Hobson's Conduit and the Botanical Gardens
A 3 to 4 miles round trip that can
be done on foot or by bike: I'd recommend cycling if you want to avoid returning by the same route.
Start at the junction of Trumpington and Lensfield roads. Walk a few metres up Lensfield Road and turn right into Brookside. Notice the elegant, octagonal stone monument on your right just inside the fenced garden - go in and have a look. It was originally the Market fountain, known as Hobson's Conduit, but was moved to this site in 1856, after a fire in the Market. Thomas Hobson first brought water from Nine Wells (towards Shelford village) through Hobson's Conduit into the city. I, as well as you dear reader, find it confusing that the monument and waterway have the same name.
The Market Square in 1840. Notice the domed Hobson's Conduit - yes, it's moved!
Follow the garden bordering the Conduit (note the beautiful trees) until you reach Bateman Street. Turn
right and when you meet Trumpington Road you will immediately see an entrance on your left into the
University Botanical Gardens. If you want to
look round you'll have to lock up your bike first. There is
an entrance fee these days. The Botanics (as we
locals say) are a wonderful mix of formal and informal
cultivation. My favourites are the glass houses (the tropical
one is amazingly humid), the environment around the
small stream near the entrance and the lake near the
Trumpington Road boundary. Refreshments can be had in a posh new cafe. When
you've had enough make your way back to the same entrance.
Plant life old and young in the Botanics.
Turn left out onto Trumpington Road with the Conduit on your left. Notice the fine (closed) metal gates to the Botanics. Cross straight over the bottom of Brooklands Avenue and into the allotment gardens though a metal gate (usually open). An alternative route here from the city centre is via the first half of the Coe Fen walk. Now turn left and then right onto the path running alongside the Conduit. This borders the allotments, Empty Common and soon some woodland and scrub. At one point you pass through some beautiful mature beech trees - watch the roots! It's a really pleasant walk or ride. You'll need to cross the odd bridge and a tarmac drive into a sports field along the way. In winter the path can be muddy.
Eventually the path kinks around the point at which the Conduit goes into a tunnel underground. Follow the path straight on alongside a field with a rough hedge on your right. At the end of the field you meet Long Road. If you are on foot and want to avoid the traffic, turn round and make your way back the way you came. If you want to see where the water for Hobson's Conduit comes from, join the Nine Wells walk from here by turning left along the path between the field and a row of trees bordering Long Road. Turn right onto the cycle path that runs alongside the guided bus route, immediately passing under a bridge. After a few hundred metres take the cycle path left onto the bridge over the railway line. At the bottom keep right, eventually joing the main cycle path having gone under a road bridge. You are now on the path next to the railway line. Not far ahead take the track off to the left that goes to Nine Wells wood. It runs to the left of a small stream.
If you are on your bike turn right on the cycle path alongside Long Road. Turn right into Trumpington Road and cycle back, mostly on cycle paths, towards the city centre. Past the Botanics, turn right into Bateman Street and then left into Brookside. You could get a meal in Japas Sushi - it's near the end on the right, very close to your starting point. This used to be the Cross Keys pub where I'm sorry to say I was sick on the floor one New Year's Eve many years ago. If that is too off-putting then turn right into Lensfield Rd and try the Snug Bar bar, formerly the Spread Eagle pub, on your right.