Cambridge rowing lake

This article was published in 2004, in Newsletter 57.

Diagram of proposed rowing lake layout

A little while ago Jim Chisholm and I had a meeting with Michael Garroway, the Director of Resource Development for Cambridge Rowing Trust. We had a long and informative talk about the Trust’s plans for a sports development between Milton Country Park and Waterbeach.

Cambridge Rowing Trust was established to construct and maintain a 220-acre lake and country park. The outdoor sports centre to be created, Cambridge Sport Lakes, will be one of the country’s largest purpose-built sports facilities and competition venues for rowing, triathlon and cycling. Key facilities will include:

  • A 3.2 km stretch of water connected to the River Cam, including a 2 km 8-lane international standard competition course for rowing.
  • A triathlon facility suitable for day-to-day training and for hosting all levels of competition.
  • A purpose-built BMX track and a 3-mile long cycle circuit built to international competition standards.
  • A venue for sprint canoeists for training and racing.
  • 100 acres of undulating, wooded parkland and a lake for angling.
  • And, of most relevance for cyclists, a network of cycle paths connected to Milton Country Park, the towpath and Waterbeach.

Map of Cambridge showing planned rowing lake location

The park is to run parallel to the River Cam and the A10 Ely road. It will start a little north of the A14 and will be bounded to the south-east by the railway line. The boundary will then run north parallel to Car Dyke as far as Waterbeach and follow the Car Dyke Road for some way before returning south to Milton. There will be cycle paths right around the park with access from the towpath through a low tunnel (walking only) under the railway and alongside a canal connecting the Cam to the new rowing lakes. There will also be access from Waterbeach and from the back of Milton Country Park. Together with the proposed Sustrans route along the River towpath (see Your streets this month), there should be plenty of opportunity for some very pleasant cycling and useful routes into Cambridge from Waterbeach. The road from Milton to Baits Bite Lock (Fen Road) will cross over the narrow 4-lane training lake which will run between the railway culvert and the main competition lake.

Of course, money has to be obtained before any of this can come to realisation (there is a remaining goal of £13 million to acquire) and the planning process will have to be completed. The South Cambridgeshire Local Plan 2004 states that the District Council has approved plans for a new purpose-built 2,000 m rowing lake but that the legal agreement concerning this development has not yet been signed. Cambridge Rowing Trust’s plan is to create the development in two phases. Phase One will create the training and angling lakes, the BMX track and cycle paths. Phase Two will create the competition lake, sports centre and running tracks. But the wait should be well worthwhile. I think it is something to look forward to and should eventually provide Cambridge cyclists with a welcome additional attraction.

Lisa Woodburn