Cambridge Civil War 200 Perm  Enter this ride

This is a permanent ride and can be ridden at any time.

212km, 14.3 to 30kph (6hrs 40mins to 14hrs).  1650m of climbing.

In June 1645, King Charles I was on the ropes and his Royalist troops were being hounded by the Parliamentarian New Model Army, commanded by Sir Thomas Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell during the first English Civil War.  The war came to a head at the Battle of Naseby, forcing the king into retreat and ultimately to being captured.  This route starts in Girton, Cambridge and heads out to Market Harborough and then passes southwards through the area of this key battle where you visit both the Royalist and the Parliamentarian fronts and commemorative monuments.

This is a great all-season 200, especially into a westerly breeze, which will blow you back to the start.  The terrain ripples a little to Market Harborough and then you must traverse six or seven ridges that cross the landscape, which should prove interesting for flatlanders, and the roads are mostly good.

Thoroughly good ride, which I’d recommend to others.

— Alan, September 2015

There are plenty of pubs and cafés along the route to break up the ride. In deep winter there is an alternative route that uses quiet but gritted main roads rather than lanes to reduce the risk from ice — ask the organiser.

The route

Starting from Girton on the northern edge of Cambridge, this ride heads north-west to St Ives, where Oliver Cromwell once resided and where a statue of him stands in the town square, one of only four in the country.  You will cross the ancient bridge, which was partially blown up in 1645 to prevent the King’s army from making its way from Lincolnshire to London, and was used as the only bridge over the river until 1980.  Curiously, there is a small chapel halfway across.

Map of the route

You will pass through quiet Cambridgeshire villages lost in wide, open valleys with church spires on distant hills, to the ancient market town of Oundle.  If you are lucky you will see lots of red kites flying overhead! 

From Oundle you will make you way through rolling countryside to the historic town of Market Harborough, King Charles I’s headquarters at the climax of the first English Civil War, and later a prison for captured royalists.  The route was updated in October 2015 to pass through the nicer parts of this ancient regional centre.

The route then heads south through the neighbouring villages of Clipston — the Royalist front — and Naseby — Parliamentarian New Model Army — right through the middle of the fields of the Battle of Naseby, the turning point in the war.  There is a monument on the left to mark the battle, as well as viewing platforms at the points where Rupert (the King’s general) and Fairfax looked across the field of battle (marked on the routesheet). This leg of the ride is suddenly surprisingly lumpy!

Shortly you will turn back towards East Anglia and climb a number of ridges that run perpendicular to the route, making for a delightfully uppy-downy run to Sharnbrook, after which the route is generally flattish through pretty Northamptonshire and Bedfordshire villages before crossing back into Cambridgeshire for a quick run to the arrivée. This route has around 1650m of climbing, much of it gradual, but with some short, sharp climbs at the western end.

The controls

Start and finish at the Co-Operative at 120 Girton Road, Girton CB3 0LW, opposite Weavers Field (07.00-22.00), which is close to ample car-parking.  You can also use the BP Garage/Spar on Huntingdon Road, CB3 0LQ, which is open 24-hours and has a toilet.

Alternatively you can start at any control on the route and ride in either direction.  If you wish to start at a point along the route, please confirm with the organiser first.

The controls are a mix of well-serviced, commercial controls with 24-hour provision — Girton, Oundle, Market Harborough — as well as smaller, daytime-only controls — Guilsborough and Sharnbrook, both 7am to 11pm.  If you intend to ride this route overnight then please check with the organiser for alternative controls.

Toilets are available in Oundle and Market Harborough, or behind some hedges on the route.

The routesheet and GPS files

There are two versions of the routesheet, depending on what you want: one has distances between instructions and holds your hand; the other contains just the turn-by-turn instructions with only as many distances as necessary for navigation and planning, as preferred by old-school audaxers.  Note: the route was updated in October 2015 to pass through the nicer parts of Market Harborough.  Route check on 18 October.  (updated 18 October 2015)

There are several versions of the GPS files, depending on your device and preference: TCX files provide turn-by-turn in Garmin Edge devices; GPX files provide a track to follow on-screen on all devices, although older devices need tracks with fewer than 500 points. They're all here, although you only need to download one:  (updated 5 October 2015)

Getting to the start

Hopefully you live close enough to cycle to the start, but if not then park in Girton north of the A14 — there is a public car park at the recreation ground next to the church in Girton.  Alternatively, park in any side road — Pepys Way, Hicks Lane and Mayfield Road are close and safe.

Cambridge is well-served by train, and it’s an easy 6km ride from the station to the start control through the historic centre of Cambridge (routesheet | GPX | TCX).

Before you start

It is a requirement that you notify the organiser of the date of your ride for validation and insurance purposes — a text or email is sufficient.

On completion

When you have completed the ride, write the control establishment names and times on the brevet, complete your details on the reverse and then send your brevet card and receipts to the organiser (details are on the routesheet). And please remember to sign your brevet!

Have a great, safe ride!  Enter this ride