Sunday, July 27, 2014

My New Favourite Bridleway (sort of).

Sunday, 4th May 2014: I enjoyed the morning’s walk from Wandlebury to Stapleford and back that I reckoned I’d better try out the  “new” Stapleford bridleway on my bicycle as well.

As I was on my own I was also able to take more pictures, when walking with my wife I sometimes detect a minor level of impatience if I stop and take too many pictures. Whereas Maisie (my Marin bicycle) waits patiently under all circumstances. (Hint that means this post has more pictures than the previous one.)

Here is the Bike Route toaster link to the route I took. It was a nice day so I went a little further than the morning walk, which is why I favour cycling over walking.  I have shown the loop starting/finishing from the Newmarket Road/Airport Cycleway. My general assumption is that you would cycle there. Although there is the Park and Ride Car park just up the road. It used to be free, but the Cambridgeshire County Council in their wisdom have introduced a £1 charge – “Cambridge park and ride charge queues prompt anger”.

Actually that charge is for up to 18 hours, then it is £10 for 18 – 24 hours, £20 for 24 – 48 hours and £0 for 48 – 72 hours (the maximum permitted stay).  The idea is that it costs money to provide the park and ride facilities and so they need to be charged for. Rather than keep it simple and up the cost of a bus ticket there is a separate charge. This requires additional monitoring equipment and payment facilities  which all cost money. It would seem that such is the ire of our esteemed councillors that some people might “park and cycle” or “park and walk” that the simple solution was ditched in favour of a more complex solution.

The trouble is getting to work on a regular basis is an activity that takes time. So you try to minimise the time wasted. Every time you have to switch from one form of transport to another adds to the time wasted. Adding extra steps into the process adds to the waste.

The cost of a standard P&R return ticket was £3, now users will pay £2.70 + £1.00 – that looks like a 23.3% increase so a single occupant P&Rer. Phew – greedy or what?

Back to the ride, it is a little over 52Km/32miles and goes up in the middle, which is how I like my rides. Gently undulating hills make for good scenery and cycling.

As I cycled out towards Stapleford, first there was Airport Cycleway, in the general scheme of things it is one of the better shared-use paths in the area. It is wider than many paths although not that wide. It also doesn’t have lets of side roads/entrances along the bit into Cherry Hinton.  Apart from one of two places where plane-spotters park to watch planes and sometimes partially block the shared-use path. 

When you get to Cherry Hinton there are two choices, take the direct round through Cherry Hinton (High Street) or take the by-pass (Gazelle Way). I went for the direct route, although I find the traffic calming anything but calming for a bicycle. The cycle route involves bumping over various “dropped” kerbs, being channelled into high-kerbed “alleys” and heading down the door zone. I am amazed it ever got built.  Apparently there are going to be improvements – but there is anger over the slow pace.

I can’t say I really like Queen Edith’s Way for cycling either. The pavements on either side seem to be shared-use although the signage isn't that brilliant. But the paths have lots of exits/entrances and are busy with people, yet motorists seem to think that cyclists don’t belong on the road. I usually cycle through the estate to get across to Red Cross Lane and join NCN11 at Addenbrookes.

The is a view of the hills rolling away from NCN11 somewhere between Addenbrookes and Shelford.

A View from a Cycle Path – NCN11 near Addenbrookes

The Map of my Ride

I rather like the name of the road – Mingle Lane. Now I wondered whether this was another name for Lovers Lane – except here they Mingled.  Apparently not – it is apparently so named because it is here that the parishes of Stapleford and Shelford mingle.

Mingle Lane, Stapleford

Stapleford Granary – where the bridleway starts

It is official, there is the bridleway sign.

Stapleford to Babraham Bridleway

Although on the other side is a sign from when it was “just” a footpath – FOOTPATH ONLY No bikes horses or vehicles.  Clearly someone didn’t like cyclists and horses.

Stapleford to Babraham Footpath Bridleway

I have to admit this path has been a bit of a magnet for me since I discovered it. It is a nice path and very quickly you feel that you are away from the unpleasantries of the infernal combustion engine.  It was probably also helped because although the path is not that long (4Km.2.5niles) you go through several different changes of scene/track.

Stapleford to Babraham Bridleway

A little way along the bridleway is a Dutch barn, at least that is what we used to call the barn near  where I grew up in Somerset.

Stapleford to Babraham Bridleway

Oil seed rape is the crop to grow around here.

Stapleford to Babraham Bridleway

Wadlow Wind Farm over the Hill

As you approach the Granta the track becomes more of a single-track, with a new bridge over and a ford alongside. Then the bro9dleway opens out and becomes Rowley lane. Although on the old 25K map is appears to be called Love Lane. Perhaps they mingled in Stapleford and then Love developed in Babraham on their way to the church,

Rowley Lane

Babraham Hall (Babraham Institute) from Rowley Lane

I cycled through Babraham and then crossed the unpleasantly busy A1307. It seems odd to me that in the name of progress busy roads are made even busier, with little regard for those that live along them to join the very same road. Although the Babraham Institute managed to wangle a roundabout for their junction with the A1307.

Once I’d crossed the road my plan was to cycle along the Roman Road from Worsted Lodge. I once got chased by a dog when cycling along here – it had gotten from from a garden. Sustainable energy generation in action – sun and wind.

Chalkhill Farm (according to the map) – Solar power

Another of my favourite, places to ride near Cambridge – Worsted Street. Sometimes it is wide.

Worsted Street

And other times narrow.

Worsted Street

And sometimes triple-track.

Worsted Street

A random picture of a helicopter above Balsham

Wadlow Wind Farm, near Balsham

I think that is the Balsham Church just peeing out over the trees.

The Bridleway between Balsham and Grange Road – more triple track

I generally find the middle track to be the easiest – it is narrower, but less shall and not encroached by the hedgerows.

The Bridleway between Balsham and Grange Road

This is another byway I like, partly because it it not too short and partly because it rolls.

The Bridleway between Balsham and Grange Road

May Blossom

I could have taken of more off-road route but I was a wee bit tired, what with the walk in the morning and all. So I cycled back by road. Which took me past Dullingham Railway Station.

See the “Discover Cambridge by Train this Winter” poster. Is that from last year or very advanced planning? Who knows, but what I can tell you is the poster is an Ann Reekie design. It certainly caught my eye. Although at first I though it was an offer for cyclists.

Dullingham Railway Station

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