On those days when I’m confined to home, making a futile attempt at social niceties, I sometimes pick a shorter walk along the Cambridge Guided bus-way.
The circular walk from Swavesey to St Ives is the last stretch of the busway proper, and a good 12 miler for a sunny Sunday spent avoiding the football.
Just to prove I can occasionally appreciate those wide open eastern skies, this is a photo from the RSPB lakes at Dry Drayton;
Almost anywhere else in the country, I’d have had a route like this to myself. Our guided busway (£180m, only three times the original estimate) is used by runners and riders rather than bus users. Thousands of them.
Northerners get shiny trams that take them to great pubs in the suburbs of Sheffield, Manchester, Newcastle and Nottingham. We get a bus on rails that takes us to St Ives and back for the cost of two pints. That’s why I walk.
St Ives is a big a contrast with its Cornish namesake as you can imagine, a nondescript High Street with only a Cromwell statue to redeem it.
The riverside gets a few visitors at the weekend, but it can’t compare with Wareham.
I got to St Ives just as the 2015-16 football season ended in 4th place glory for City, and looked for a pub to catch up on United’s latest self-humiliation.
The town’s pubs are typically Huntingdonshire – plain and uninspiring, though there was already live music coming from a couple of them, a Sunday tradition. If you’re looking for Greene King IPA or Doom Bar you’ll find it here. I once drank two pints of Hoegaarden at lunchtime in the Oliver Cromwell when that was legal, not advised now.
The Royal Oak is the sole Beer Guide pub, and an ideal place to listen a barrage of hate from Souness and Carragher in Sky’s football round-up from Swansea. Astonishing stuff, appropriately accompanied by a half of Oakham’s Tranquility IPA.
This was my third yellowish strong IPA (6.5%) recently, following a Newby Wyke Yamato (Cambridge) and a Wiper & True Sorachi Ace (Falmouth), all of which were superb beers by impressive breweries.
I remember the Oak as one of the town’s smarter places when it was a Tetley Festival pub, but now Oakham have three pumps including Citra. Add in the Old Rosie and the live music that was about to start, and you have a proper pub with the feel of Bolton’s Alma or Aberdeen’s Krakatoa. A mix of youths and old grumpies (which would have been me if Swansea had equalised) makes a great pub.
Not a lot else to say about St Ives, but the walks along the Ouse are both very scenic and inspiring.