Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Sunny Cycle to Saffron Walden (from Cambridge in the wind) and back

I have almost gotten back on track with my Posts - this is Sunday's cycle ride. The reason I have caught up is not that I have suddenly found lots of time to tap them out, in fact the reverse is true. I was working in Cambridge on Friday and Saturday and although I cycled on those days and took my small camera with me I didn't take any pictures. Perhaps because I was a little late setting off and ended up cycling a bit too fast and then over-heating when I reached my destination. Despite changing my clothes I still had to stand next to a fan for a while to cool down.

It also meant that I could not go out for a longer run on Saturday which left Sunday. As my time was limited I had around three hours (I know, not that limited) I went out on my Longstaff Touring bike to do a bit of mile-munching-nibbling. For my short cycle rides in Cambridge even though the sun has been blasting down I have not bothered with sun screen - if they had been longer I would have though. I did not need to check the weather forecast to see that it was windy - and was likely to stay that way during Sunday with wind speeds of around 17mph being shown in the Cambridge area.

So I chose a route where I would have the wind behind me and with the drop-handlebars on my Longstaff it would be a bit more stream-lined than on my Marin Hybrid. The Sustrans routes are quite good for basing a ride on and I had not been to Saffron Walden for a while so I had decided what the return leg of my ride was going to be. The next question was how to get there, preferably on on country lanes. In the end I headed out to Dullingham and managed to pick a route that was mainly C roads. There was one unpleasant crossing - the A1307 - but I only had to cross the road and despite it being a dual-carriageway where I crossed there must have been a lull in the traffic as I got across without any problems.

I find when I am on the road I tend to take fewer pictures - because there are fewer opportunities to stop - all those cars get in the way.

When I set off the sun was blazing and the skies were blue - I had put on loads of sunscreen and took two water bottles with ice and lemon squash topped up with water. After having had my Longstaff overhauled (chain, block) and replacing the pedals which were getting very, very clicky it was great to be cycling quietly. Although I was not cycling into the wind when I set of from Cambridge from Swaffham Bulbeck onwards there was wind against me and when I reached Dullingham I turned more directly into the wind. This was taken on the way towards Dullingham, just before the Polo Pitch - perhaps I should take a picture of that - I will the next time there is a match being played.

The other problem with taking pictures was that the wind made it hard to hold the camera still when taking multiple exposure shots. The clouds looked blurry anyway - my daughter said they looked the same with or without her glasses on.


On the way down to saffron Walden I only stopped once more to take a picture of this sign - the lane is called Puddlewart Lane. checking on the 25K OS map there appears to be a place called Puddle Wharf with Ashdon Street Farm at the end of the lane. There is one bridleway that might be interesting to explore about two thirds down the Lane. A little bit further down the Walden Road there is also a no through lane called Butlers Lane that has the Harcamlow Way crossing the end of it (as a byway) and a couple of other byways/bridleway routes that might be worth exploring. One heads down to Saffron Walden another to Little Walden.


I cycled into Saffron Walden and turned right onto the High Street and then out of the town towards Audley End. I stood on Adam Bridge taking a picture of the River Cam/Granta as it wended its way through the grounds of Audley End. At the same time a couple of cyclists went past up towards the junction - it gets steep just before the junction - they made it without getting off though.


This is the picture I took with the Stables to the left and Stable bridge in view. There was also a miniature railway on the other side of the road, my kids are a bit old for that now though.


You turn left at the junction in the previous picture and then right along chestnut avenue where the road climbs and passes under a railway and the M11. I say climb it rises from around 64m above seal level to 89m at the junction in this picture - so not much of a climb really... I have cycled along this road before, although I normally cycle down the Sustrans 11 route into Saffron Walden and then back another way. I found myself a little uncertain which way to go as in general there are only small Sustrans signs around and they are placed to be visible for people on the route (in either direction). I had to stop and look around the junction to spot this discrete sign on a telegraph pole.


The road then climbs up a bit more to around 111m passing through a small village with the name Catmere End - there look to be some interesting byways and bridleways through to Elmdon and Chrishall - again places that look to be worth an explore. The byways and bridleways make great ways of connecting country-lane routes that are not navigable by car and so you only get local traffic on them. The road drops quite quickly out of Catmere and the road is a fair bit lower than the verges. As I set off a car was zooming up the other way - it was a good job I have had my brakes sorted as it was hidden until we were quite close - it would have been embarrassing to have run into a car.

The byway between Strethall and Elmdon forms part of the Icknield way which follows the road for a bit before dropping down across the fields. The road then climbs from 75m up to just around 90m. These numbers don't sound to bad - but they need a bit of effort when you are used to hills. The picture belows shows the Icknield path dropping down across the fields to cross the M11 on the way to Great Chesterford. The last time I looked the path was still fairly lumpy - it looks ok for my Hybrid now though.


The Icknield Way alongside my road route. The picture is made up of three views and I think has distorted the vista a little. The road goes up and the bridleway goes down - here they almost look to be on the same level.

Sustrans 11 nr Saffron Walden.jpg

This is a detail from the previous panoramic picture - the tractor routes through the crops become quite striking as the crops grow.


This is the last hill of the ride and the road then drops down a fast hill to Ickleton. I passed a rather red-faced cyclist coming up the road. It was a hot day after all. I then followed Sustrans 11 up through Hinxton and Sawston past the Genome artwork and up to Addenbrookes Hospital. The Sustrans route from great Shelford to Cambridge is shown on the OS 50K mas as following the A1301 rather than a shared-use path alongside the railway line. So it is worth always checking the Sustrans website for their view of where particular routes go.

In this picture Addenbrookes Hospital is to the left - the verges have been nicely cut - giving clearance without unnecessarily destroying too much vegetation.


The view back down the path - the hill to the right of this picture is a road for motorists to get to Addenbrookes from the M11 and vice versa - but there will apparently be cameras to prevent motorists using the hospital route as a short-cut between Hills Road and Long Road and the M11 - although if you read the article it does not all appear to be settled as to how they might enforce the rule though..


The Addenbrookes Campus is growing with a new Biomedical Research Building.


The path also has solar lighting along its edge - not quite the same as the shared used path along the Newmarket Road next to the airfield.


I then returned along to Cambridge cycling through Cherry Hinton - the scene of traffic calming gone mad. What was the road planner thinking when he planned it?

The journey home was much easier with the wind behind me - perhaps that is why I took a few more pictures?


  1. Very nice tour!
    Thanks a lot for posting this.

  2. Can you post a high resolution version of your map so I can print it on my color printer?


  3. Hi Seth, have you tried right clicking on the picture and opening it up in a new window. You should then be able to download it. (The original is approx 1800 x 2265 pixels so only 4 megapixels I'm afraid as it was a screen grab.)

    I did that ride before I started using Bike Route Toaster. However I have now added this route to my list of BRT maps so the ride is available here: Cambridge Saffron Walden Loop. You can download and/or view the route on various maps including Google, OSM and OSM Cycle map.

  4. Ah, this is where I should have put my slightly shorter route!

    Cambridge to Saffron Walden Circuit 2012 with video