Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Riding the white elephant to the river

If you live in or near Cambridge you've probably heard of the "Cambridgeshire guided busway" and if you haven't try typing it into google, life's too short to explain what's been going on! Anyhow, let's ignore the dream and missed deadlines, what we have snaking it's way along the old railway line from from St Ives in the Fens to Cambridge city centre is this . . .

. . . a white elephant it may be, but it's a very useful white elephant if you have a bicycle ;-)

This afternoon Cliff and I packed our bikes into the car and headed over to the outskirts of Cambridge to The Daily Bread Co-op where we stocked up on essentials. We then parked the car in the industrial estate just around the corner from the co-op and hopped onto our bikes; a short ride to the end of the road and then we were whizzing along on the white elephant.

We then joined a cycle path leading to a foot and cycle bridge over the A14 and we were soon peddling through a busy country park. On we peddled to the river . . .

We sailed along beside the water, passing willow trees exploding with fungi . . .

Eventually we reached the bridge at Clayhithe, and The Bridge pub where we had lunch before heading off further into the fens. The little building in the photo below houses a pumping engine, essential for keeping the Fens drained – without the pumps this land would return to the water.

We crossed the river at Bottisham Sluice . . .

And meandered our way back to the river path, barges chugged along at a stately pace, dragonflies and swallows skimmed the water . . .

Eventually we'd left the countryside behind and we were back on the white elephant, whizzing along on the smooth concrete past unused bus-stops and the brambles and wild flowers which are gradually taking over the tracks.

I had to work this morning to keep my freelance illustration projects on schedule and I felt as if I was going down with a cold but agreed to Cliff's bike ride idea – and I'm so pleased I did! Riding the white elephant to the river has blown all the cobwebs away, the cold has blown away too.


  1. Your readers will all be demanding that their councils provide them with similar white elephants now.

    The last of the fungi seems to be oozing rather than 'exploding'.

    Glad you feel refreshed after you ride. Hope the cold doesn't materialise.


  2. My dad (a cambridge lad) would be ashamed of me when I say I've never heard of that! Looks a lovely ride you had, glad the cold got blown away. Hope the rest of the weekend is as good weather

  3. Now that's a wonderful tip - the girls love cycling but I am frightened to death every time we take them on the roads. The guided busway looks just the ticket because, let's face it, it'll be years before it sees a bus!

  4. how simply lovely... we have an opposite version of you white elephant in that we use the old disused railway which was taken away by Beeching in the 70's. There is one around the corner that takes us on a flat straight journey 6 miles into Louth... it's great and nobody uses it except for us and the occasional rabbit!

  5. Lovely photos, a glimpse of blue sky among them........ Even I could be tempted to dust off my bike and go for a meander through that beautiful countryside.
    Glad you are feeling better, who wouldn't after such a lovely jaunt.

  6. Everywhere you visit seems so interesting and beautiful. I walk on a bike path in Chelmsford MA. It is called The Bruce Freeman Rails and Trails. When it is complete it will be over 25 miles long. You will be able to ride your bike or walk from Lowell to Framingham.Not the same beautiful scenery you have but beautiful in a different way. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Celia, that white elephant of yours is a treasure. Hoping that lots of folks do use it for bike rides like yours. Thank you so much for taking that camera along, so that we could share the pleasure of that journey fueled by pedals.


  8. Always good to read about other people's bike rides!

  9. Good luck with your deadlines.

    Is the St Ives near you the one in the rhyme?

    I did a post recently about the other St Ives in Cornwall and several people asked if I had met the man with seven wives?

  10. what a lovely wide white elephant it is! & safe :)

  11. What a wonderful cycle route! You take your life in your hands cycling to the shop on our little country lanes. Those fungi are quite amazing - alien life forms! Penny

  12. What a wonderful day out, and what a great way to get some oxygen to the brain and blow away the cobwebs. Much healthier than London on August bank holiday!

  13. Mostly I tend to think I am not a keen bike rider and am much happier walking, as far as you like! Then I read something like this and am almost tempted by the bike again. Or would be, if I didn't live up a hill too steep to ride up!

  14. oh for a white elephant - or even a white mouse - my husband was nearly squished on his bike a couple of weeks ago and it would be nicer knowing he was on an elephant rathern then someones bonnet.

    I also wish we had one of these it would be great with the kids (mind you a bit of your scenic countryside wouldn't go astray either :)

  15. I'm enjoying reading your blog!
    Wonderful photos too!
    Thanks for sharing,

  16. lovely blog. Thank you for your visit to mine!

  17. For one silly moment I thought you meant the buses were running! Using them as cycle paths seems far more sensible.

  18. Looks like a lovely ride Celia - especially along the tow path of the river. Thanks for the great links also.

    Hope your cold was permanently kept at bay - I seem to be nurturing one at the moment ... and we're going on holiday on Saturday ... pah!


  19. Sounds just the job for having a break from work, that's one of the advantages of working freelance isn't it? You sound as though you're up to your eyeballs in work, though that's a good thing, it doesn't make it any less stressful does it? Hope you avoid the cold. Zinc and vit c, that's what I've been on to avoid receiving Hugo's cold. Love Vanessa xxx

  20. I am so envious of your picturesque bicicyle path beside the river. Sadly nothing like this exists in Sydney, Australia. I would love to ride a bike but Sydney does not provide enough bicycle pathways. Please keep up your pics they are very inspiring.
    The Urban Potager

  21. I know I'm always comparing where I live with where you live, my bit coming out unfavourably, but....we have hills and if ever I visit East Anglia I just imagine how lovely it must be to ride a bike on those flat roads. Even better on a dedicated track.

  22. Wow what a bike ride-at least it isn't too hilly round there, or at least it doesn't look like it.


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