A three day run from London to friends near the Humber, trying to weave together a route away from major roads with the aid of cycletravel.com’s algorithm. Started out from London on the old A1 as far as Brookmans Park, then NNE through pleasant rolling countryside to the east of Stevenage. NE from Ashwell towards Wimpole and through the park in front of the house (famous for its Soane plunge bath and the probably apocryphal tale of the last chateleine’s revenge picnic), before hitting the Blue Lion in Hardwick for a hearty lunch on what had turned into a grey, windy day. Round the NW of Cambridge, with a short stretch of the butter smooth cycle route which runs alongside the dedicated bus-track to St Ives, and across the first proper lowland stretch to Sutton. NW for a wearying couple of miles into the teeth of the wind to Chatteris, ready for the very comfortable and friendly Bramley House Hotel and a good curry at the Spice Lounge.
Day two better weather, north to March, round the prison, NE to Wisbech and joined the NCN1, which we followed through a succession of towns and past very large Cambridgeshire churches to Holbeach, where we stopped for excellent toasted sandwiches and cakes at Café Aurora. Across the Welland at Fosdyke and north across the flattest and lowest land in Britain to Boston, commenting on the many middle-aged men passing their time sitting in white Vauxhall Astras looking at endless views of cabbage fields (very odd). Into Boston to the foot of the Stump, then out of town on the wonderful cycle path along the Witham, passing the landmark Witham and Blues Club on the B1192 before heading round the west of Coningsby (home to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight) and Tattershall with its fabulous brick-built keep. To Woodhall Spa for beer, food and sleep at the Dower House Hotel, brilliantly comfortable and friendly, but sadly too many braying golfers coming back late for an undisturbed good night’s sleep (the alternative Petwood Hotel has the unmissable 617 Squadron Bar with some epic memorabilia including a large chunk of Russian pine tree acquired inadvertently during a Tirpitz raid, but no rooms available for our dates).
Day 3 better weather again, From Woodhall to Lincoln, following the river most of the way (there’s a short dogleg away at Bardney, apparently because of an industrial plant built right next to the river). We’d first sighted Lincoln Cathedral on day two when we were still south of Woodhall, visible all the way along the river, until it is suddenly looming overhead. Into Lincoln and we took the scenic direct route up Steep Hill (no kidding, especially after sixteen or so miles of flat river cycling) to stop in the fantastic Cathedral Close before running out of town to the NNE and speeding through prosperous farmland and handsome farmhouses towards Market Rasen, Walesby, a short sharp climb onto the Wolds, and north to our finish.
A good fun trip, but not a great cycle, the Herts and Cambs stretches are too commuterville, whilst the long straight stretches along dykes and rivers in North Cambs and South Lincs can get a bit repetitive (especially into the wind), but some nice towns and a great Cathedral city, with the countryside and the cycling getting much more interesting and attractive north of Lincoln.