Day 1 : DMX to Buckingham

Strictly speaking only half a day as I spent the morning with Katy and Eilidh and left at half past one. 61km, moving average 16.4km/hr, total time 4hrs 12 minus. 

After a km on the A600 turned onto the lanes and wiggled my way west and north round Bedford towards Cranfield. Did manage to take a few photos today but mostly of different types of gates on cycle paths. Coming down the hill from Haynes into the Bedford valley I glanced left and saw the old airship hangers at Cotton End with what looked at first like a giant curved white marquee nearby. Could be that they’ve actually got an airship there.

Passed through a village called Stuartsby all neatly layed out brick built modest houses and bungalows around green grassy spaces and a big factory chimney with Stuarts written down it. Felt like a model village from early last century. Stuarts turned out to be a brickworks now called London Brick so I guess the original Mr. Stuart made his pile in bricks and went benevolent.

Hit the very busy A421 SW of Bedford and found there was a parallel path alongside a flooded extraction pit. This area is pretty flat and loads of old pits – sand, gravel or clay I’m not sure; you need sand and clay to make bricks. Anyway the surface was OK once through the turnstile. A line of shrubs screened us from the A421 on one side, and more shrubbery between us and the water.

A flash of irredescent blue across the path in front of me was most likely a kingfisher. A little further on a green woodpecker was busy on the grass verge.

Some of the pits are flooded, others are being used for landfill (possibly from London), some of these are full and have been capped with turf to make a slight domed hill which is being tapped for gas from the decaying rubbish inside.

The path turned into a lane parallel with the main road and eventually rose up and crossed it allowing us to proceed NorthWest by West towards Cranfield.

The lane turned into another off road path through slightly more interesting countryside. After Cranfield we approached and crossed over the M1with the giant sheds of Milton Keynes poking over the hedge a field or two away.

A first I was in a wasteland of new building sites in preparation – could be more houses or more sheds. Some new houses appeared, incomplete, then complete and newly occupied and then we were off the roads and into a maze of twisty little mostly shared use cycle paths.

Mr Google was providing the navigation from inside the handlebar bag. I have little idea if the route was good as he recalculate on the fly when you go wrong (as I think I did at least twice). Sometimes alleyways between houses, sometimes alongside quite main seeming roads on a dedicated path separated by a grass verge. Sometimes diving under roads or crossing at a roundabout, sometimes through linear parkland between a river and some allotments. Here I spotted for a refreshment on a convenient park bench.

The weather had been grey but warm with a bit of a breeze; the way was so twisty all day that inevitably sometimes it was a head wind. Hardly seemed to be any hills though so that was easy.

After a while a canal was crossed – the Grand Union I imagine. The a spell along the towpath past houses with water frontage and some with their own mooring dock in a Backwater. Being a canal there was also evidence of old industry along it, decaying warehouses behind brick walls awaiting redevelopment.

Under the great North Eastern railway line with trains thundering to Edinburgh alongside the canal. A spell along something called the Millennium Cycle Path which turned out to be one of the most overgrown sections, then another stretch along the canal and eventually emerging back onto road somewhere North West of MK.

A strange passage it seemed, almost lost my bearings quite often but trust in Mr. Google seemed to pay off.

Until the final section of the day when he decided that it would be good to send me down the A422 into Buckingham. I stuck it for a couple of km before deciding that there must be a better way and finding a minor route alternative only slightly longer. I guess Mr. G was exhausted after working out a way through MK. Tomorrow I’ll try Ms Osm who was rejected today as she proposed a really stupid route to start off going East of Bedford.

Hotel tonight is the White Hart in Buckingham. Very much like our own White Hart in Launceston. An old coaching inn with a moderately dilapidated feel. Was annoyed first by having to wait 15mins for the checkin girl to appear, and then by my stupidity in not noticing that I had booked a room only rate and breakfast would be another tenner. That was entirely my fault, but painting the room in shades of brown an fitting a ridiculously dim bulb was down to them. As was the strange smell on the landing (rotting rodent perhaps)

Anyways I went out and had a five (out of five) star steak and ale pie at a much nicer pub by the river (or stream to be more accurate). Also found a much better place to have breakfast and a local shop to get a replacement charger lead and some milk for morning tea and fruit for tomorrow’s ride.

Buckingham seems a nice town, about the size of Lanson but with more good looking places to eat and at least four good pubs and a wine bar on top of the White Hart.