Monday, June 21, 2010

Off-road cycling around Hadstock - or Broken Bicycle at Bowsers part 1

As I write this post about my cycle ride on Saturday it is difficult to cast my mind back to how cold, windy and showery it was. But, I had only cycled to the Cambridge Railway Station and back for the prior two days. (Well alright there was a little detour to see the cycle path lights on Sustrans 51 near Marshall's Airfield.) So I felt that I had to get out to stretch my legs. For me Saturday is a better day to go for a cycle wander than a Sunday. After the chores are done I can then pop out for the rest of the day without impacting on family plans. The cold weather acts as a barrier that needs to be overcome when I go cycling so I try to create positive reasons to combat the negative weather. So I planned to re-visit the by-way between Linton and Great Chesterford - but this time around I plotted a route making better use of the Roman Road between Cambridge and Balsham (and beyond). I also avoided too much of the A1307 - it is not a cyclist-friendly road. I also took some ham and cheese rolls (plus mustard and sandwich spread) and two Bakewell slices to eat on the way round. Mind you it still felt too cold so I wore a waterproof jacket and waterproof socks to keep my feet warm.

This is the route, you should be able to click on it to get a better view. (It should link through to the Picasaweb copy which can be downloaded). Actually this is not quite the actual route I took. At the start when cycling through Fulbourn I detoured to the Linseed field to take a picture as there was a bit of sun around - it was a good job as I was late returning from the ride because of the mechanical my bike suffered mid-way round and so it would have been too dark.

This is the Linseed field around the back of Fulbourn on the Wilbraham Road. The building in the background is adjacent to the Cambridge - Ipswich Railway Line. I thought that it was used as part of the freight operations but am not really sure. It is now owned by a grain company. I did find a picture of the Fulbourn Railway Station, which no longer exists but was to the right off the buildings you can see.


I took quite a few pictures of the Linseed fields - I managed to include only three in this post. At this point the weather was not too bad - with some blue skies - but there was a lot of cloud cover and some of it was raincloud.


To give a sense of the size of the Linseed field I created this picture taken by combining six pictures. You can see in this picture the clouds were grey.

Fulbourn Flax panorama.jpg

I think that this is Hedge Bindweed (Calystegia sepium) growing in the hedgerow on the other side of the road caught my eye. This HDR picture make it look as if it was sunnier than it really was.


It is quite a problem when found in gardens as it can easily overwhelm more delicate plants as it grows.


After the brief picture interlude I then followed the route shown on the map up the Shelford Road towards the start of the Roman Road. The road starts at 18m above seal-level just at the edge of Fulbourn and climbs 50m to 68m - it is not a bad hill for training on as it is not too long. I then set off down the Roman Road - there were hardly any other people about. Although it was the weekend the grotty weather had put people off, or perhaps there were football matches to be watched.

The Roman Road crosses the A14 at Worsted Lodge. I sometimes see a few cars parked around here - mainly dog walkers. There was a sign which I took a photograph of. It has some useful pictures of the flowers than can be seen along the way as well as a bit of history of this road that was made by the Romans 2,000 years. What is surprising is that it was not subsumed into the road network and tarmacked over. Apparently the A1307 which I have reviled is to be thanked as it runs parallel and removed the need to convert the Roman Road.


I turned off the Roman Road on the B1052 taking a shot-cut byway past the Water Tower and dropping down into Linton. This is much easier than climbing up the hill the last time I was on this byway. Linton was a little confusing - I find myself a little trapped by the one-way system so I headed towards the church along Church Lane and then walked along a path (Horn Lane). When checking Google Maps for the name of the lane it turns out that this building I took a picture is marked as the Linton C Of E Infant School. checking the School website it seems that there is a mistake. I am not sure of the history of the building - but it clearly has some (as well as some love).


The river that Horn Lane crosses over. Actually the path cross the river by a small bridge and there appears to be a ford for vehicles to pass over. Mind you it looked pretty deep and is not marked as a ford on the map. The river is the River Granta and would appear to have caused flooding in the past


I then rejoined the A1307 briefly although I think that I could have cycled along a shared cycleway/path to the Grain Store and the by-way through towards Great Chesterford. There is a sign indicating that it is a byway - you still feel as if you are cycling through someone's factory though. The byway crosses the road and continues to Little Linton, next to Linton - there are footpaths through but not a road or route than can be cycled unfortunately. However the traffic slows through Linton and the short piece of road is not too bad for cycling.

I cycled on through the Grain Store area - when I went through there were quite a few lorries around - but no sign of activity. I dare say it is no so easy to cycle through on a workday. After passing through this is the view that great you. A farm track heading slightly downwards but with some hills in the distance.


This is what the grain Store looks like - a whole bunch of metal silos through which the byway passes. There were further rows behind the ones visible in the picture.


This old shed was just visible in the previous picture but one. It surprises me how many dilapidated building I come across when cycling through the countryside. I guess they must have had a purpose once - indeed this one might still be used to store something or other.


when I saw this flower and took the picture I thought it was a cornflower - but as I remembered when I got back and looked it up Cornflowers are really blue. I now think that this is a Small Scabious (Scabiosa columbaria). They are nectar rich (lots of flowers on a single stalk) and attract a variety of insects apparently.


After the slight dip the path started climbing upwards (in a flatlands-sort of way). Although I have been on this path once before I still love the sense of exploration and heading of into the "unknown". I now it is not really that unknown but by exploring new routes you force yourself to step outside your own preconceptions. It stops you getting too stuck in a rut as you get older. it also might have something to do with my upbringing in the Mendips - as kids we would often set out across the field to "explore" and not return until supper time and it was perfectly normal.


As I was cycling up the hill I did find myself having to change into an easier gear - the hill does not look much but this part of the ride rises from 40m above sea level to 105m. I also struggled a bit with my gears they did a bit of slipping. The trouble is I tend to ride and ride until the chain is so worn that I need to replace my chain and rear block in one go. (The cogs at the back are the rear block.) Normally the gear problems take longer to develop though. I found myself trying to ease of the pressure on the pedals as I climbed.

During one impromptu stop caused by slipping gears I took the opportunity to take a picture of this Sanfoin, a plant that gave me some trouble the first time I tried to identify it.


I managed to get cycling again and carried on up the hill - I knew there were some old farm buildings up ahead, where I had originally planned on eating my ham and cheese rolls. Stopping would depend upon whether it was raining or not.

No comments:

Post a Comment