Chisholm Trail - Background

The Chisholm Trail is an exciting new walking and cycling route, creating a mostly off-road and traffic-free route between Cambridge Station and the new Cambridge North Station. It will link to Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the Biomedical Campus in the south and to the business and science parks in the north, forming part of a 26 kilometre route from Trumpington and Addenbrooke's to St Ives. The central section from Cambridge Station to Cambridge Station, the Chisholm Trail, is a 3.5 kilometre route.

Map showing phases 1 and 2 of the Chisholm Trail

The route


In Chesterton, the Trail will access the Cambridge North Station via Moss Bank and join up with the track alongside the Busway.

  • The existing towpath along the river will be resurfaced and widened in this area.
  • A new bridge close to the existing railway bridge will allow the Trail to continue across the river. Known currently as the ‘Abbey-Chesterton bridge’, this £4.5m project is funded separately. Planning permission for the Abbey-Chesterton Bridge was granted in February 2017.
  • The existing narrow wooden jetty under the railway bridge will be widened. This will not hamper rowing.
  • On Ditton Meadows a path will follow the field boundary by the railway line.


  • The route will follow the stream to the Leper Chapel, Cambridge’s oldest complete building, on land owned by Cambridge Past, Present and Future.
  • A new underpass below Newmarket Road will be needed to ensure a safe and direct crossing for Trail users while not impacting on traffic on this key bus route. Given the historical significance of the area, the underpass would be carefully designed to reflect its surroundings.
  • The area around Barnwell Lakes has potential to be developed for public access. Possible options include improved car parking, access for disabled people or a café, subject to planning permission.


  • The path across the Common will be upgraded and widened. The sight lines around the existing underpass will be improved. There are opportunities for landscaping, planting and habitat creation in this area.
  • A new crossing point may be needed on Coldham's Lane.


  • When the Trail reaches Coldham's Lane, cyclists can choose to cross Coldham's Lane Bridge and continue their journey on very low traffic streets to the north of the railway line. Cyclists can access the Beehive Centre, York Street, Ainsworth Street, Hooper Street and the area next to the Mill Road Depot site.
  • Access to the proposed path along the railway line on Network Rail land is through the Ridgeons site which is soon to be developed, and the adjoining Network Rail land. Parking would be unaffected, and there are opportunities for improvements such as road resurfacing and planting.


  • The proposal is to continue the path through the currently unused arches of Mill Road Bridge on both northern and southern sides, avoiding on-road hazards. The route would run between the railway line and boundary fencing along tracks that are currently used for works vehicles. In this area, fencing and new gates for Network Rail maintenance access will be needed to ensure safety.
  • The cycleways on both sides of the railway line in this area would be around 4m wide, with occasional widenings and narrowings. On the southern side a new ramp might be needed to join the Trail to the Carter Bridge. Access to the Trail could be created from William Smith Close and Argyle Street.
  • The southern Busway and Trumpington Park & Ride are reached across the new Station Square.

The Chisholm Trail (CT) is a strategic, transport project that will provide a largely off-road foot and cycle link between the Cambridge Rail Station and the new North Cambridge Station crossing the river at the location of the proposed Abbey-Chesterton Bridge adjacent to Ditton Meadows. The route will provide off-road links to key business, residential and commercial areas allowing people to travel easily across city without the use of their cars.

The key benefit of the route is that it would provide direct, quicker and safer cycle and walking access for residents travelling within the City, north-south, or vice-versa. The proposed Trail will link into a network of existing cycle ways and create a high quality route from Addenbrookes Hospital in the south of Cambridge to St Ives in the north-west of Cambridgeshire, using the Guided Busway.

The Trail will be built in phases and is expected to be completed over a period of three to five years. It is possible that we will be working on some phases consecutively. Some stretches of the Trail will be quicker to implement than others.

The Chisholm Trail forms a key backbone route for cyclists and pedestrians from one end of the city to the other. The route will link to each end of the Busway at the current rail stations, providing a largely off-road route from St Ives to Trumpington.

Through the Trumpington Busway, the Chisholm Trail also connects to the proposed Cambridge South rail station, and the Cambridge South East Transport project, which will provide an off-road cycle route from the Cambridge Biomedical campus/Addenbrookes, out to the A11 and Granta Park/Abington, and on to Linton.

Ongoing design work on the Greenways projects, Cambridge Eastern Access, and Waterbeach to Cambridge all take the Chisholm Trail into account

This route has been chosen because it is the quickest, most practical and direct means to get from Cambridge Station to the Cambridge North Station whilst keeping users away from busy traffic. The Trail follows the railway line where there is space available and links a number of green areas together. Some of the rail corridor is unavailable due to new developments and operational rail infrastructure.

The use of an underpass will avoid an increase in the use of the existing toucan crossing, which would further delay road users on this key bus route. Should an underpass go ahead, the toucan crossing will remain in order to serve existing users.

An underpass will provide access to the Leper Chapel and links to the green spaces. We will look to make the underpass attractive to reflect those materials used in the Leper Chapel. It will be lit and designed to be as sympathetic as possible to the historic surroundings.

The Green Dragon Bridge is not part of the proposed route of the Chisholm Trail. To cross the river at this point would require about 1 mile of extra travel, which is particularly disadvantageous for pedestrians. The Trail needs to be direct and convenient in order to encourage modal shift from motor vehicles to means of sustainable travel and thus reduce congestion.

The width of the cycleway will vary along the route as space allows and in order to take into account the surrounding area. 

The route will be lit where this is considered necessary. We are consulting as to whether lighting is appropriate at the Stourbridge Common/Ditton Meadows area. (Coldham's Common is currently lit.) Lighting is likely to be one of the key issues raised and debated in the consultation. Solar studs may be appropriate in some locations.

Sight lines and headroom improvements are being considered for the underpass on Coldham's Common. 

We’ve been working alongside Cambridge City Council’s Tree Officer, and all works are being carried out with their knowledge and agreement.

We have employed a qualified and highly experienced Ecological Clerk of Works to oversee every aspect of the scheme and to stop works in the event that birds are nesting or protected species are found.

All trees have been assessed for bats by experts and surveyed at height using a cherry picker aerial access platform.

Bat and owl boxes will be installed in suitable trees as part of our mitigation work and commitment to longer term environmental improvements.

We are currently carrying out enabling works to prepare for the building of the Chisholm Trail, which requires the removal of some trees and shrubbery. The trees that were removed are not the subject of any tree preservation orders.

All work has been carefully planned to be as conservative to trees as possible. Many of the large trees were in a dangerous condition and posed a severe threat to those in nearby premises.

Much of the apparent damage to the trees has been caused by grazing livestock ‘ring barking’ trees over years. This has allowed irreversible decay to set in.

Every effort has been made to spare healthy trees through the construction works:

  • The Chisholm Trail will be constructed using ‘no-dig’ methods where necessary between Newmarket Road and Ditton Meadows. This method is designed to have negligible impact on the root zone of existing and newly planted trees.
  • Cambridge City Council’s Tree Officer led a walk through survey of the scheme near the Leper Chapel to identify any additional trees that could be spared by the judicious use of pollarding. This will allow some additional larger specimen trees to live on for years whilst the new tree planting establishes itself.
  • Whilst works have been underway, there has been extensive use of root protection matting to avoid damage by vehicles to the root zone of remaining trees.

The enabling work are conducted with the full permission and consent of the landowners, with the agreement of Planning Officers and in accordance with the planning approval. All trees have been assessed and inspected as part of the submission that was taken through the planning process.

Vegetation clearance work has been undertaken in a number of stages because of the different landowners involved. For instance, work on the railway requires special consent and working practices to be agreed and observed throughout.