Cycling to St. Ives: A Busway Story

Cambridge is a cycling town. During the morning rush hour you’re just as likely to see herds of cyclists barreling down the roads and paths of the city as you are cars. It’s one of the things I really enjoy about living here. There’s even a bicycle highway of sorts here. The guided busway links Cambridge and St. Ives, a town about 16 miles to the northwest. I’ve written before about a brief ride Jeremy and I took down the busway but a few weekends ago, we finally had the chance to do the whole thing. We took a day and cycled to St. Ives and back along a beautiful stretch of the English countryside.

We had made plans a few days before for our trip. This was going to be the longest cycle excursion I’d been on and I was a bit nervous about how I’d fair. True, I had run a 10K not long before but a round trip of near marathon-length cycling was not something I’d ever done. We packed very lightly. Some water, a couple of bananas and cereal bars and that was it. Our plan was to get to St. Ives around lunchtime, have a bit of a wonder, grab a bite to eat, and then hop back on our bikes and head home.

Preparing the Bikes

Jeremy adjusts his bag before we set off.

That morning, Jeremy prepared our bikes and we made our way out to the busway. It was a bit of a busy morning. Traffic whizzed past us as we rode through Cambridge to the start of the busway. Once we got on, it was smooth sailing, open, sunny, and beautiful. The countryside envelops you as you ride along. Because the path is so straight, you can let your mind wander and you can soak in the surroundings. There were so many places I wish I could have stopped to take photos; the golden fields, the lakes, the pasture with the horses, the old church, the windmill. Luckily, I was able to capture a bit of the feel of the trip with my helmet-mounted camera.


We got to St. Ives in very good time. We had thought the trip there would take an hour and a half but we made it in just under an hour. We walked up to the town centre and parked up. I scoffed my bananas under the watchful gaze of Oliver Cromwell.

Oliver Cromwell in St. Ives

I couldn’t tell if he was condemning me for eating a banana or asking for a bite.

We wandered a bit down the high street and off toward the river bank. It was a gorgeous day. Reports had been that it would be overcast, but the sky was blue and the sun bright and warm. While wondering past some of the boats moored along the path, we happened upon a mother duck with her nine ducklings in tow. I had never seen so many baby ducks all together. They were adorable and gave us a bit of a show as they jetted through the water and dove out of sight only to pop up somewhere completely different.


St. Ives and the River Great Ouse


Mother duck with her ducklings


Abandoned boat

After a quick walk through an old churchyard we decided to head back into the town centre to find a place to have lunch. Our ride had left us ravenous. We opted for a bright looking cafe called Little Acre Kitchen. Honestly, it was probably one of the best lunches I have ever had. The menu was a mix of cafe favourites and Asian fusion. It was the perfect fare to have after a long bike ride, it was light and flavourful and delicious. Also, they had amazing ice cream.

All Saints Parish Church, St. Ives

All Saints Parish Church, St. Ives


After lunch, we walked out over the St. Ives Bridge. The River Great Ouse stretched out before us disappearing into the marshy fenlands. We couldn’t have asked for a better day.


River Great Ouse


St. Ives Bridge with a view of the Bridge Chapel

We headed back to reclaim our bikes and begin the journey home. We walked to the edge of town and back to the entrance to the busway. If the trip to St. Ives had been a piece of cake, the ride back was a piece of granite. The tale wind we had enjoyed the entire way to St. Ives had now become a head wind. It took a lot of work to pedal against it. That coupled with the fatigue from having been exerting ourselves for most of the day, meant the ride home took quite a bit longer.

Despite that, I wouldn’t have changed a thing about that day. I really can’t wait to go back and do it again. How else will I get my artisanal ice cream fix?


Ready for the next cycling adventure.

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