inhibited by the work that continued on the Kings Heath side of the bridge. Thanks to Phil’s info – we now know it’s open !!
We’d had quite a bit of rain, but not a “flood”. The river had subsided into its bed and the tunnel under the railway was mostly clear of running water.  I am not all together enamoured with the final result. Perhaps I’m niggling, or perhaps I’m not alone in my criticisms.
The lower section has a layer of mud and stones left by the flood river, which does not wash out with the flow of water. The upper “dry” section of path leads onto a quagmire before reaching the new tarmac path up to the green (?) lane.
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The slope of the land and bank must drain directly in to the river at this same point, but no account of this seems to have made in this “improvement”.
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To my mind there hasn’t been a great deal of joined-up thinking put into what must have been an expensive project. Surely a few minor and inexpensive amendments might be made which could make all the difference to a good job done and an inferior bodge.
I’m not only a grumpy old man, I like my cycling and would like to see my taxes spent wisely!

Ride Report – Saturday 12th October

David went on this afternoon leisure ride and writes:

Iain and Milton were at the start point where the Brampton Valley Way (BVW) crosses the A5099 when I arrived, followed shortly by John C suffering the effects of a bad cold, that he was sure would be the death of him.

We followed Iain along the newly tarmacked section of the BVW towards Mill Lane going under the recently completed railway underpass that has been designed to allow passage by bicycle or walker even when the river overflows with a raised section just wide enough to get through and under.

NCN Route 6 as it goes under the Northampton-Long Buckby railway line

The Brampton Valley Way (NCN Route 6) as it goes under the Northampton-Long Buckby railway line

While heading up towards the Cock Hotel Brian joined us as we began the urban cycle ways of Kingsthorpe, passed the University Campus and through Moulton to Pitsford Reservoir.

Urban cycling in Kingsthorpe

Urban cycling in Kingsthorpe

The ride round Pitsford Reservoir on the gravel track provided a pleasant view of the sailing boats as the terrain gradually changed to woods and tarmac again crossing the dam to the Willow Café for refreshments.

Around Pitsford Reservoir

Around Pitsford Reservoir

After a brief look at what the cycle shop had on show, we took the rough track trail connection back from Brixworth to our BVW start passing Brampton Halt and the trains along the way. A lot of varied and interesting sections from Iain’s led route.

Merry Tom Lane connects Brixworth to the Brampton Valley Way

Merry Tom Lane connects Brixworth to the Brampton Valley Way

Ride Report – Sunday 5th May

Iain Dawson led this ride – “A Ride of Two Rivers” – and writes:

There were five of us ready, outside the Canoe Centre, for this trip on Sunday morning and the weather was looking promising as well. Better than it did last time I tried to lead this ride anyway.

After a short deviation into the industrial estate, we picked-up National Cycle Route 6 in Great Houghton, rode on past Salcey Forest, and down through Haversham on the north side of Milton Keynes. Then we turned onto a gated road that brought us out by Stantonbury Wharf and the Grand Union Canal. We followed this, more or less, half way to Willen Lake, the only snag being that whoever drew the Buckinghamshire street map didn’t know where the bridges over the canal were! Redway navigation is tricky at the best of times, because you never see the street signs, but to have bridges spring up out of nowhere? That’s a new one on me! Anyway, after a couple more pauses to check the map and the signs on nearby streets (thanks Karen and Dave), we found a sign, an actual sign, for “Willen Lake” and were duly delivered to the café there.

Refreshed, we took to the Redways once again to cut through a corner of the original Milton Keynes, with its 12th-century church, and past the Open University, which wasn’t quite as exciting as I’d hoped. We did, however, get to see a lot of the greenery that Milton Keynes has to offer before we cut through the car parks at the west end of the shopping centre and headed up past Linford Wood to the old railway line that now serves as a pedestrian/cycle link between northern MK and Newport Pagnell. A short ride from there – up through Sherington and Emberton Country Park – saw us installed in our favourite Olney café for lunch, sitting out in the sun. I have to say, each time we crossed the Ouse I was getting more and more tempted to drop down to it and take a dip. The weather was magnificent for May.

With only the few miles separating Olney (on the Ouse) from the Canoe Centre (on the Nene), we set off with just Cogenhoe hill left requiring any real work ahead of us and we had an uneventful final leg back to Northampton to finish around 4pm. Not bad for a 52 mile ride taking in some very congested Redways with a couple of navigation errors thrown in to temper the pace.

Brisk ride on Saturday morning, 13th April

Phil Letts will be leading this ride and writes:

We start at 9.30 a.m. from the Brampton Valley Way (BVW), at the crossing of the A5199 near The Windhover, for a brisk ride of 35 miles.

The route follows or shadows the Midshires Way – all of which is now on good road surfaces so off-road bikes are not required.

We go out via the Bramptons, Nobottle, Flore, Gayton and Roade to Salcey Forest for a coffee stop after 25 miles.

We return following the National Route 6 through Quinton, Great Houghton and Northampton to the BVW after 10 more miles.

Phil is on 07867 388592.