The weekend again and a sunny Saturday - what could be a better day for cycling - although the shopping has to get done first. I have four approaches to choosing where to cycle. Sometimes I will look at the map and then see where I haven't been before and head out to explore. My route when I have a fixed amount of time is to pop around Wicken Fen with either short-cuts or long-cuts depending upon how much time I have, or I plan a route either over a couple of days or with a railway station as the ultimate destination (to provide a way home). The final method - I just head out to see where the wind takes me! For choice I prefer to head out onto quiet roads and Sustrans routes when exploring. Generally the routes are pretty reasonable on a hybrid bike, but do tend to be quiet and offer some interesting scenery. When meandering I add by-ways and farm tracks to the equation - they are normally quiet and offer lovely scenery, but they are not always fast or easy.
With the pleasant weather I find myself heading out over the byways around Horningsea, Lode and Quy quite a lot at the moment - in some ways they have become an alternate start to my ride around Wicken Fen. Here is a view from the bridge over the A14 on the Low Fen Drove Way which leads off High Ditch Road. In fact a quick look at the map suggests that the clump of trees in the background on the right is called Upper Norris.
This time I also checked how many drain covers were missing - 25 out of 26 - my guess is they have been stolen from scrap and whoever did it could not lift one of them. I guess with times getting harder (with need to sort out the UK's large deficit) we might see more crime?
Low Fen Droveway then either turns a corner or the by-way is un-named - either way this is it and it shortly passes Snout Corner. This sort of track requires a bit of care - but is fun and helps my balancing skills. The reason I took the photograph is the Oxfam sign - a reminder to check it out when I get back to a computer. I turns out that there is an Oxfam Walk on the 16th of May. There are various routes ranging from 3 to 26 miles. Although I will happily cycle 100+miles (160+Km) walking uses a different set of muscles. As a student I once walked 26 miles with a friend in Wales. At the end before we drove back over the Severn Bridge we stopped to get a snack and I could barely hobble over the road - in the end I had to hold my hand up to halt the traffic. (This was not the Motorway of course - just the service road.) As it happened I saw quite a few of these signs as I cycled around - they have certainly planned some nice routes for the walk.
Just before Low Fen Drove Way joined the Horningsea Road I took this picture of the village of Horningsea in the distance - a very pleasant leafy little village. The new shared cycle path between Horningsea and Fen Ditton has not yet had a layer of tarmac added (in case you are wondering).
After cycling through Horningsea I followed the Harcamlow Way off towards Quy, past Allicky Farm and then over the route of the disused Cambridge to Mildenhall Railway Line (for the second time of what will be 5 or 6 times) back towards Quy along Station Road - pausing to take this picture of Quy Water looking towards Anglesey Abbey (to the left is the route of the Harcamlow Way I think- only a footpath though - so not "navigable" by bicycle. So I end up cycling along the B1102 - quite a busy and fast road - following the IAM advice I "claim the lane". Pretty much most cars respect my position and overtake with plenty of room - in fact probably only two or three vehicles drove as if they only just noticed me as they whizzed past. Do the people of make up this advice base it upon well tested data, do they try it themselves or is it all just theory. The problem is it only takes one idiot to kill or maim a cyclist and you don't get your life back because the driver was at fault.
After reaching White Fen I cycled briefly alongside Swaffham Bulbeck Lode before turning back towards the road near Highbridge Farm. In fact the farm as at the far corner of the field in this photograph - the crop - turf. The farm appears to be set up for horse-riding - I do not know who farms this field.
As I wasn't in a hurry (and it was such a pleasant afternoon) my plan was to cycle along Headlake Drove and Split Drove and then left up Straight Drove towards Upware. That way I avoided any traffic until I rejoined the Upware Road. It seems that this part of Headlake Drove (just where it turns into Split Drove) is a popular spot for setting fire to stolen (I assume) vehicles. I am guessing it is stolen - that is why it has been burnt out - to destroy any fingerprint/DNA evidence. when you see the result it is frightening how flammable cars/vans are.
As you can see this was a van, once upon a time. It is as if the tyres had been taken off and not just burnt off. Maybe they were stolen? This is why we end up paying higher vehicle insurance rates and local taxes.
Just at the end of Split Drove looking towards Reach I took a picture of this field - a couple of weeks ago it was full of Leeks - - they were cleared by hand and now it is ready to "grow" again.
From the same place, but turning towards Reach Lode - the site of the new Lodes Way bridge - they are getting on with it - I wonder when the bridge will be "craned" into place.
After cycling up Straight Drove for a bit I took this picture of the Bridge from a distance - they have done a good job of designing something that fits in, in my opinion.
The spot I had stopped at was where the track - Straight Drove became the "road" - Harrison's Drove. This is Harrison's Drove, not to be confused with the one that is a few 100metres away and runs in a parallel direction on the other side of Reach and Burwell Lodes. This bit is very lumpy cracked gravel and tarmac, after a while it turns into better and flatter un-cracked tarmac before joining the Upware Road. The concrete bridge provides access to the fields on the other side of Commissioners' Drain.
This is the bit of Straight Drove I had just cycled up - a very rutted track - almost impassable when very wet and muddy - on a dry day a series of ruts to hop the bike into and out off - trying not to fall into the Drain alongside.
After Upware the route reaches the A1123 or Stretham Road - today it was closed with a sign preventing cars (technically vehicles) from turning right towards the village of Wicken - the way I wanted to go. Detours are a nuisance in a car - they add a bit of delay - on a bicycle they can be a nightmare, once such a detour added 20miles/32Km to a journey I took. Rarely do the detours indicate how much further they are, there is an assumption that is is not that important. Quite often though they are passable by bike - either by walking past on the pavement or in a field if necessary. The detour in this case was caused by a serious car accident in which a car had run into a ditch.
Two other cyclists were at the junction wondering what to do so I took the initiative and against the advice of the sign I cycled up the road towards the Police car blocking the road. (I pulled my earphones out of my ears - so as not to look too irresponsible). The policeman was very helpful in guiding me along a back route around the village. Now this was the route I normally take anyway - it is called Lower Road and is also the Sustrans 51 route from Ely to Wicken. The only snag was that all the cars coming from the other direction were being re-routed along it to by-pass the scene of the accident. This meant that a normally very (very) quite road - where I occasionally see a tractor or land rover had streams of cars - many of them were clearly not at all happy at having been delayed and forced to take such a "lower-class" road and they were even less happy to slow down for a cyclist travelling in the other direction.
At one enforced stop - to avoid being run off the road I took the opportunity to take a photograph of this barn - something I had been meaning to do for a while in any case. On seeing the results, and this is the best of a few shots, I can see I will have to add it to the list of things I need to have another go at.
After the drama of the accident I headed back home through quite a busy Wicken Fen. (I hope that those involved are ok - it is always sobering to see results of an accident and a reminder of the importance of being vigilant.) I could not resist this picture of the Oilseed Rape at the corner of White Fen near Swaffham Bulbeck Lode - this time it was the rays of sunlight (miracles as my son used to call them when he was young)
I also remembered to take a picture of the unidentified tree - I will also have a look back through some older photographs to see if I have caught it in leaf.
Whilst cycling through White Fen I was struck (not literally) by the number of dandelion clocks - these were yellow flowers a few days ago and now they have turned to seed. No wonder they are difficult weeds to get rid of. (Although a weed is what you call a flower you don't want!) So I stopped and lay down to take some pictures of the dandelion clocks. As is the case two cyclists happened by and gave me a funny look - mind you they stopped just up the way to take a picture of the yellow Oilseed Rape field.
I also discovered there were stinging nettles (stingles) in the field - not that painful - but persistent - I could feel the tingle the next day.