Cambridge to Ely - Retyrement on 2 Wheels 7 - CycleBlaze

April 6, 2023

Cambridge to Ely

Over the fens.

Cambridge to Ely

Over the fens.

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We set off under a lowering sky after a wonderful breakfast from Max and Julia. The route is fairly clear and the first few kilometres are alongside green fields. We are following Sustrans routes 11 and 51.

A squeeze getting out!
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Green Cambridgeshire.
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The first of the thatched cottages we are to see throughout the day put in an appearance. The thatcher’s ‘signature’ along the ridge is quite distinctive.

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After a short spell when the cycle route runs alongside a busy road, we reach Botisham where I persuade Ann that we need coffee and since the Co-op is the only source in town I opt for two Americanos. This is a mistake. One of us is distinctly underwhelmed. 

The underwhelming Americano.
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From here we enter what really feels like fen country - the landscape of shifting light, making a crossing place between worlds. It’s a place of the Will o the Wisp and sea sprites. There’s also a large body of literature set in the area- Graham Swift’s Waterland, Hartley’s ‘The Go Between’ with it’s often quoted opening line, and several of Dicken’s books, just to name a few.
Today we cycle across a landscape bisected by waterways, where acres of land are freshly turned, ready for planting and fields where sheep, highland cattle and seemingly wild horses graze. It’s a little like the Camargue, only we can hear many more birds than we did there.

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The skater, the eel catcher and the peat digger.
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A wild and lonely place.
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Graham FinchThis is very Graham Swift-like
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11 months ago
Michael HutchingTo Graham FinchYes, Waterland - very evocative of mystery and superstition .
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11 months ago
Alicja GindersBeautiful photo
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10 months ago
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Fen Ponies
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Highland Cattle far from home.
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At one point we reach a high bridge with steps, and guide rails for a bike’s wheels, where it  seems as though we will have to remove our panniers to get our bikes over. But no! There suddenly appear two ‘older’ chaps, one a local, the other Irish, who help us manage our bikes across. After we help them with their bikes. It is, in fact, quite a hazardous exercise for laden bikes, as the rails are at a steep angle. We part, with cheery words, wish each other ‘Bonne route’.

Team effort.
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We stop for lunch at an environmental centre, where there’s a cafe and a shop hiring bikes. After this it’s on to Ely and simply a matter of following the Sustrans signs until the wonderful cathedral appears on the horizon. 

Picnic Lunch.
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English equivalent of NZ Swamp Kauri.
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We follow a large waterway, the River Ouse, on the way into Ely and reach a mooring point for a large number of barges. Here we stop for a beer at the pub looking over this barge hub. Our mooring pint you might say.

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Sand! Fortunately it’s well compacted and reasonably easy for cycling.
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Ely Cathedral on the horizon.
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Graham FinchI had lunch sat outside that pub!
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11 months ago
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Graham FinchYou, too!
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11 months ago
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We cycle through the park beside the cathedral- quite massive in size and comprising different styles. On Lynn Road we find the cosy Airbnb we’ve booked and settle in after depositing our bikes in the garage.

Today's ride: 48 km (30 miles)
Total: 63 km (39 miles)

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Tricia GrahamGreat that you are back on your cycling adventures. We intend going in early July it seems so long since we had. European cycle trip which was pre Covid
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1 year ago
Scott AndersonWe’ll enjoy all of this I’m sure, but for now it’s great to see the fens again. We stayed in Ely and Bury for several days each and were delighted by the region. I think I remember that bridge!

And thanks for reminding me about Waterlands, a novel I read probably 20 years ago before I knew what the fens were. I’ll have to reread it with a different eye.
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1 year ago
Michael HutchingTo Tricia GrahamJuly might be a sensible month to avoid some of these blasts from the Baltic Trish! Good luck with your planning, Michael & Ann
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1 year ago
Michael HutchingTo Scott AndersonHave been following your Italian trip and previous Provence trip for some pointers Scott. Sounded really interesting. The bike lifting on the bridge was a truly a case of international cooperation!
Cheers, Michael
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1 year ago