Wednesday 2 December 2009

Addenbrookes Cycle Path, South Cambridge

The Addenbrookes Cycle Path was built to connect the south side of Cambridge to the nearest village of Shelford and connects on to other villages along the Granta valley. It also marks the ten thousandth mile of cycle path with Sustrans involvement. With the combination of sponsors, the path has been marked with just over 10,000 colour stripes, representing the genetic code for a very important human gene - BRCA2, which was sequenced at The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in nearby Hinxton.

This video journey starts in Shelford and heads north into Cambridge. The first part is in Shelford itself and goes alongside the railway from the housing estate around Chaston Road up to the Granham Lane level crossing. The level crossing end is very poorly sighted due to limited space. The route itself goes completely across the road. If the barriers are down, it's very obvious and easy to proceed, but otherwise it involves losing all gained speed.

Unfortunately, I'm missing the first part of the next section, where there is a sculpture which makes the path special. There again, there also is rather a sharp drop which spoils this end.

For the mid section, it's flat, even, and wide enough for 2 cyclists. What a joy! The best bit is the central rubberised section which makes for an incredibly smooth surface and excellent for riding. Of course, everyone should take care of other path users and not just stick on this at all times.

The, the path starts to dip as it heads toward the Nine Wells stream crossing. Yet further flat surfaces and a steady slight incline make this a good speedy ride. The final sculpture, marking the end of the 10k-Miles Sustrans UK Cycle Paths, appears just before the bridge. This is a limited access wooden bridge that crosses the beginning of Hobson's Conduit going into Cambridge.

The next section is a trifle boring, although it does show some of the activities for the Addenbrookes Relief Road (detailed PDF). The path turns eastwards next ot a ditch before finally turning back towards the hospital itself. This second turn is over a limited access bridge which really does require losing a lot of speed to navigate. I can't help but think there might have been better designs, or is it simply to force everyone to slow down more than would be necessary to save the Health & Safety people.

The final section comes up to the hospital south side, alongside a ditch and wood. Again, less than exhilirating. The final approach to the road itself has previously been crowded by hospital employees smoking, as they had been banned from doing it on hospital land. Recently this has abated as the trust has seen fit to deal with the problem rather than sweep it out of their juristriction. The junction is very poorly sighted with traffic coming from a variety of angles. The road surface is also very bad, which is quite a shock after the past 1.6 miles!

Now, this is not the prettiest of paths. However, it is a very good example of taking a route well away from traffic and offering a quiet, smooth, very pleasant cycling experience. Bar a couple of poor spots mentioned above! However, all this pales into insignificance when you travel along it on a summer's late evening and you are guided by little fairy lights all the way in (still be properly lit!), totally awe-inspiring!


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