Woodthorpe Park, Sunday 27th January 2019
The weather would be the main talking point as Cycling UK Louth club members gathered at the Meridian Leisure Centre on an already very blustery morning. Today's Ride Leader, Tim Newbery, had envisaged having a cup of tea, a pleasant chat and going home to a good book or watch a film. How wrong could he be. Bernie Hobill, who would be riding a lightweight road bike kindly lent by Rob Whitworth, John Rickett, Alan Hockham and Rob were ready and willing for the ride to Woodthorpe Park. The latest forecast did in fairness suggest the strongest winds and the onset of the rain would be after 2 pm, and if we could get to the refreshment stop in good time would be home in time to escape the worst of the elements.
The outward leg would take us through Little Cawthorpe, Muckton and up to Meagram Top. Straightforward enough as we had the advantage of a 20-30 mph back-wind. This was only Bernie's second venture on Rob's drop handlebar cycle and was to slowly gain confidence as the day went on. Credit to Bernie. We did encounter a few other cyclists and spot wildlife, interesting to see a Buzzard in an adjacent field, his prey pinned to the ground. Lunchtime! The route would have us dropping off the edge of the Wolds as we continued through Aby, Claythorpe and Galley Hill where a left turn took the A1104 and B1473 to Woodthorpe Park, directly opposite Strubby Airfield. Arrival time a little after 11 am. John's son (now a commercial pilot) had his first flight at Strubby.
At Woody's Restaurant and Bar we were delighted to meet up with Paul Linder who had pedalled his way from Irby in the Marsh on his tricycle. He mentioned the wind being quite a feature of the ride and gave us a hint of the work to be done following refreshments. We enjoyed catching up over hot drinks and food. Rob was a little surprised to note that his scrambled egg had morphed into poached eggs but were consumed none the less. Tim was also grateful of the donations of the Lotus Biscoff biscuits. Thanks guys.
Approval was given in June 1941 to construct an airfield at Strubby and would be closer to Europe than any other Lincolnshire airfield. In April 1944, 280 Squadron arrived with the Vickers Warrick ASR 1 aircraft to act in the Air Sea Rescue role for D-Day. The Warwick was a development of the renowned twin engined medium ranged bomber the Wellington and both aircraft were designed by Barnes Wallace. Rescue of aircrew ditched in the sea was effected by the dropping of a life-raft. Surface craft operating from Grimsby and Immingham would then be directed to their location. Strubby later transferred from Coastal Command to Bomber Command with the Avro Lancasters of 619 Squadron (RCAF) arriving from Dunholme. The move was not welcomed by the crews. Dunholme was austere but at least it was close to the 'pleasures' of Lincoln. Strubby was described as austere, cold and damp and a most unwelcome pace to be! One of 619 Squadron's last operational missions of WWII took place on 25th April 1945 with six Lancasters taking off from Strubby to bomb Hitler’s residence at Berchtesgaden on the German/Austrian border. Sadly, one Lancaster (LM756 PG-F) failed to return. On board was nineteen year old mid upper gunner Edward (Ted) Norman who was from Boston. In total, sixty five Lancasters failed to return or were destroyed in creashes during operations from RAF Strubby, all of the aircraft were from 619 Squadron. RIP.
Following refreshments, we bade farewell to Paul as he was to ride home (hope to meet up again before too long), and after some adjustments to Bernie's saddle position, the rest of the group braced themselves for the route back to Louth (and Fotherby) in a strengthening head wind.
There were luckily some sections of the route that were flanked by hedgerows that afforded some shelter but gusty conditions gave us a few challenges. Great teamwork prevailed and we continued to Little Carlton where Bernie took the option of a shortish route back to Manby. For the rest a route through Legbourne (where we lost sight of John for a time) and Stewton to arrive back at the Leisure centre shortly before 1.30 pm, thus avoiding the rain showers (skies were darkening). Winds had also increased to an average of of 32 mph gusting 44 mph so time to award all of ourselves a gold star, although John would have to cycle a little further still.