On Sunday 11th October 6 Nomads and 2 friends led by Simon drove north to Cambridge to paddle the scenic Cam from near Grantchester through the centre of historic Cambridge and back. The weather was as good as the forecast had promised as we prepared ourselves, safety briefed and put in to an idyllic pool below the mill bridge on the outskirts of Grantchester.
Due to coronavirus precautions we stayed in two separate ‘pods’ as we paddled through tree lined meadows toward to Cambridge and after the first quarter mile met up with Andy from Chiswick club recently moved to Cambridge, who was our local knowledge and tourist guide for the day. River traffic was light when we started out with the odd open canoe and a half dozen K1s passing in the other direction plus a brave or foolhardy, but not very conversational river swimmer enjoying improving his immune system.
It was a couple of very scenic miles to the start of Cambridge city centre with more meadows, a punt yard and Cambridge canoe club’s luxurious clubhouse on the left, where a couple more K1 paddlers declined to bid us good morning. Probably didn’t like our plastic boats. At the edge of town a sluice dropped the level of the Cam and a set of punt rollers down to the lower pool proved an irresistable temptation to Ian, who’s Zen just managed to pass from one roller to the next without scraping the ground, but with considerable banging. A few of us braved the fast moving waters below the sluice for practice, while Annette waited patiently for us to finish and move on round the corner to the start of the historic architecture.
First up was the Mathematician’s Bridge of wood like an origami puzzle followed by the Bridge of Sighs, as Andy said the site of many a romantic proposal and, presumably, swoon. The river then opened up for half a mile as we paddled along the ‘backs’ past many no doubt priceless medieval-looking buildings before riverside flats took over and we emerged into the park on the other side of Cambridge. One portage past a lock took us onto the final stretch of our outward journey to field opposite the rowing club boat houses and, handily for Simon and Andy, a pub where we took our lunch stop.
Over lunch we exchanged notes with Andy about what’s going on at our different clubs and lamented the recent permanent demise of Gurnell pool, our common link. Suitably refreshed and fed the cool wind and darkening sky persuaded us back onto the water without too much delay for a photo op opposite the ‘modest’ boat houses, before heading back, unfortunately upstream, for the return leg.
We didn’t hang around on the way back, but this didn’t stop Ian from getting some good photos including this one of Annette in front of historic Queen’s (I think) College.
The journey back was uneventful, apart from considerably increased punt traffic and the odd loose cow on the footpath, as we felt the difference paddling upstream. According to Dan it had been four miles downstream and it felt like it upstream. Once back at the pool where we’d put in a final burst of testosterone overtook Ian, Simon and Tony, who all rolled several times just to show they could, much to the applause of passers by on Grantchester mill bridge.
Thanks to Simon for leading the trip, to Simon and Ian for the photos and to everyone for coming along. A very enjoyable trip! Matt, Trips Officer.