Cambridge to Norwich

Part 1: Cambridge to MildenHall

Leaving Cambridge by heading down to the river and following Sustrans cycle route 51 towards Bottisham I followed this nice path along the River, through Fen Ditton and down to Newmarket Road park and ride. From there you head alongside Newmarket road past the airport and the A14 near Stow-cum-Quay. Leaving the cycle route to follow the B1102 I went through Burwell and Fordham before arriving at Mildenhall. The B1102 is smooth and relatively traffic free. It was also slightly downhill with a gentle following wind which made it even nicer. The cycle path is nice to cycle if a little slow and winding due to the large number of obstacles to navigate through.

I stopped in Mildenhall twenty two miles later to grab a drink and a short break for a few minutes before consulting the map and discovering that several more roundabouts existed than fitted on my map.

Part 2: Mildenhall to Watton

Leaving Mildenhall I had some difficulty finding the small road to take me to join the B1112 towards Lakenheath and up through the top edge of Thetford forest. This turns out to be rather fiercely signposted to the Military bases with signposts that suggest the only thing you'll find at the end of the road is a pissed off marine with a big gun. Anyway, you get to cycle past the two airbases where you can get a nice look at some expensive military hardware painted a dull grey colour. They were planes, not battleships but my identification skills don't go much further than that. Heading off the end of the B road through the forest and through the ominously marked danger zone I appeared to travel backwards in time as a series of 1950s overtook me. This was less than ideal as these are

as a result every two minutes one of these overtook me and proceed to make the air unpleasant for almost the whole time it took the next one to overtake me. Once I got onto the B1108 these all vanished into mid air and I progressed between to fields used for military training. Occasionally there was a tower clearly used for excercises with a gun emplacement on top and a great deal of barbed wire around the base.

Part 3: Watton to Norwich

After 50 miles I stopped in Watton for long enough to eat some food and drink some water. I ended up buying more water than I really wanted as I had foolishly come out without cash and had to spend the minimum £5 in the local shop to get anything at all. I headed off down the B1108 as my legs started to announce to me that they really would have prefered to have finished there rather than carrying on. Two miles down the road my back tyre split. Ascertaining this was a problem I asked a chap walking his kids where the nearest bike shop was and received the answer of about half a mile down the road. Wheeling my bike for the half a mile I found the garage which also sold bike spares. Quickly repairing the wheel I thanked the guys in the bike shop for being both friendly and in exactly the right location and then explained that I was cycling from Cambridge to Norwich for a barbeque and not for charity or other good cause. I don't think they really believed me.

Carrying on to Kimberley over the level crossing (ow!) I turned onto the B1135 to Wymondham (pronounced Windham apparently) and discovered over the small hill to the railway bridge that my legs were serious about having had enough in Watton. Carrying on to the B1172 towards Norwich and continued onto an extremely well done cycle path at Hethersett. Unfortunatly the cyclepath appears to stop dead at the junction between the A11 (busy dual carridgeway) and the A47 (very busy dual carridgeway). I discovered that the local road is actually the remains of the A11 I followed that to the next junction where I lost the cycle lane completely had had to cycle a mile down the side of the A11 which was less than pleasant. I've since discovered that I should have gone over the A11 on the bridge and down the other side onto the other part of the old road. More signposts really would help here. The last part to Alisons parents' house was nice and I arrived to be greeted by a pimms and a shower.

All in I cycled 73 miles in 4 hours 52 mins for an average speed of almost exactly 15 miles / hour which I was quite pleased with. Including stops for repairs and food it took a little over six hours.

I got the train back. Anglia Railways run a direct service from Norwich to Cambridge with bikes for £1. This includes a cycle rescue service on 0800 269842 where they'll pick you up if you break. For all my ranting about the railways beingsubstandard or outright crap Anglia appear to be a company with clue. Bet they get bought out of the franchise at the next bidding round though.