Saturday, June 12, 2010

A ride in slightly sunnier Fens - some flowers from the Lodes

Today was a pootling day - I had not gotten out on my bike the day before and it was Friday so I though I would just pop out towards the end of the day and see where my wheels took me. Which of course for regular readers of this Blog really means a cycle around the Fens. Although in this case I headed out towards Quy and then down Station Road. However before I start I must just comment of the fact the it is Open Farm Sunday on Sunday 13th. I keep passing signposts for this at Spinney Abbey Farm, Wicken, CB7 5XQ. It is on the outskirts of Wicken village near the Upware Road. Regular listeners to the Archers will already know this - but in any case - here is a farm to visit if you are out cycling around Wicken Fen on Sunday 13th June.

The route through Quy ends up taking a by-way called The Drove Way, at least I think this is. After passing over Stone Bridge the by-way is on the right hand side of the road and looks like this. I passed three horse-riders today. as you can see the weather was a bit overcast - but it did not look as if it was going to rain.


While cycling along the track and passing the horses and saying hello I noticed some dandelions (Taraxaxum). so took a picture. It always amazes me how quickly they pop up in the lawn.


The meandering took me to Lode by way of the NT permissive by-way, the old railway track along the back of the Anglesey Abbey Estate. On the Fen Road (from Lode to White Fen) I spotted these little purple flowers. I think the plant is the Hedgerow Crane's-bill (Geranium pyrenaicum).


The other "notable"bit of vegetation was something I used to call Dock Leaves. When I was a lad we used to think that these leaves would alleviate the pain of a stinging nettle rash if you rubbed them on the affected area. We also used to think that Stinging nettles and Dock grew in close-ish proximity. am not sure that I ever noticed any real benefit - I think that is was more distraction therapy. With the warm weather and rain lots of plants including stinging nettles. I think this variety of Dock is the Broad-leaved Dock (Rumex obtusifolius), if you follow the Wikipedia link then it notes the belief that the plant can help alleviate stings and also that it grows near stinging nettles. Perhaps there is something in these old-cyclists tales!


If you look at the OS map for this part of the Fens - along by White Fen it seems that this small part has now officially been marked as Sustrans 11 - although it is only 7 Green splodges long and goes no-where at the moment. A week or so ago this field was looking in dire need of some water with the plants going a browny-yellow in colour - now they are flourishing.


The leaves remind me of beetroot, although it could be some form of spinach or sugar beet? They are planted closer together than I would expect for a plant with a large root though.


My ambling took me along Headlake Drove out towards the new Reach Lode Bridge. It looks like the Council is getting so fast at spotting and removing burnt-out cars that one has been and gone from this spot. You can see the remains of the car, mainly the glass and the damage to the immediate vegetation but no car. I am impressed with the speed of clearance, but a little surprised why we seem to be getting so many burnt-out cars out here - it seems to be a popular dumping ground!


At the end of Split Drove a view of the new Reach Lode Bridge. Soil has been added to the banks of the ramps and it looks as if a track has been formed to allow vehicles to drive around the bridge. I was wondering how diggers, used to repair the top of the bank, would make their way round it - the darker brown track would seem to be the answer.


After reaching the end of Split Drove I turned left off to Upware along Straight Drove. The track was a little wet and slippery in places but passable on a bike with a little bit of care. I did find myself jumping off the bike at one point as I slid down into a rut.


Just after crossing Reach Lode at Upware there is a small by-way that takes you to the river, past the 5 Miles from Anywhere pub and along Old School Lane. I learnt to roll over in a canoe on this bit of water - the River Cam. The Five Miles Inn website is actually quite hard to find using Google. A search throws up loads of "Good Pub" websites and a few of them point to the wrong web address. It is (It is slightly unusual to use a ".com" domain rather than "" domain for what is essentially a UK business.


Just before the Upware Road (on the other side) joins the A1123 signs of blue sky and rays of sun falling on what is perhaps a trial in the middle of a field of flourishing crops? (This is something my son might understand - I'll check with him.)


On my way through the Wicken Fen Nature Reserve, by way of Sustrans 11 I stopped alongside Wicken Lode and took "lodes" of pictures of the aquatic flowers. I know these as Water=lilies and am not wrong. The white-flowers one is the White Water-lily (Nymphaea alba)and yes you've guessed it the other one is the Yellow Water-lily (Nuphar lutea). At least the Latin names are different. Although I "learnt" Latin at school it was not really about plant names so I am not sure of the derivations.


This lily-pad makes a good landing site for the dragonfly - there were loads flying around - not many stopped still enough for me to get a picture though.


I took this picture because of the water "pacmen".


The next two pictures are of the same scene. The first is a single exposure of the yellow lilies sticking up from an almost opaque water with black "shadows".


The same scene - made up from different exposures - the water is a little more transparent and you can see that the shadows are really reflections as they have colour in them.


As you can see I did take quite a few pictures of the lilies.


With a bit of patience I managed to get another picture of a dragonfly on a lily landing-pad. Comparing the two dragonfly pictures it appears to be the same leaf - not sure about the dragonfly though.


I know this plant as the White Deadnettle (Lamium album) which I had assumed was a local name (to Somerset). It was not actually "dead" but called dead because it did not sting. However looking closely at this picture I am not so sure that it is a Deadnettle - the leaves of the genuine Deadnettle look more like an ordinary stinging nettle. This plant has more pointy leaves without the serrations. I will have to check it out again.


Before leaving Wicken Fen time for a quick picture of the semi-wild Konig ponies. The only wild thing about them is the way they are allowed to roam. They are in fact a very inquisitive animal and do not seem at all alarmed if you have to walk though the herd. hey sometimes crowd around the path and with a bike it can be tricky finding a way around - hence I go through the middle.


I mentioned a Leak in Lode in a previous Post - it is still leaking. The leak is coming from the water Meter cover. Not all houses have a Water Meter in the UK, but many do. In theory the householder is responsible for leaks from their side of the meter - whilst the Water Company will cover the cost of a leak from their side. In practice the Water Company (in this area) will cover the cost of one "Householder leak". The leak has been reported - it has acquired some blue pain to mark it out - but I am surprised that the householder has not lost water pressure with so much water coming out.


For a Friday evening cycling amble that certainly hit the spot and the weather was not too bad either.

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