As matter is pulled towards a black hole, groups of cyclists converging from all points of the compass offer a clue that forces of a more calorific nature are at work. And with a 76 metre diameter, riders should find the steel framed structure hard to miss. Coffee and cake loom large; as does the Jodrell Bank radio telescope with the Planet Pavilion & Cafe attracting a steady stream of cyclists out enjoying a ride to the south of Alderley Edge.
The cafe’s smart and airy seating area extends onto a decked area with the telescope dish providing a suitably grand backdrop. Dedicated bike storage and well-appointed amenities obviously tick boxes as customers walking in cleats can easily outnumber the adjacent Discovery Centre’s visitors.
Completed in 1957 and still the world’s third largest telescope of its type, the motorised structure contains gun turret mechanisms re-used from Royal Navy battleships. Following its initial tracking of Sputnik 1, the world’s first artificial satellite, the telescope continues to be operational and used for a range of scientific programmes and observations.
Located amongst a network of quiet Cheshire lanes and bordered by several Sustrans routes, the site at Jodrell Bank is a popular and convenient stopping point for rides heading south out of Manchester. The cafe is comfortable, the welcome is friendly and the portion size of cakes of a scale that matches the nearby structure. The only problem is down to its popularity. Now where did I leave my bike?