Sunday, 16 August 2009

16 Aug: Afternoon ride to Great Wilbraham

I counted eleven riders at Brookside at the start of this afternoon's ride but no sooner had we started than some latecomers arrived and we were fifteen, making this probably the biggest Sunday afternoon ride this year. As might well be expected for a hot, Sunny afternoon in August.

Our leader today was Gareth. Since our tea stop today was to be in Great Wilbraham, only a few miles from Cambridge, there was no need to rush off to cover long distances and instead Gareth took us on an unusual and most interesting route along some unfamiliar roads and tracks close to home.

Gareth led us across Parker's Piece and onto Midsummer Common. After following the south side of the river for a few minutes we crossed over the new cycle bridge and through Chesterton before returning to the river by the Penny Ferry pub. Here we joined the riverside path which we followed all the way to Bait's Bite Lock near Milton.

At the lock (photos above) we crossed over the river, carrying our bikes up the steps at the footbridge, and followed the path east which widens to an elegant avenue leading us up to the main Horningsea Road (note that this is not a right of way). I thought for a moment that we were going to have to ride along this busy road but no, Gareth led us straight across onto a further path (technically a byway) which continued east for about a mile before turning south to drop us down to High Ditch Road. On the way we crossed the dismantled railway (which we wished was legal to ride on) and over the bridge (photo below) across the A14.

View this GPS track in a larger map

It was nice to be back on tarmac. We continued east to Quy and along the cycle path beside the A1303 before turning left to Bottisham and left again to Lode.

We rode through the village of Lode. A mile beyond the village we turned right onto White Fen Droveway, nice and smooth with a new tarmac surface. After a short while this turned into a less smooth but perfectly acceptable new path (below) across White Fen (now owned by the National Trust) and the new cycle bridge over Bottisham Lode.

From there we followed a series of tiny fen roads for a couple of miles. We could have followed these roads all the way to Reach but in the spirit of exploration Gareth took us along a section of bumpy but dry byway (below) for about a mile. This was quite rough and slowed us down somewhat but before long we were in the village of Reach. This path was well worth trying out but next time we would probably stay on the road.

View this GPS track in a larger map

From Reach the route was all on tarmac (probably to our relief at this stage), back through the Swaffhams and Bottisham before crossing over the A1303 to the Wilbrahams.

At Great Wilbraham we rode through the elegant grounds of Wilbraham Temple before stopping for tea at Stable Cottage.

At tea we met Geoff our host and several others who had made their own way there. After a few minutes the day ride arrived, making this easily the largest tea stop of the year. And no wonder, since Geoff and Pam had laid out a fine and substantial tea for us, which we enjoyed sitting out in the sun. Many thanks to Geoff and family for providing a lovely meal.

After tea we split into a number of groups. Gareth took one group north towards Waterbeach (and a few extra miles) whilst I led another group directly home to Cambridge via Fulbourn, Cherry Hinton, and the newly-resurfaced Tins path to Mill Road, arriving back home by 7pm. Total distance: 35 miles.

View this GPS track on a larger map

Photos 1,4,5,6 and 7 by Gareth Rees. Licence: Creative Commons CC-BY-SA v2.0


  1. the path east which widens to an elegant avenue leading us up to the main Horningsea Road (note that this is not a right of way)

    My goodness, you're right. The right of way goes straight on whereas the road turns right past Biggin Abbey.

    I thought I had checked the whole route for rights of way (I don't mind a bit of trespassing myself, but I didn't want to get the club into trouble), but I missed this section.

    The Ordnance Survey don't distinguish between public and private roads, and Cambridgeshire County Council don't seem to systematically record permissive rights of way. So on country lanes it's impossible to be sure that you have a right of way.

    I wonder if it's even worth bothering?

  2. Yes, a member emailed me directly to point this out, so I added that parenthesis to help any reader who follows us.