It was such a lovely day that I thought I would stick to tracks as much as possible and also try out some new ones after a bit of map study. I use a great website - www.bikehike.co.uk which brings up a Google map alongside an Ordnance Survey map. Cursors in each window allow you to compare the two maps and see the level of detail you expect from the OS map The only downside is that the Creator as a deal which limits the number of OS pages he can serve. So by the end of the day if the quota has been used you don't get the OS Map displayed.. You can create on and off-road routes and download them to a GPS system as well. Most of the time I just look around areas and check out what by-ways there are and head out to try them out. I f ind that the byways of Cambridgeshire are rarely heavily used, making them much easier and more pleasant to cycle along than the shared-use cycle/pedestrian ways. Roads require concentration, 'cos it definitely feel like some motorists are out to get you and shared cycleways require concentration to avoid the slower moving pedestrians (and their dogs). Whereas the tracks just require concentration on the track itself, when cycling along you have to pay attention to the surface, ruts can be quite off-putting and so can sandy surfaces. With ruts you can find the bike steering itself and with soft surfaces the front wheel can dig in and the bike tries to stop. Actually for me the most difficult tracks are rutted and muddy ones - they clog up the brakes and wheels as well.
How about this for a track, it is surfaced road but where you turn of a road proper to get onto it there is an earth bank to stop motor vehicles, which means that apart from the odd motorcycle you can't get any cars out this way. I have noticed that wherever there is a walk cars will park to access the walk which is understandable but can be irritating for the locals. There is more to come on that subject as the Wicken Fen Vision has ruffled some feathers here in Cambridgeshire and I will comment on it in another post.
It was a very pleasant path which passed some large yellow fields! which at this time of year have quite a strong smell, some hate it, but for me it is not a problem
When cycling in this part of the world there are not many very long off-road tracks so when back on the road I sometimes explore all of the dead ends - roads that go nowhere. I was cycling through the village of Horningsea which is close to the river cam. One "No Through Road" in the village lead to this lovely view of the River Cam.
Another road led to this less idyllic cottage in need of some TLC (Tender Loving Care). Judging from the cracks in the wall the building has lost its structural integrity and will need some significant work. It is up for auction so anyone up for it? You could also appear on the Channel 4 program "Grand Designs" which follows the fortunes of people building and renovating houses.
Out of Horningsea I was able to get back onto tracks which lead back to Quy there is quite a lot of "common" ground and some unexpected views. This is a rather nice "pond" judging from its appearance it was excavated as it is a bit linear. Whilst cycling along the track bu the pond I did pass one or two walkers. I generally say hello to people as I pass them and alway (nearly) say thank you when dogs are restrained or people step to one side to allow me to pass. In this case the "gentleman" I passed appeared to be carrying his trousers! Here in the UK it is quite usual to see men not wearing shirts in such circumstances, getting a bit of suntan, but very rarely do you see someone wearing a T-shirt but no trousers. It certainly flummoxed me and I did not give a cheery greeting as I passed. Later I passed a gentleman carrying a crash helmet but appeared to have just gotten out of a car - hum the plot thickened, but not sufficiently that I wanted to turn back!
After that excitement I headed to White Fen. I regularly pass a couple of Herons, but by the time I have gotten my camera out they fly off into the distance, even if I try to creep up on them a car passes by and scares them into flight. To prove I really do see them he is a short video clip of one of the Herons flying away. Although given the resolution of these clips you can be forgiven for not believing me,
Back off the road I passed a field that previously had been sheets of plastic, acting as a mini-greenhouse. It is amazing how quickly the plants had grown - although I am not sure what they are. It shows how the warm weather has accelerated plant growth from trees to weeds.
This clip shows the Farmer in his tractor stripping away the plastic from the field. Like many such agricultural tasks it seems that someone has designed a tractor firment to speed it up.
It is not just the plants enjoying the Spring. Here are some deer I spotted in the field alongside the road to Upware. As well as these two live deer there was also a dead deer by the roadside.
And of course the obligatory video clip of the deer running away.
The route took me past Wicken Fen and the day before, which was much windier, I saw the local windmill spinning away:
Back to todays sunny exploration day I headed for a track that I had not cycled along before. It is always good to know that there will not be any stunt motorcycles jumping cars as I cycle along. This track heads from Burwell to Exning, a place that claims to have had both Queen Boadiccea and Saint Ethelreda as inhabitants (see more at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exning).
This sort of track on a lovely day with not a soul around makes for a great route to explore on a bicycle.
Every now and then the hedgerows open out onto the flat farmlands of the Fens.
Whilst at other times paths cross which require further exploration. This path I came across was quite tricky to cycle along in places as there were quite a few freshly sawn stumps, but I cycled along it where it came out on a road and then back to the first path so I got some practice in.
After a bit of boring road I came upon another path that I sort of knew about but had never ventured along. It took me by the A14 - a main road in these parts, but went on for quite a few miles - again not a soul on the path.
Some thoughtless git had decided to dump some rubbish on the path, but it looked like the motor vehicle users of the path just barged on through. I hope I don't get asbetosis from it.
By the end I had cycled along several paths that I had not been along before despite living in the area for around 20 years! My total journey was around 60Km of which a third was not on road. In fact a quarter of the total journey was on track and 10 percent was on share cycle/walk ways. You are never to old to learn!