Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cambridge to Haslingfield and Back–with some satellite dishes thrown in

Friday, 17th August 2012: Well it was Friday, not five o’ clock, but certainly time to get out and put a few miles on the legs. The inclusion of the time is a passing reference to a TV programme called Crackerjack – check out the bit on catchphrases.

I say miles although for reasons that go back in time I actually measure distance in kilometres on my bike – I am getting ready for full decimalisation.

This ride seemed to be longer that it actually was – around 33Km/ 20 miles. I started off with no real plan and then as I was heading down towards Cherry Hinton I thought I would cycle along the bridleways out of Grantchester which took me down  Cantelupe Road to Haslingfield. I then returned on the Barton Road. Which is closed to through traffic – they are repairing the old railway bridge over the route of the Varsity Line.

There is still a lot of Combining going on and the section of NCN51 between Thorpe Way and the Newmarket Road Park & Ride looked like it had been hit by a dust storm.

NCN51 between Thorpe Road and Newmarket Road P&R

Here is the route of my ride. the Southern Section of the CGB provided an reasonable “escape” route. Whilst wiggle cycle routes through the quieter backstreets are better than nothing they leave a lot to be desired in terms of convenience and speed.

On the route to the Railway Station from the Tins it is pretty wiggle and there are roads to cross and lights to wait for. What most non-cyclists fail to appreciate is that stop-starting on a bicycle uses loads of energy. A bicycle is slow enough without making the journey even slower. (Actually I bet quite a few of the “I cycle and drive” brigade who then comment on how all cyclists are hooligans on wheels don’t actually do enough cycling to get that particular point.) A current bugbear of mine at the moment is just how long some light-controlled crossings make  pedestrians and cyclists wait.

Whilst I am thinking of it the crossing over Ditton lane into Fison Road can take quite a time – and be careful just because the light is red doesn’t mean cars and vans won’t barrel on through. The crossing on Church Road, Quy can also take quite a long time – as well. Indeed it can be so long that you often see people cross when the lights are still green for the non-existent road-users and then the lights turn red stopping the traffic flow for no reason.

Another bugbear of mine is this issue that 20mph speed limits “cannot be policed” and must have traffic calming to do the job. Talk about mixed messages. Mind you “Cambridge bike light crackdown snares more than 100 riders” shows that you don’t need traffic calming to catch cyclists. This scheme does actually encourage cyclists to get lights and avoid the fine – which then allows the Police to avoid the paperwork. The odd thing is that the article mentions that unenforceable laws are bad laws – as if the 20mph speed limit cannot be enforced- but it can if we choose to enforce it.

It does make me think that gradually there will be a separation of road “policing” away from the Police. There is already talk of allowing Councils to fine those who make illegal turns, yellow box violations and driving in cycle lanes. With Councils being short of cash it will also provide a ready source of income and employment. I wish they would stop motor vehicles parking on (or partially on) pavements.

A former county council leader (Cambs) was found guilty of careless cycling however there was no mention of the fact that the car she hit was illegally parked with two wheels on the cycle path. Lets get those fines rolling in and keep motor vehicles on the road – where they belong.

I feel the time has come to evolve the “punishment” for these types of offences. Talking of which I passed a team of people in Community Payback jackets – they might have been picking litter or gardening – I thought it would have been rude to stop and take a picture though

Perhaps those caught speeding in 20mph zones should be given the option of buying a GPS with speed limits programmed in to make it easier to obey the law. Or perhaps they should be forced to utilise GPS systems to monitor their driving behaviour.

The trouble is that the introduction of 20mph speed limits is way too piecemeal and road narrowing brings it own dangers for cyclists. Many motorists try to beat a cyclist, in front of them, to speed cushions ahead, the trouble is they then brake and swerve in as they get there.  It can be quite scary when you are the cyclist.

Why does it matter – well when you mix motor vehicles and cyclists on the same road generally it is the cyclists who come off worst. The severity of the injuries are correlated with the speed of the motor vehicles. Slowing down those motor vehicles therefore will reduce injuries for vulnerable road users. Hopefully this cyclist was not badly injured after his collision with a car.

Map of my route to Haslingfield and back

This was the cause of the dust storm – I waited for it to move on a bit before cycling through. What I wanted to avoid was getting dust in my eyes.

A Dust Storm on NCN51 between Thorpe Road and Newmarket Road P&R

Although it was a short ride and a Friday I found myself pedalling more than photographing.  I was amazed at how many buses there were now the bus stops are along the CGB by the Railway Station.

After all the stopping and starting it was rather pleasant to be on the Southern Section of the CGB – I even saw a few buses using it.  There is quite a bit of construction in the area so presumably it will change.  It seems that the Addenbrooke’s Access Road built to reduce the congestion caused by traffic entering the site from the South has been used to wage war on poor motorists. Enterprising motorists have been using it as a through route but apparently 8,325 of them have received warning letters telling them they have been naughty.

A Councillor has complained that the rules are too complicated and in any case people have paid their tax for this road. Well our taxes paid for the County Council Offices I think I’ll take up residence there. According to the news item only 50 people have actually been fined – so it would appear that motorists aren’t as stupid confused as we might think.

I didn’t go all the way to the end of the CGB and cut across through to the Grantchester Road and then along Bridle Way to the bridleway over the M11. Where I noticed some new public access signs and routes that I had not been on before. Now I must confess that I found the map a little confusing and misread the routes. 

I have since looked at the routes provide by the Trumpington Estate on their website and can where I went wrong. The red footpath blobs looked like bridleway size blobs to me. Mind you the keys are somewhat inconsistent. Here is the Barton and Grantchester map and the Haslingfield map.

To cut a long story short I cycled across from Grantchester to the bridge over the M11 at the top left of the map and followed the route down alongside the right-hand side of the M11 rather than the public bridleway along the left hand side. I then cross the M11 using the footpath where the “you are here” red blob is and then across to the bridleway pointing between the numbers “80” and “160” on the scale bar.

No harm done and I know better now – I will stick to the public bridleway on the other side of the M11. Sorry. I am a little confused still as I am sure that at least one of the footpaths alongside Bourn Brook is marked as a bridleway on the ground (See this link for the ride) – but on second viewing it wasn’t – sorry again.

Trumpington Estate – Permissive Access routes near Grantchester

As I cycled down towards Cantelupe Road the many satellite dishes of the MRAO came into view.  Did I mention I had my long lens with me (100 – 300mm which equates to 200- 600mm on a 35mm camera). There were some interesting buildings peeping out from over the hedge.

MRAO Satellite Dishes

So much sky and so little time – “you look up there and I’ll look over here”.

MRAO Satellite Dishes

After reaching Haslingfield I had no real plan so I started cycling North along the Barton Road. It wasn’t long before I reached a road closed sign. It will be closed from the 19th March to the 18th September 2012 for bridge repairs – although this link will change as it points to current road closures. Here is a link from Barton Parish Council that should not disappear. The bridge will then be able to carry 40 tons loads – oh joy for the residents of Barton.

Fortunately the bridge was open for vulnerable road users. I wonder whether there would be any support for a permanent closure. This picture was taken from the bridge. According to the OSM map it is the MRAO Arcminute Microkelvin Imager (AMI) large array.

Looking down from the Barton road Bridge over the old Varsity Line

And this is the view the other way. It isn’t modern art – just a different form of antenna array.

Looking down from the Barton road Bridge over the old Varsity Line

After that I headed back up to the Wimpole Road and then back into Cambridge along the Barton Cycleway. There are  two large roundabouts to cross on the M11 though. However a cycleway is far better than cycling along that road – in my view.


  1. Awesome photos. May I post them on the hasligfield web pages please? and

    1. Sure - just credit my blog. Thanks