Ben Harris (bjh21) wrote,
Ben Harris

Coffeeneuring 2016

I'm still here, and this autumn I have been taking part in the 6th Annual Coffeeneuring Challenge. Here's where I went:

Trip 1: Oakington

Destination: Olive Tree Cafe, Oakington Garden Centre
Date: 22nd October 2016
Drink: Latte, with fruits of the forest cheesecake
Distance: 14.4 miles

I found the Olive Tree Cafe on OpenStreetMap, and I already knew a nice route that passes it, so that seemed like a pleasant start. The route goes out via my workplace in West Cambridge, and then through Coton, Madingley, and Dry Drayton towards Oakington.

The Olive Tree is at the back of a garden centre on the Dry Drayton to Oakington road. The garden centre has a bike rack and the cafe sells cakes, which is bike-friendly enough for me. The cafe is large enough that even with a dozen other customers it seemed almost empty.

On the way home, I visited the Oakington Martyrs' Graves to correct their tagging on OpenStreetMap. I stopped at the Co-op in Girton to buy some food for dinner. On the way back into Cambridge I noticed that a new road, Eddington Avenue, was now open, so I rode up and down it and its cycle paths to get a GPS trace for later mapping.

Trip 2: Station Square, Cambridge

Destination: Chill #02, Station Square, Cambridge
Date: 23rd October 2016
Drink: Flat white, with carrot cake
Distance: 5.4 miles

A local newspaper had reported that the new square outside Cambridge railway station was open, so I thought I'd go and survey it for OpenStreetMap, and maybe get some coffee. There's a new Hotel Ibis next to the station, and at the bottom of it is what appears to be a corporate facsimile of a hipster coffee shop. I didn't much like my flat white, but the carrot cake was all right.

Since the coffee shop's next door to the largest cycle park in the country, there was no problem finding somewhere to park my bike, but it did mean I had to park quite a long way from my coffee.

Trip 3: Histon and Impington

Destination: The Geographer, Impington
Date: 29th October 2016
Drink: Mocha, with pecan toffee chocolate cake
Distance: 7.8 miles

OpenStreetMap told me there was a newish cafe in Impington, and allegedly a monument nearby. Histon and Impington are easy to get to from Cambridge: I just rode out along Histon Road, along the cycle path over the A14, and then through the village on the old main road. The cafe's towards the north end of the village and well equipped with bike racks and outside tables. I bought a mocha and a slice of very sweet cake.

After leaving the cafe, I found that the monument was actually just a war memorial and noted a few more interesting things around Histon. I returned to Cambridge via Girton, and paid another visit to Eddington Avenue to survey a few things I missed last time.

Trip 4: Grantchester

Destination: The Orchard, Grantchester
Date: 5th November 2016
Drink: Darjeeling tea, with scone, clotted cream, and strawberry jam
Distance: 9.9 miles

In the summer, it's traditional for students from Cambridge to go up the River Cam to Grantchester, whether by punt, on foot, or by bicycle. Obviously I chose the latter, and my destination was The Orchard. I followed the traditional route along the footpath from Newnham, aided by a tailwind.

The Orchard bills itself as a tea garden: the outdoor seating is the point of the place, so I took my cream tea out into the orchard and reclined in a deckchair under an apple tree. Slightly to my surprise, it was warm enough that this was comfortable. The Orchard has bike racks at both entrances, as might be expected.

Homeward, I took the Grantchester to Coton road into the teeth of a headwind as the sun set on my left, and then back into Cambridge along the same path as I used outwards on trip 1. Finally, I diverted to the shops on the way home for some bread and milk.

Trip 5: Minimal coffeeneuring

Destination: West Café, West Cambridge Site
Date: 10th November 2016
Drink: Single espresso
Distance: 2.6 miles

I work for the University of Cambridge on their West Cambridge Site. Most days, just before four o'clock in the afternoon, I stop working and go upstairs to our tea room for a cup of tea. This is slightly too short a journey for coffeeneuring purposes, but looking at OpenStreetMap I thought that a circuit of the perimeter of the site would come to about two miles. So I left the site onto Clerk Maxwell Road and proceeded in an anticlockwise direction.

The ride was varied, taking in the commuter parking of Clerk Maxwell Road, the narrow cycle path along Madingley Road, the leaf-strewn bridleway between West Cambridge and the M11, and the ever-present Coton footpath. I arrived at West Café and its fairly-convenient bike racks, having done 2.1 miles. Since this was such a minimal coffeenée, I bought a minimal coffee and then finished the circuit back to my office.

Trip 6: Milton

Destination: Grounds Café, Milton Country Park
Date: 19th November 2016
Drink: Honeycomb mocha, with peanut butter brownie
Distance: 16.7 miles

I'd never been to Milton Country Park before, but it looked like a good destination on a cold November day. To get there, I left Cambridge along Histon Road, then came back in along the guided busway and then crossed the Jane Coston Bridge into Milton. The Country Park has cycle parking at its entrance, but cycling is allowed in the park so I could ride up to the café and use the bike racks outside it.

My satnav's battery had died just as I left home, so I picked up a map of the Country Park from the café and used that to navigate through the park to its north end on Fen Road. I didn't have a map of Milton, though, and found myself leaving towards Landbeach rather than Impington as I'd intended. Rather than get lost in Milton trying to find the right road, I accepted my fate and went home via Landbeach, Westwick, and Girton.

Trip 7: Coton

Destination: Massarella’s Coffee Shop, Coton Orchard
Date: 20th November 2016
Drink: Large latte, with lemon meringue pie
Distance: 5.4 miles

Coton Orchard is not just an orchard, but also a garden centre, farm shop, post office, and crucially for my purposes, café. I'd already passed it on my first ride, so I just took the same route outwards from Cambridge. The garden centre and café are rather more plush than the ones at Oakington, but the cake wasn't as good. The garden centre has adequate bike parking at its entrance.

I wanted to get home fairly quickly, so I headed north to Madingley Road and then took its cycleway back into Cambridge.


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