Kings Hedges to Abbey Pool. Number 8 of an occasional series documenting people’s personal journeys.
It’s very convenient for Lisa Clatworthy to drop in for a regular morning swim as she works just around the corner from the Abbey Pool. But she lives at Kings Hedges just off Campkin Road, on the other side of the river. If she had to do the journey by car it would mean going almost into town and back out again, or out to the A14 and back in heavy traffic queues. Using the bus is a non-starter: the journey would need a change of buses and would take more than an hour to do the two miles or so. But by bike it is a direct and delightful route using Green Dragon Bridge and riding across meadows.
It takes a predictable 15 minutes. ‘I can’t imagine doing the journey any other way’, says Lisa.
We tagged along one morning. Starting from Lisa’s home [A], Campkin Road is the first obstacle. But it has been traffic calmed in recent years and so it is very easy to cross [B]. A few back streets and a path opened up for cycling [C, D] lead to Ramsden Square, just off Milton Road.
A slightly unconventional cycle/pedestrian crossing with a centre island [E] makes crossing Milton Road straightforward. The crossing can be reached using the shared-use pavement on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. Lisa says the blue cycle route signs which then mark the way to the river helped her to work out the route when she first moved here.
The side streets come out on Green End Road in Chesterton [F]. As part of the very recent traffic calming, the mini roundabout at Chesterton High Street has been paved and altered [G]. However, Lisa observes that the only change is that it now looks more attractive. ‘Previously, drivers did not give way to cyclists where they should have – and they still don’t.’
A right turn off Fen Road into Water Lane [H] is only possible by bike. It is only a short ride from there to Green Dragon Bridge [I] where cyclists are advised to walk, but virtually no one does. Crossing Stourbridge Common [J] there are cattle grids [K] to keep the cows in – much better than the vicious ‘pram arms’ that used to be here. The route leads up onto Newmarket Road where the path over the bridge has recently been rebuilt [L]. It is too narrow to pass another cyclist on the path. ‘The Toucan crossing at the bottom of the hill is much better now though, and very heavily used.’ [M]
Coldham’s Common [N] is the last, very pleasant section of the journey: a sharp left by the railway bridge leads up to an awkward gate [O] which is the only exit from the Common without a cattle grid. That leads us to Abbey Pool [P] where there are reasonable cycle racks just to the left of the entrance.