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A Family Day Out In Cambridge With National Rail PlusBike

For us, the perfect way to spend a family day out together is simply being outside and exploring somewhere new. Both of my boys are incredibly active and would much rather be outside running around, digging up mud or finding secret hidey places to explore than spend the day at home. So when National Rail asked if we'd like to work with them to help them to promote their PlusBike tool by taking a trip to somewhere new and hiring bikes for the day, I knew it would be the perfect collaboration for us.

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We weren't familiar with PlusBike before our trip to Cambridge, but I was amazed at how easy I found it to use when I started looking in to it. It's accessible via both the National Rail mobile app and the desktop site and it's a bit of a hidden gem to be honest.

There's so much information available in regards to travelling by train and bike and how best to make them as easy as possible. You can find out information specific to your journey or station including bike facilities at stations, the number of bike parking spaces, bike-hire at stations or nearby (with direct links to the bike hire's website). You can also look up rules about taking a bike on trains and if you need to reserve a bike space ahead of travelling specifically to your journey. It's just packed full of really useful information and you can access it all whilst actually planning out your specific journey by tapping or clicking on the bicycle symbol - it's that easy!

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For our family day out using PlusBike, we decided on Cambridge, somewhere we'd never taken the boys before, but a town that I know from past visits has some really pretty quaint little areas to visit.

Travelling by train is always something that feels like a bit of a treat, it's something a bit different to our usual means of transport (the car) and the boys get so excited whenever we tell them that we're going somewhere by train. I find that train journeys always feel like so much more of an adventure than car journeys do.

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We left Milton Keynes train station in the morning and we headed to London to switch trains to take us to Cambridge and the boys were even more excited that part of our journey included us going on the underground in London.

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Several games of 'I spy' later and lots of spotting things out of the windows and we soon arrived in Cambridge.

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We decided that we were going to head straight for a bite to eat to fill our belly's before we went and collected our bikes and right next to the station we found 'The Old Ticket Office' which has been turned into a lovely little restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating.

The boys sat and ate their packed lunch and Adam and I ordered halloumi burgers, which were really good! If you ever visit I totally recommend trying out their 'mock'tails too, they're so refreshing especially on a hot summers day.

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After lunch we headed over to Rutland Cycling, just a few minutes away from the train station across the car park, just as the PlusBike tool had advised us it would be. As we'd already booked everything beforehand it was just a case of collecting the bikes and setting off on our journey. I have to say, after not having been on a bike in over 15 years I was super nervous about whether or not I'd even still be able to ride a bike, but I was also really excited about trying something new and totally different!

The staff at Rutland Cycling helped us to plan out a route that was perfect for us and they even let us borrow an iPhone holder for the bike so that we could follow Apple maps without having to keep stopping. The bike seat attachments for the our bikes were perfect for the boys, Ethan actually told me that he loved being on the back of Daddy's bike 'because he was fast and it was so relaxing'. And Logan loved looking around as we cycled past different places. He was so intrigued by the bike wheels and kept looking down at them.

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We cycled over to Grantchester Meadows which is right by the River Cam, it also takes you by a place called Lammas Land, which is a big park area perfect for families with young children. We actually went back there afterwards to sit and have an ice lolly and let the boys have a go on the bouncy castles. There's a lovely outdoor pool area there too which is perfect for the summer days and also a children's play park. It's probably not somewhere we would have come across had we been in the car, so it was a great little discovery! 

Grantchester Meadows is also lovely for those who want to just enjoy a short bike ride and nothing too intense. It's a relaxing ride and you go over a bridge across the river where there are ducks in the water and lots of punt boats going past. We also cycled past two herds of cows that were just chilling on the grass in the shade next to the pavement. It was really lovely. 

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Having an ice lolly break in the sun at Lammas Land. 

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The boys enjoying the bouncy castles after their ice lollies.

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Logan ready for some more cycling! 

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We kept our bikes all day until we had to return them as the shop was closing and I was sad to give them back. We'd had such a great time riding our bikes for the day and I honestly felt a bit emotional and stupidly proud of myself for doing and enjoying something so much that I wouldn't normally ever think to do. It's made me feel like I want to do it all over again or even go out and buy ourselves some bikes for at home and go on regular family bike rides together. 

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PlusBike is not something that we had heard of before, we had absolutely no idea that such an informative, easy tool was at the touch of our fingertips but we're so glad that we know about it now as moving forward it'll make planning our rail journeys so much more easier. We would definitely use PlusBike again in the future to plan another family cycling day out as we had so much fun at the weekend. We'd like to say a huge thank you to National Rail for working with us on this collaboration, we had such an exciting adventure to Cambridge and we've found something (cycling) that we'd definitely like to do more of as a family.

You can find out more about using PlusBike at plusbike.nationalrail.co.uk.

Watch our video from our day out here:


Thank you for reading. 
Alex xo 

8 comments

  1. I'm keen to go to Cambridge as it looks like such a pretty place and your photos make it look so nice, it was such nice weather when you went x

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  2. I love that this makes it really simple to hire bikes in other places. We normally go everywhere by car but were talking about hiring bikes next time we went away to see more of the places we go. Shall definitely be checking out this service x

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  3. Such a great idea for a family day out. The ease of travelling via train and then collecting your bikes is brilliant. I love the seats on the backs of the bikes, the boys really look like they are comfortable.

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  4. Bike riding is something I've ALWAYS wanted to be able to do, but sadly the severity of my Scoliosis means I can't :( And I've never actually been to Cambridge, either. I'd love to go and explore the city one way or another though. It looks beautiful, and a great place for a family day out. You can see that from the smiles on all of your face's. You all look so happy :)

    Louise x

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  5. I am trying to do more cycling with the kids, so this looks like a brilliant day out

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  6. We were just talking about doing some more cycling trips now the kids are getting more confident on their bikes. This looks great, love the idea of pairing a bike trip with a train trip, my kids would love that!!

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  7. Angela Ricardo Bethea5 August 2018 at 14:45

    Oh, It looks like you really had a wonderful experience and a great family bonding. Biking is so much fun. and a great place to visit too.

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  8. What a great service! I recently went to Center Parcs and got on a bike for the first time in years and like you I was proud at the end of it and didn’t want to give the bike back. This is a great way for people to get out and about on bikes more and I’ll definitely be looking into it

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