Brian went on this ride led by Iain D and writes:
A select group of four riders left Moulton at 9.00 a.m. on an overcast but warm and humid morning for a full day’s ride. Soon after Sywell we met rolling hills through Mears Ashby, Castle Ashby and on to Olney, on relatively quiet roads. Here we stopped for coffee and sat outside in the café courtyard enjoying toasted tea cakes as the sun came out. Showing just how small the world is Anne and Ken discovered that they had both grown up in the same area of Lancashire. The hills of Northamptonshire apparently have nothing on those in the north west!! This was to be well tested later in the ride.
From Olney we headed north-east to Turvey and on to Carlton where we did a loop to Odell, Sharnbrook and through the picturesque village of Bletsoe before we turned back though Milton Ernest and more quiet roads. We returned to the Emmaus Centre at Carlton for lunch at 1.00 p.m. The weather was now warming up with blue skies and highs of 23C. We were ready for a break.
After a very convivial lunch we headed up to Poddington and Wollaston before dropping into the Nene valley at Great Doddington. From here it was all uphill via Wilby to Sywell which was the highest point on the ride, not that it was an obvious summit finish.
We arrived in Moulton at 3.45 p.m. after a pleasant day in the saddle. Ideal cycling weather, summer at last! Thanks to Iain for devising and leading the ride.
Milton went on this ride led by Tim and writes:
Seven of us set off from Moulton on a cold, (3-4 degrees) but dry and fairly wind free morning. We were a little late as Ian Mac, not riding on this particular day, but resplendent as ever on his titanium steed, had popped across to wish us bon voyage.
Through Sywell and on to Little Harrowden we took the the lovely ‘Slips’ route to Finedon the edges of which we skirted, then up through Burton Latimer on to Orlingbury then to Broughton, to Loddington, a lovely route through Braybrooke, and eventually to the edges of Market Harborough when we finally found ourselves, in the middle of a storm of sleet, at our coffee stop at Waterloo Farm. Cold and tired after 35 miles non-stop we entered the warm welcoming building and found all tables pre-booked for ‘Mother’s Day’ lunches, but we were welcome to sit outside and they’d do some bacon sandwiches for us.
Oddly enough, the sun came out, the sandwiches and cakes appeared quickly and we rather enjoyed the stop. They couldn’t serve us indoors but did their best to tend to us with great efficiency outside.
Back on the bikes to as direct a trip home as possible via Kelmarsh, Lamport and Walgrave. Tired legs meant the group split a little on the homeward leg, but we all met up at Moulton before wending our ways home.
In all, some 52 miles, 2,700 feet of climbing and the first lot home managed to average 14.8 mph, which wasn’t bad going.
A fine trip with lots of little known rural tracks which are always a treat, although the coffee stop was much needed when it finally arrived.
Thanks to Iain D for devising the route and for Tim who led it in Iain’s absence.
Iain D, our Chairman, led this ride and writes:
By 9.30 a.m. on Sunday, a group of eight cyclists had assembled by Moulton Co-Op. I say “by 9.30” as everyone had turned out early. Whether that was down to the allure of a day’s ride in unseasonably warm temperatures or just due to the strong wind blowing up from town, I don’t know.
We had that wind at our backs as we headed away from Moulton towards Sywell, through Earls Barton and down over the Hardwater crossing of the Nene. The road from Wollaston to Irchester provided a bit of a challenge for the lighter riders as we’d shifted round so that the wind was now coming from the side. In gusts. Straight lines were not the order of the day.
But we survived and Geoff, temporarily taking the lead, guided us through Higham Ferrers and out along the newly-surfaced Greenway over the Nene. We paused to ponder Irthlingborough’s lantern church, so far inland, and that, plus the wind and the marshy nature of the flood plain, did prompt one rider to comment on the “coastal” nature of the ride. We have it all here in Northamptonshire, folks!
The climb away from Irthlingborough was painless, the wind having reverted to being our friend, and we made very good time to Woodford Mill for brunch. The Nene was running a bit high and throwing the odd bit of spray our way but it was still pleasant to be sitting out in the garden in the February sun. And the jacket potatoes were excellent.
Now, with ineluctable logic, s/he who rides with the wind must also ride against it at some point and so we left the lee of Woodford Mill, turned our collective face to the wind and set off back to Moulton, heading first past Cranford and then over the A14 to the sheltering urban landscape of Burton Latimer. From there to Holcot was pretty much unsheltered plain old-fashioned hard work I’m afraid. In fact, by the time we got to Orlingbury we had split into two groups as we took turns trying to hide behind each other. Still, we weren’t riding against the clock: we were on a Sunday Club ride, not a Saturday Brisk, and we had plenty of time in hand after our rapid earlier progress.
I’m pleased to say that we all made it back to Moulton – apart from Geoff who’d turned for home, as planned, at Burton Latimer – and in reasonable time too. Wind aside, the weather had been kind – warm, dry and bright for February.
Thanks to Brian for doing a sterling job as TEC in testing conditions!
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!
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.
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.
Milton, our Secretary, led this ride – originally planned by Brian, our Rides Secretary – and writes:
Five of us set off on a hot sunny afternoon on a loop from Moulton through Sywell, Mears Ashby and on to Great Harrowden, Orlingbury, Old and Scaldwell before stopping at Brixworth for coffee and cake. We closed the loop and returned to Moulton by skirting the reservoir and shredded one of our tyres in the process – sorry Tim! That section of path is getting a little too rough for “racing” tyres.
Lovely afternoon on the bike and good to have a new rider on the trip with us – see you next time Jim!