After early morning rain, the weather turned up trumps with warm sunny periods and a tail wind for our ride starting at Wheathampstead. Five riders started out for our elevenses stop at Barton-le-Clay. Neil was out again, although he had led a very successful Saturday Fun Ride the day before to Shenley, which had attracted 7 riders.
We took the direct route up Lilley Bottom and down into Hexton and Higham Gobion in order to approach Barton-le-Clay from the north and find a route across the A6. Mobile mapping came to the rescue, showing a cycle route to cross to Hayden’s Cafe via Grange Farm Close. Hidden away in a collection of twee shops, the café had some excellent bread pudding as well as the usual fry-ups. Three riders continued onto Great Barford, through what must be Bedfordshire’s most picturesque villages, especially Old Warden, liberally sprinkled with thatched cottages.
Lunch was sandwiches on the banks of the Great Ouse, watching a pair of swans teaching their adolescent offspring the rudiments of wing flapping in preparation for flight. Remarkably, none of us succumbed to a pint at the Anchor just behind us. It must have been the thought of the distance from home to be cycled and the heat.
To avoid retracing our steps, we swung north and east across the A1 and then down through Everton and Potton to Stotfold. The breeze, which had been a tail wind as far as lunch, mercifully dropped on the return leg. In Stotfold, I led our small party on a wild goose chase looking for the mill, being misled by a sign for the mill, which led us into a new, unfinished housing estate. When we eventually found the mill teashop, we all had a traditional tea and scones and contemplated the 25 to 30 miles to home, having already clocked up more than 60 miles.
Using Richards 1990’s OS map (I only had mapping as far as Stotfold) we somehow managed to head south bypassing Letchworth to Hitchin, despite the complete change in the road layout since his map was published! It was then plain sailing through Codicote and home.