As we finished loading the kids up into the trailer, our neighbor stepped out and we casually chatted with her for a moment before heading off. She asked where we were heading, we told her that we were riding to Audley End for the afternoon. Her reaction is characteristic of many when we tell them where and how far we’re riding—and Audley End is a relatively short ride!
The ride south from Cambridge is really mellow, following National Cycle Route 11. In total, the round trip was 44.1 miles and it took something like two hours in the saddle each direction (with breaks, total travel time was 4:46).
there-and-back: from cambridge to audley end
We signed up for a year membership with English Heritage just for this trip. Well, not really. But we signed up right before heading down. At nine pounds a month, the membership is vastly cheaper than paying for admission at the door—even if you don’t go somewhere every month.
NCR 11 meanders through little villages and through rolling fields and is really well marked. There was only one segment next to the Whittlesford Church that was impassable with the bike trailer due to a sluice. Well, Ashley and I call them sluices—whether or not that is what they’re really called—, the metal gates that open into an enclosed area, forcing bikes to dismount and walk through. The trailer, unfortunately, does not fit through such things, so we just found a way around, rather than unhitching and lifting it over. There is a small footpath just east of the church, if you’re wondering how to get around it.
South out of Ickleton is where the rolling hills begin. With the trailer, the 6-7% grade gave me pause, and I realized that for touring—with the trailer, and loaded panniers—I really will need a granny ring. Subsequently, I’ve swapped out the 26 ring for a 22 (read more about that, and some misadventures here).
Instead of turning right (when heading south) towards Littlebury Green, we continued straight along Chestnut Ave, going under the M11 to B1383. If you ride there, once you pass under the M11, you’ll want to turn on your lights, because there are a few bends, and it gets quite shady—especially once you turn onto B1383. If you’re nervous about riding on B1383, there is something of a path along the southbound side of the road you could push your bike along, or ride along (we did this on the way in—and rode out along the road). Turn right onto Spring Hill Road and you’re there.
Alternatively, and this would be much safer, you can follow 11 to Saffron Walden by farther south through Littlebury Green, and then backtrack out of Saffron Walden along Audley End Road, but the way we went shaves a few miles off the trip, and it wasn’t that bad.
When we got there, the staff were a bit confused what we should do with our bikes. We locked up at a cycle park near the admission booth. This kept the bikes away from people wandering around because it is in an obscure part of the grounds. But, I think if we go again, we’ll just lock the bikes to themselves in the carpark.
The grounds are gorgeous, and we had a fun photoshoot with the girls out on the front green. The building itself was amazing as well. See some snaps below!