The Cambridgeshire Alps

Posted by on 17, Apr 2021 in 2021 - Ipswich to Scotland, Tandems, UK

The Cambridgeshire Alps

Day two started bright and sunny and we hurtled along BMW alley to get off the stretch as soon as possible and on to some quieter back roads.

Mission accomplished but the worrying thing was despite us alledgely heading to Scotland the signs for London kept getting nearer…

Eventually we turned North and headed over the Cambridge Castle Camps ‘Pass’.

I say ‘pass’ as we are, as many will know, Hill Averse and our route somehow managed to pick the highest point in Cambridgeshire for us to traverss, all 128m of it! OK, we’re officially wimps and God knows how we will cope with the real hills of Scotland but that’s for our future selves to worry about.

Oddly it was a bit pass like with a long steady ride to the ‘summit’, cold and windy up top with few trees (possibly the result of an old RAF base being there) and then a wonderful long roll down.

Having successfully navigated the Cambridgshire Alps we sought out a church to celebrate this fact by stopping for lunch in the graveyard. Don’t knock it – East Anglia is full of gorgeous churches with sheltered benches just waiting for the tired cyclist to have lunch on! This one was Norman, obviously not its name for any Americans reading, and quite peaceful and beautiful.

The weather then decided it had been far too kind in lavishing sunshine on us and thought lots of cloud and a strong wind into our faces would wipe the smiles off them.

We both layered up and still were a wee bit chilly but by the time we hit Mini Holland and the smooth glass like cycle tracks around Cambridge we didn’t care. What a shock those are after navigating miles of British back roads which frequently house puddles that may or may not contain Jules Vernes entrance for the Jorney to the centre of the earth guys.

Car drivers may not understand why we cyclists wobble so much, well apart from the drink, obviously, the edge of the road, which we enhabit is home to so many cracks and pot holes that if you don’t weeve about like a North Atlantic convoy in the war you’ll end up disappearing into a wet muddy hole. You do not want to hit one of those, especially on the tandem as the ‘feedback’ from Linda when we do is never positive and frequently involves a hand and my ear.

So, smooth tarmac, right of way over oncoming roads into the cycle lane (which is very disconcerting for us as we never really believe a car will stop for a cycle lane as they don’t have to do that anywhere else in the UK) the flatness of Cambridge and dozens of cyclists was our nice easy cycle to our garden shed for the night.

The shed was very nice but ‘cosy.’ Meaning Linda got to do a jigsaw puzzle of how to fit us and the panniers inside whilst leaving us enough floorspace to actually get out again! Clean, warm and comfy bed though.

We headed into Cambridge, passing Astra Zeneca, which rather unsurpsingly was a huddle of portakabins and builders. Perhaps that explains the countless blunders they’ve encountered during the development of their vaccine. Maybe Bob The Builder has been doing their PR.

The route in was along yet more wonderfully European cycle tracks and arrived in an almost deserted city centre without the gazillions of tourists who usually make cycling through it extremely tricky on a fully loaded tandem.

Being able to gaze at the gorgeous buildings without having to dodge all the hordes of people who usually wander across the road whilst filming all the sites on their phones was heaven. So much so we went round it twice and stopped outside one college for a coffee.

It was extremely chilly weather – about 7C, so the piping hot coffee was very welcome though the server, despite giving every appearance of being a student, including posh accent, managed to mix up the decaf and normal coffee which I would pay for later when I was lying awake in bed thinking about how time travelling aliens that had been almost entirely wiped out by humanity could travel back in time to gently alter the past to prevent the future…. I always know when I’ve been caffeinated!

As we sat there gazing at St John’s College Chapel wrapped in our thermals, fleece, two coats, scarf, hat, ear warmers and gloves the most eye catching thing was the Hardy British guys in shorts. Why? Its 7C! There was heavy overnight frost and they gritted overnight, so why shorts? I know we had a couple of days a few weeks ago where it got into the mid 20’s, but do they remain in shorts now come what may until Bonfire night or something? And don’t get me started on the flip flops…..

With us both chuntering away about ‘the shorts brigade’ and attracting a few concerned glances from the odd pedestrian we stumbled across a quite wonderful sculpture in Girton commemorating the fact the village made nearly all the quills for the university Town.

Our journey on took us along the guided bus roadway from Cambridge to St Ives which has a wide smooth cycle track alongside nearly the whole way. It’s a very pleasant cycle, but quite disconcerting to see a bus hurtle past you with the driver busy on his phone. There’s no need to steer these buses as they fit in a track a bit like those cars at Blackpool pleasure Beach that hasn’t stopped quite a few of them ending up in the hedges though.

They go a damn site quicker than we do too, so dozens of them passed us on our route to the lovely little town of St Ives right on the Great Ouse, which is quite a large river at that point. The docks almost felt like Holland complete with a gable ended house, cafe and tables and chairs on the Quay. Lovely.

We stayed in an old houses near St Ives, in the attic, the servants quarters, so had to lug our panniers up 2 flights of stairs, but the rooms were worth it and as I would spend most of the night wandering around pondering the Alien question it was nice to have a large sofa to ponder away on.

Leaving St Ives behind the route became more bleak and far less interesting with us for some unknown reason staying on top of an escarpment for most of the afternoon as we peddled on toward Peterborough.

There really wasn’t anything interesting to see for most of the day which explains the absence of benches and churches but as we descended from the escarpment toward Peterborough things got more interesting in a disheartening way.

I’m not sure if the department of transport is run by a cycle hating moron or not but whoever made our cycle route go over a bridge to cross a railway with 3 lots of stairs and bike channel to push your bike up that was so steep it took Linda and I all our effort to get Tilly unladen up it certainly needs there heads examining or better still they need to push Tilly up the bridge ramp.

We arrived at our Airbnb in Pererborough for the night and a day off on Saturday to find it was a two storey ultra modern and funky setup. Two TV’s a digital shower, remote controls for the lights, purple feature lighting and a huge sofa that we could both sprawl on and stuff our faces with Pizza… Result.

One Comment

  1. Hi … a few “hills” in Scotland are .let than 120 metres high …. but you know that! Great entertaining read! ????

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