There was a definite end of summer feel to the weather on this August Bank Holiday weekend: dry but cool, and a brisk wind. With tea not too far away at Wicken Fen, our leader Jacob said that today's ride would be a bit of a "pootle".
After leaving Brookside, Jacob led us across Parker's Piece along the familiar route towards the river. However, to our surprise, he then took us down Melbourne Place and round the back of the Grafton Centre before crossing Newmarket Road and taking us onto Midsummer Common.
After following the river for a short distance we reached the Green Dragon bridge, where we crossed over and switched to the path along the north side of the river which we followed to Bait's Bite Lock and beyond it to Clayhithe. Here we joined the road and turned back towards Cambridge for a short distance before turning off onto a bridleway towards Lode, in an interesting alternative to the route that we took on 16th August. The bridleway had a rather loose gravel surface but was otherwise perfectly cycleable.
After a while we crossed the old railway line to Mildenhall which we followed to Lode. This section of railway line is owned by the National Trust and is a permissive footpath, though we know the NT want to develop this route as a cycle route.
When we reached Lode we turned left towards the fens. After a short while we turned right into White Fen Drove. This took us onto White Fen proper and the bridge over Bottisham Lode that we visited earlier this month. After crossing the lode we followed the road north to Upware.
A few miles north of Upware we reached the A1123. However, instead of turning right towards Wicken, Jacob took us onto a short section of rough bridleway that took us onto the road (part of NCR 11) that runs parallel to it. This took us east to Wicken.
At Wicken Fen we stopped at the cafe, where we met George and some others who had arrived by car, and sat outside eating rather overpriced tea and cakes whilst swatting away the wasps.
After tea we headed back to Cambridge, into quite a fierce headwind. We followed NCR 11 back to Burwell before joining the B1102 road to Swaffhams Prior and Bulbeck. From there Jacob and Mike continued along the main road to Lode and Quy whilst I led a small breakaway group along the longer but quieter route via Bottisham. We were back in Cambridge at about 6.45pm, with a total mileage a relatively modest 35 miles.
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