London to Cambridge - Retyrement on 2 Wheels 7 - CycleBlaze

April 5, 2023

London to Cambridge

Town and Gown and Pedaling  Around

London to Cambridge

Town and Gown and Pedaling  Around

April 5

The plan for the day is a brisk pedal of a few kilometres to Orpington Station, a train ride to Cannon Street Station, more pedalling to Liverpool Street Station, to catch a train to Cambridge. All of this goes pretty much to plan, even the negotiating of a number of lifts. 

Off on The Rebellion Way!
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Bikes aboard.
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The ride to Orpington station is along the A road that has a fairly perfunctory cycle lane. We seem to be the only users of it. I express the view that cyclists are more tolerated than encouraged in the UK, but Ann tells me I’m making a gross generalisation- which is true but there are reasons.

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 Just before the station we have to pass through a narrow tunnel where the road starts to run uphill. The combination of these two factors forces me to extend my arm to indicate that I’m taking the lane. As I gasp and heave my way to the top of the incline, I go for broke and indicate to the line of cars behind me that I’m turning right. l’m tolerated.

We make the station, find the lift, find the correct platform and board easily with our bikes, as the carriage is almost level with the platform and the attendants don’t seem to bothered about how many bikes are aboard, although there’s supposed to be a limit of  four. 

At Cannon Street Station we enjoy some hectic inner city cycling to Liverpool Street Station. Ann has just finished telling me how wonderful the small lanes are for cyclists, when a van enters from the other end and with a merry wave the driver ‘takes the lane’.

Plotting the route.
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A glimpse of St Paul’s.
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Queue for the lift.
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Good bike space on Cambridge train.
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Liverpool St Station has one lift only and we wait in a queue as the minutes to 11:28am tick away. Finally we’re boarded with 5 minutes to spare. We secure our bikes and relax.
Except we can’t quite relax, as a chap boards, sits down nearby and proceeds with a reenactment of what sounds like an intense TV  style drama role play centred on Russia’s war with Ukraine, with him acting several roles and doing all the voices. And all the accents. It’s quite a performance and it makes sense- sort of.

In Cambridge we alight and restore ourselves with a coffee and  eat our sandwiches. The sun is making a watery appearance, though the wind is chilly. Cambridge is one of the more cycle friendly cities we’ve come across in the UK with a reasonable range of cycle paths in the centre and through the parks and along the Cam River. So begins a fairly random, leisurely exploration, of which, one of the highlights, is the punters, propelling enthused but chilled (literally) passengers up and down the Cam. It must be warm work because most of the punters are in tee shirts.

Arrival in Cambridge.
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Touring with a full load.
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The ubiquitous dafs.
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Taking a punt on the Cam.
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Following this we approach an old church on a slight hill and here are enticed into St Giles with the promise of  tea and buns. We lean our bikes against the ancient walls and indulge  in what appears to be a cup of real leaf tea. It’s rejuvenating. Amanda, a diminutive woman approaches and gives us a run down on the church’s history and its present day function. She’s enthusiastic and a font of knowledge. At one point Ann tells her that we’re from NZ and cycle touring but she barely pauses in her animated delivery to take this in.

St Giles.
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We ride further out of the main centre towards Girton College but don’t make it, as we are distracted by a sign to a church and cemetery down a long drive. Here we find a couple of interesting graves- one of Charles Darwin’s son Horace and wife Ida with a memorial note to their son Erasmus killed at Ypres in 1915. The other is of a young maharaja who came from India to study at Cambridge but died young at age 23.

We return to find our Warmshowers accommodation via the historic centre and reminisce about how we visited here soon after we first met, to celebrate a graduation. We remember dining in halls and the ceremony, but very little about what we ate. It was probably the usual student fare- sausage and mash.

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King’s College and structure seen across Europe- scaffolding!
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Grass, but not for walking on.
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 The warm stone buildings of the centre are impressive and it’s surprising how many of them there actually are. We wander our way through the tourist visitors to the house of our hosts Max and Julia. They are very welcoming and as Julia has travelled extensively in NZ, we have lots to chat about.



Today's ride: 15 km (9 miles)
Total: 15 km (9 miles)

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Rich FrasierOooh! Looking forward to following along on this one! It’s good to see you’re back on the road.
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10 months ago
Alicja GindersGreat writing. You just get better and better at this. I was amused at your recounting of Amanda's enthusiastic telling of the church history, with its almost subtle telling of her interest in your own story!😉
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9 months ago