Over the winter our walking legs had withered away so, given the imminent arrival of spring and the accompanying warmer weather, we thought it prudent to stretch our legs and discover some more of the lacklustre Cambridgeshire countryside.
We started in Cottenham and roughly plotted a circular walk that seemed about right – somewhere around 15 miles. It turned out to be 20 miles and the extra 5 were quite a struggle compared to other similar length walks we had done before the winter break.
Our path crossed the new Huntingdon/St Ives to Cambridge “guided” busway. This revolutionary idea of running a bus between concrete rails has been a long running joke in Cambridge. For a start, it is 2 years late, and still not running. It is now due to open later this year, but we’ll see. My biggest problem with it, is that to build it they had remove the remains of the old railway track that actually survived the Beeching Axe but closed in 1970. So the council decided it best to remove the existing track and to lay down concrete instead, with the only possible advantage that the bus would allow for travel to the centre of Cambridge on the road network and not just the station on the rail network. Most of Cambridge think that the guided bus way is a completely ridiculous and costly scheme that may benefit commuters but brings nothing but added congestion to the residents of Cambridge itself.
Here is the guided busway in all its splendour:
Cottenham and the surrounding villages are very much Fenland places. In some spots we could see pumps in action taking water from the drainage ditches and pumping it into the River Ouse. In other spots we could see sluice gates allowing for water to come out of the River Ouse and to flood nature reserves and preserve the Fenland wildlife.
We stopped off in Earith for a pint en route at a fairly non descript pub called The Crown. Unsurprisingly we just had a choice of Green King IPA or nothing.
The views are rarely magnificent in the lowland Fen regions, but as the sun began to set the colours became more pronounced and the vistas became a little more appealing.
One thing we did notice on this trip was the number of dead animals. We spotted two swan carcasses with feathers scattered in every direction. In a small stretch of road we also spotted two dead rabbits and a deceased badger. And finally, the paths along the river banks contained many empty fresh water mussel shells (presumably dropped by hungry birds).
We made it back to the car with just 3 minutes until sunset. Perfect timing.
Duration 6:56 hours
Distance 19.8 miles
Path (Google Earth)