With the warmer spring weather arriving, I can start to take longer routes to and from work for fun. My favourite way to get between Cambridge and Cottenham is undoubtedly a route I call the Childerley Hall route. A 36km route, about 50% off road.
|Cambridge to Cottenham via Childerley|
(open on bikeroutetoaster)
I love this route for so many reasons.
Firstly it leaves Cambridge right from the centre on a route thats virtually traffic free. Past the Senate House, and down Garret Hostel Lane, and over the Cam looking out for punts on the river. From here its head west past the University Library and eventually on to the Coton Cycle path. Crossing over the M11 reminds you of the world of rush hour traffic.
Leaving Coton brings on a series of straight but enjoyable and undulating bridleways which I take as far as Highfields Caldecote, just short of Cambourne. The main traffic is out here is well, me and some wildlife, flapping or running off into the distance.
A lot of the route is quite bumpy, and probably too much for some, but I have a full suspension mountain bike, and with the Rockshox Reba setup to hare mode, that's fast reacting and undamped suspension, and running 2.1's at at 30psi, the vibrations are mostly smoothed out. My gears were also running totally slick after treating my bike to a new gear cable and outer.
Turning North, a short section of road brings you over the busy A428 where you take the private and empty no through road to Childerley Hall. It is normally here, where I go from Westerly doubling back to Easterly I find that my good speed was wind assisted. Today I find that wasn't the case and find myself now pushing on to see if I can beat my personal best for this route - a sure fire way to ruin a pleasant ride.
Arriving at Childerley Hall, a pleasant oasis in surrounding farmland, you get a glimpse of the Elizabethan House and garden, then turning left at the Grain Store sign post, then right through the lush green cow field.
On the way out of Childeley and towards Lolworth there is a lovely tree lined byway. I have never seen another soul here. Last week I came through in the dark, and the trees look fabulous when uplit.
|Byway between Childerley and Lolworth at rush hour.|
At Lolworth I turn left for the smile inducing downhill through Yarmouth Farm (a rare treat in Cambridgeshire!), and edging hedge lined fields with the distant hum of the A14 to Boxworth Manor. This is another hidden gem. I've never quite worked out if it is open to the public or not, I just enjoy passing through, past the lake and gardens, walls and country cottages.
At the road I don my high visibility vest. The road section to the A14 services roundabout and onto the fast 60mph (or is that 80mph!) road to Swavesey is the only unpleasant part of this ride. This time a group of lycra clad but older roadies were out for a group ride. I wasn't expecting to but I caught and passed them doing 30km/h on my knobblies pushing for my personal best. I couldn't help thinking how I should go slower and have a more pleasant ride next time like them, rather than endure lactose legs and strained lungs.
Just before Swavesey I take the gravel tracks on the right (Tipplers Drove and Uttons Drove), and onto the NCN51. It's a road section but quiet enough. The last section of off road is been Longstanton and Rampton. Sometimes I arrive here feeling tired, but today on an endorphin high and the cherry was cleaning (without putting a foot down) the four tall and awkwardly spaced kerbs of the Guided Busway tracks.
Watching the clock and legs burning I pulled in a 1h27m for the 36km averaging 24.5km/h.
A fabulous way to combine commute, gym and totally stress busting. A hard effort, but it makes future group rides easier and longer and therefore more fun.