Saturday, 3rd December: A quick recap my plan was to cycle through Dry Drayton and check it out a bridleway through to Childerley, then if it looked too much like hard work I was going to take the cycle way through to Bar Hill and up to Lolworth. In the event I took the route I planned. Here is the Bike Route Toaster Link, it is just over 50Km / 32 miles long and reaches the dizzy heights of 70m above sea level.
Although I have cycled many of the lanes here before it did take one byway that I had not cycled along before – Thorofare Lane, which passed Thorofare Spinney. It is marked on the map as “unexplored bit”. In this survey – “Millennium Survey of Paths in South Cambridgeshire” - it is path number 8 and its use is noted as "Quite frequent by walkers and riders (too wet for cyclists)…”. Whilst looking for references to the byway I found a Wikipedia article which mentioned the use of descriptive street names being normal practice in medieval times. If you are interested here is the link – it refers to a street used for prostitution so is probably NSFW, but ultimately is etymological in content.
Before moving on I ought to just mention that BHDDMADCYCLE website where the parish Councils of Bar Hill, Dry Drayton Madingley and Coton have joined forces to (attempt to)develop a cycle path to connect existing cycle paths. Here is a link to their April 2011 map. It is great to see some enthusiasm for such activity, but a little dispiriting how long these things take.
There are certainly some interesting names in this part of the world after passing Bird’s Pastures Farm, Battlegate, Dundry and Extra Farm. Dundry is a name I know from my childhood growing up in the Mendips and is the name of a village near Bristol. The Wikipedia link suggests that Dundry means the Hill that is dry from the Old English “dun and dryge”. On the OS map Dundry does appear to be at one of the higher spots – 67m.
Here is Thorofare Lane – it appears to be a pretty decent track certainly better than many I have cycled along.
As I might have mentioned before, once I stopped looking for Spindle I started seeing more of it. This ride was no exception – here are the distinctive pink berries of some Spindle growing along Thorofare Lane. According to the link the 4-lobed fruits turn deep-pink in autumn and later open to expose four bright orange seeds. I must keep a look out for that.
This is the other end of Thorofare Lane – it wasn’t all quite as good as the track earlier – but it was quite cycle-able on my hybrid. Although the footpath report I linked to earlier did suggest it might get wetter at times. The signpost points out that it is a Public Byway – Thorofare Lane to Battlegate Road (half mile) and Childerley.
There is also a Pathfinder sticker on the pole.
However on the other side of the lane is a much more obvious Pathfinder March sign.
The lane ends up in Knapwell a rather nice village, it is named after chalybeate Red Well in a nearby wood apparently. No this dilapidated building is not Knapwell – just a structure in a field alongside the road on my way up to Conington.
After Connington I reached outer Fenstanton – or rather the bit of Fenstanton that is isolated from the main bit by the A14. It used to be that main routes passed through settlements. Indeed those settlements would have provided service from travellers and gained economic benefit. However as horse gave way to motor vehicle the distance and volume of “travellers” grew. So we have a situation in which bypasses were build for towns and villages to cut the through traffic. This seems to be a case where the road, now called the A14 did slightly by-pass the village of Fenstanton, you can see a slight kink on the map. But as the A14 became a more important route the houses to the west became more isolated.
This is a picture of West End Road – which on the 1930s OS map was a small road that directly connected with the main road. It doesn’t any more – the grass along the middle of the road is a bit of a giveaway.
Strangely it reaches the A14 where you see a “Public Bridleway” signpost. No I didn’t lift my bike over and try to cross the road. I am not the only one who has cycled along here and wondered about this dead end. A Cycle Seven post – Two Bushes and a Bogey has a similar picture. Although in my picture the brambles have been cut back.
Instead I cycled back to Hilton Road and then to an underpass – this is on the main village side. The Cycle Seven link does have a picture of the tunnel itself. The village’s map of footpaths doesn’t show a route across at West End |Road or the underpass either. The Cambridgeshire County Council Website (Rights of way) does show the merest smidgen of bridleway at the end of West End Road, but stopping at the A14 – how weird.
After passing under the subway I did stop at a shop to buy a sandwich for lunch and I had already packed a few jelly babies for dessert. When I reached the Low Road/Harrison Way roundabout a car stopped to let me cross – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – that is not a nice place to cross the road.
I cycled through St Ives and then crossed Harrison Way again, this time on the CGB (Cambridge Guided Busway) route. Apparently the response time for pedestrians pressing the cross button was speeded up. However in my experience this is a dangerous crossing still, even with light control, I have seen cars speed up when they see me about to push the crossing button and this time a car went through on red. A car running a red light is a lot scarier than a cyclist. The issue has reached the Hunts Post, some drivers just don’t want to be held up by any other road user – lorry, bus, cyclist or pedestrian.
I had my picnic in the St Ives P&R, which as you can see was busy. I wonder how many of these cars are CGB users and how many use it as a convenient car park? In Cambridge there is going to be a charge for Cambridge’s busiest park and ride site – targeting motorists who leave their cars but do not get the bus. According to the article there are people who park at the Babraham Road P&R and then walk or cycle into Addenbrooke’s Hospital. It costs quite a lot to put in the controls so this charge will not spread to the other car parks at least not immediately.
As an indication of just how car-centric we are as a society Addenbrooke’s is seeking planning permission for a 1,200 space car park. But there will not be any provision for cycle parking. (They come later – now where have I heard that before.) Now this is the same NHS that tells us to exercise more, cycle to work even – do they not realise that they speak with forked tongue.
One of the benefits that users of the CGB get – whether it be on the cycle way or the busway is sun beautiful views of the sun setting over the Fen Drayton lakes.
Although I am not quite sure why I have two similar pictures of that sun shining through the clouds.
As I have mentioned before there are loads of small walls alongside the CGB – like this one. A search of the trusty web shows that the information is available on a website I subscribe to “Travelling the Cambridgeshire guided busway”. They are Art Installations and the words on the bricks relate to the busway. According to this link – “Cambridgeshire guided busway dotted with art” they are by an artist – Jo Roberts and are “Busway bricks for the Guided Busway”. (I wonder if it is this Jo Roberts?) In case you were wondering and eve if you weren’t – some of the words; drain, you r here, busway, meridian, Jo Roberts, Swavesey and barges.
I often moan about the lack of decent cycle parking at the Cambridge Railway station. Well apparently a protest is mooted. If every cyclist chose to drive to the station and park there early quite a number of car drivers would quickly realise that more cyclists on the road mean less congestion and (paradoxically) more parking spaces. One more bike means one less car! The beauty of such an approach, well it would be perfectly legitimate, civil obedience even, and might even help car drivers see how they benefit from other people cycling.
I was pleased to see that along the route the cycle parks are being used, although here at Swavesey there already seems to be cycle overspill (I think it is Swavesey – but am not 100% sure. With two bikes locked to the lamppost and one to the fence. This is great news – it shows that the CGB can not only reduce unnecessary car journeys on the main roads but also in the villages.
In my view it also shows that high-quality routes are what attract users. here is an interesting piece in the Guardian with a discussion on “Bristol’s Railway Path is becoming a victim of its own success”. Now it is a good path by UK standards, but that just shows how low our standards are. Our paths are more like non motor-vehicle linear “ghettos”. The path’s over-popularity is a measure of its utility – the solution we need more such paths to be built with better segregation between cyclists and walkers.
The Longstanton passenger building also got a ceremonial opening – Building sets a new shade of green. £430,000 is quite a bit of green!
Before I venture of the busway another driver has driven their car onto the busway - “sun in my eyes”. Perhaps that is why cyclists feel safer segregated from car drivers – the classic SMIDSTB.
Although I set out early and didn’t need my lights there has been the traditional crackdown in Cambridge – “Dozens of cyclists caught in Cambridge with no lights” and, quite rightly the stance has been backed by the City cycling campaigners. As someone who cycles at night my safety is compromised by cyclists not using lights. However my safety is compromised more by speeding motorists and parking in mandatory cycle lanes and so as noted in the article cyclists would also like to see Police address those issues.
In that vein I was pleased to see that there will be a “Crackdown to enforce Mill Road 20mph limit”. Although personally I am not convinced that “crackdowns” are the answer – they sound more like newspaper headline speak. I’d rather see a more general adherence to the rule of law – whether it be cyclists and lights or cars and speeding (or limited access roads).
One bugbear of mine is when you see drivers using non-hands free mobile phones. A number that has increased.
Here is the Cam from the Green Dragon Bridge – pretty still. Although Rowers make waves over plans to raise fees. Apparently there is a £50,000 annual shortfall, but the study cost £27,000 to carry out!!! That seems to be a case of it being easy to spend other people’s money.
And finally some picture links – some interesting use of perspective and small apertures to increase the depth of field – “Why size doesn’t matter”. Some stunning pictures of the British landscape. I like the frost-dusted trees. Some daytime fireworks, using 8,000 shells.