Thursday, 31 March 2016

31 Mar: Thursday ride to Cottenham and Ely

Edward writes: After a long wait we finally had the prospect of a fine, sunny day with temperatures above that of many recent days. It was cold overnight at about zero or one degree centigrade but at 9:30am the sun was shining and at Haslingfield Green eighteen riders assembled - the Brookside start had seven. Interestingly twenty-five was the number Cottenham Community Centre was told to expect but, of course, this wouldn’t take into account those riding out independently. Our leader today was John Seton for this ride out into the Fens to Cottenham and Ely.

Approaching Comberton

With eighteen riders we set off in two groups of nine with the second group following on some minutes after the first group left. This took us out to Harlton where we turned right into Washpit Lane which took us up to the A603 and onto the road into Comberton. The breeze, although it was never a feature of the day, was in the north and thus slightly cool as we rode into it. At the junction in Comberton we crossed straight over to join the appropriately named Long Road that climbs all the way up to Hardwick. We went down into Madingley, Dry Drayton, over the A14 into Oakington.

Dry Drayton

It was when we reached Oakington that the tactics went a little awry as the first group had evidently taken the road through the former airfield to Longstanton where they would join the busway. The second group went through Oakington to the busway and then headed to Longstanton. About halfway along we had the unusual experience of the two groups passing one another. John, with the first group later turned off the busway onto a track which leads to Rampton whilst the second group, once it had reached Longstanton, made its way to Willingham and then Rampton. So now everybody was back on the same route as we finally arrived in Cottenham for our coffee break, all of us before 11.15am.

Needless to say there were many who arrived independently and with so many people moving around it’s difficult to say how many exactly, but certainly in excess of thirty. We had a nice break at the Community Centre; it has very pleasant staff and is a popular stop for us.

By 11.45 am everybody was on the way again with three groups, four if you count Adrian and Richard M who took an off-road route via Long Drove. All others went along Twenty Pence Road for five miles northwards to Wilburton, and a sign of Spring as the fields of oil seed rape are now coming into flower; in a week or two it will all be a sea of yellow.

Grunty Fen, Wilburton

Grunty Fen, Wentworth

After Wilburton we went across Grunty Fen to Wentworth and the A142. When we had crossed this road we headed towards Coveney which rises above the surrounding Fen and can be seen from a long way out. Coveney was a prearranged regrouping point and this gave some the opportunity to take a slightly longer route to Ely via Little Downham, whilst two sub groups took a more direct route which for the four remaining miles always had the benefit of a view out to the Cathedral.


We do not have a fixed lunch spot in Ely so groups spread themselves around: fish and chips were popular, also sitting by the river with a packed lunch and The Cutter on the riverside. The sun was really making an effort today and for those by the river it was particularly pleasant and it was noticeable how busy the railway is with hardly a minute or two without a passing train, either passenger or freight.

Approaching Ely

By 2.30pm we were all under way again; some had left to go towards St Ives, and John led the main group and Rupert led a smaller number back to Cambridge. We left Ely alongside the river on the track called Fen River Way to Padney, Barway and Wicken and joined the A1123 for a few hundred metres up to the turning to Upware and a ride along the Lodes Way across Swaffham Prior Fen and Bottisham Fen.

Lodes Way

This took us to Lode, but just before the village we stopped at a little farm shop selling takeaway coffee and tea. This was fortunate for some but the machine broke down before the last two could be served, so they went without! It was no problem as we were close to finishing our ride which took us along the main road to Stow-cum-Quy, up to the turning for Fen Ditton where our group broke up to go their separate ways.


As usual our thanks to John for our ride which was a splendid day out, lovely weather and almost everybody would have had 60 miles under their belts. Edward Elmer

Download GPS track (GPX).


  1. Thanks for this nice write-up Edward. The village starts only work with the numbers of people involved because others are willing to lead the other half of the group on the day. So, at least half the thanks for the ride from Haslingfield yesterday are due to Mick Cousins, who was willing to lead the other half of the ride, and allow it to go ahead so everyone was able to ride in a group that was not too big. John S

  2. Thanks John. I usually try to acknowledge others who have helped with the ride but somehow omitted it from this ride. Thanks for a good day.