A quiet, rolling ride from one stately home to another.
|East Midlands||Stamford Train Station, Stamford, Lincs||107 km||953 m|
Every year I find it hard to accept that summer must end, but this year more so than ever. There are few things preventing insanity during the constant cycle of bad news that is 2020 but clear blue skies and long bike rides through the beautiful british countryside are two of them. The recent appalling weather serves as a stark reminder that you must take every opportunity you can to get out of the house, off the sofa and onto your bike. In the UK there’s no guarantee that next weekend will be nice so seize the opportunity while you can. Today was one of those days. Clear, slightly windy, slightly cold, but compared to what we’ve had, utterly wonderful.
For those traveling to start this route we begin in the beautiful south Lincolnshire market town of Stamford. The architecture here is gorgeous, mostly 17th and 18th century stone buildings, of which over 600 are listed. Just outside Stamford, set in beautiful and expansive grounds is the imposing Burghley House, the grounds of which are well worth a visit. To the west is Rutland Water which has a host of activities including family friendly off road bike trails, water sports and sailing.
Our route takes us from one stately home to another, our target being Belvoir Castle (pronounced beaver... obviously) which sits at the head of the Trent Valley, offering extensive views across the lush green countryside, and a chance to have a coffee and bacon cob (i.e. a bread roll) from Cafe Allez, a massively popular stop for cyclists across the east midlands.
From Burghley House we pick our way up to Castle Bytham, where you can stop for a nice coffee and cake at Rassles Garden Centre. I highly recommend the Guiness Cake. We rode on Sunday, when it was unfortunately shut, but given that I started this ride from my home town of Bourne, just 15km away that was not a problem. From here we head north along very quiet and gently rolling roads toward the village of Buckminster and towards Belvoir itself. As you approach the castle comes into view, set in a thick green forest high on the hillside. The terrain starts to change here. There’s a nice downhill run into Knipton and a pretty but relatively gentle climb before you drop down to Cafe Allez. As previously mentioned, on a clear day you can see for miles into the trent valley, it's a very nice place to stop.
After a quick pit stop for coffee and sarnies we drop further into the valley and turn left to ride along the valley floor. I’ve ridden here before and the wind can rip through this area as it’s so flat and exposed but today we’re in luck. Another left turn and we’re at the base of the only "100 climbs" road in the area, Terrace Hill. By the standards of the rest of the climbs in the book, this one is very easy but nonetheless enjoyable and does pack more of a sting than anything else in the area. At 1km long and averaging 7.5% the pain is over in a few minutes. There are a few hundred meters in double figure gradient but the road levels off before it causes any real problems.
From here on in the ride is pretty lumpy for quite a while. There are lots of small hills that sap the energy from the legs and are often very steep. It’s pretty and quiet however and in no time we find ourselves at “The Windmill” in Wymondham, which is a bit of a mecca for cyclists in the area. Just north of Rutland water, it attracts riders from across the whole of the East Midlands. We’ve met people here from Leicester, Nottingham and beyond. It serves nice coffee, good cake and has a bike shop on site, selling drool worthy BMC, Bianchi and Enigma bikes.
We’re not far from home now, and it’s mostly rolling terrain back into Stamford with no real notable climbs. Today the wind is in our favour so we decide to step on the gas and make it back in the early afternoon.
While not super hilly and arduous, this is a great route. It’s very quiet, very pretty and has lots of nice places to stop. If you live near Stamford, or fancy coming to visit with the family then I’d recommend this route or a variation on it, or if you fancy something more challenging, riding to Cafe Ventoux in Tugby. I will write about and share that route at some point in the future because it’s also well worth a ride.
Edit - For those with the legs for a longer version of the same ride I'd highly recommend riding to "Cafe Velo Verde" in Screveton, Nottinghamshire. From Bourne (my hometown) it's 135km ish... The route can be found here.