Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Over the “hills” and (not very) far away: Cambridge to Linton (part 1)

Saturday, July 30th: Sometimes you can get too much of bellyaching bicyclists or groaning grimpeurs and you just have to celebrate some of the good things about cycling. There is the Hungarian Grand Prix this weekend so I thought I would try and get a longer ride in on Saturday as the race tends  to get in the way of longer Sunday afternoon cycle rides.

I know that I have mentioned one or two rides in the Flatlands that I really enjoy – this particular one has to rate somewhere in the top 5 though. It would rate even higher if I could find a better way back, perhaps I ought to check out the Bowsers area again. Why do I like this route so much? Well it is not a route I have been on a lot of times, so I am not over-familiar with it, More importantly it crosses two patches of countryside which are fairly isolated – for round these parts anyway.

The first bit of the journey makes use of the Roman Road between Cambridge and Balsham, through what is picturesque and rolling countryside, which is quite different from the fens further north. Although the route does climb up and down some of those rolling hills there is nothing too strenuous and in general the off-road bits are good for cycling along.  Now that doesn’t mean they are easy level paths, but you never find yourself struggling along interminable ruts and the crossing from the Roman Road through to Great Chesterford follows a route which is much trickier and longer by car.

According to Bike Route Toaster (BRT) the road trip from Linton to Great Chesterford is about 10Km whereas the more direct cross-country route is 6Km. The overall length is just over 58Km/ 36miles and would be great for anyone wanting to get a taster of cycling away from the roads and crowds. The map is shown below and here is the BRT link. There are a couple of climbs in the middle which is the best place for them. Now when I say climbs we are only talking about climbs of 50m to 60m and the maximum elevation is around 110m so you don’t have to worry about altitude sickness.

I ended up taking quite a few pictures on the ride and so have arbitrarily split the Post up into two unequal parts. I tend to take more pictures in the picturesque areas than I do in the parts of the ride dominated by roads.

Here is what it looked like as I was cycling along the Roman Road. It was warm, sunny and seemed to stretch on for miles. The track is also quite reasonable to cycle along, although it can get a bit rutted in places. You do meet people on the “road” but it always surprises me how few people I do meet.

There are always interesting wild flowers growing at this time of year, but this Scabious was what I stopped to take a picture of.

I seem to remember reading that the forecast for the summer weather suggests some variability, so the farmers are making the most of the current spell of nice weather. Fields along both sides of the Roman Road are being combined. It always seems to kick up a fair bit of dust.  You can also get a sense of the rolling countryside from this picture.

This is the view looking back towards Cambridge, if you want to see the picture at a larger scale click here (and in the Chrome browser the cursor shows with a plus in it and you can click on the picture again to make it slightly larger again. if you do you can just about see Gunner’s Hall on the horizon to the right hand-side. At this point the route has just climbed a small hill. There is an upside as you do get to go down the other side.

Here is that downside – a narrow-ish bit of single track, you do have to watch out for rabbit holes though.  There looks to be quite a log of ragwort on each side as well. It could be Field Fleawort which looks similar (see page three of the pdf), but that is much shorter. I really ought to take my Book of wildflowers with me and have a closer look.

When you reach the B1052 you can quite clearly see the Linton Water Tower on Rivey Hill  which is the next place to head for. You leave the B1052 as it bends around the hill and you end up cycling straight up towards the Water Tower along a gravel road. It is quite short and the view is worth it. There are two choices of route around the tower. this time I took the direct route towards Linton along a path on the edge of Rivey Wood. The path is quite steep and much easier to cycle down although even when dry there seems to be water running down bits of it making the path muddy in places. An emergency stop would be tricky.

I stopped to peep out through a gap in the hedgerow, this is looking back up the hill.

This is the view looking directly out, as you can see the fields are pretty brown far and wide.

This is the view looking down towards Linton, the path runs just to the right of the edge of hedgerow on the right of the picture.

This next picture is taken at full zoom, I did wonder if you could see the old farm buildings along the route I was taking, but no. I think that these barns are over at Hadstock Common, it used to be RAF Little Walden. if you zoom in you can see the church to the left and below. The aerial tower to the right of the barns is a basestation, part of the mobile phone network.

The buildings are owned by Fuerst Day Lawson – it started life as a trading company in London in 1884. I mentioned cycle routes via Bowsers earlier, here is one on Bikeley. which is similar to a route I have taken before.

The route takes you past Linton cemetery and onto a one-way system before reaching the main road through the bottom of the village – the A1307. I generally cross using the pedestrian crossing (pushing my bike rather then the pedals). I generally then cycle along to the Grain Store which is where the bridleway is to be found. It is not that obvious since you end up cycling into the Grain Store which signs directing lorry traffic and big silos around. Although just before disappearing into the yard I stopped to take a picture of Linton Water Tower from the A1307, with Rivey Wood around it. 

Next – Do I make it through the grain Store in one piece – well yes of course, otherwise how would I have written this.

Hot smile


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