Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lodes Way now officially open - and jolly good it is too

September 12: Despite there being a Grand Prix on and it starting at 1pm I decided to attend the opening of Lodes Way Bridge (which was at the same time). So I recorded it and then watched it when I got back. I didn't mention that yesterday on my Lodes Way Loop I passed 38 cyclists, including 8 on the new bit of the Lodes Way - which I my mind just goes to show that there is a demand for quiet, safe and pleasant cycle routes - even here in Cambridgeshire.

When I popped out on my Marin to get the Sunday newspapers the back wheel felt squidgy and after pumping it up I was not convinced I did not have a slow puncture - so to avoid being delayed I took my Longstaff - quite muddy from its outing in Bath along the Kennet and Avon Tow path as is happens. It helped as there seemed to be a cool stiff breeze from the north and so the streamlined position helped. (I did wonder whether to put a jacket on but in the end just cycled a bit faster.)

In order to get in a reasonable bit of distance I cycled to Lode by way of Low Fen Drove and the Harcamlow Way - and passed around 5 cyclists on the byways. In fact right from when I set off there seemed to be more cyclists out and about and all waved or said hello. Perhaps it is always like this on a Sunday morning and because I normally cycle later on in the afternoon don't see all cyclists. I set of intending to get in a Loop before arriving at Reach Lode Bridge for the 1pm ceremony and then back to watch the F1 GP.

So I passed over the Lodes Way bridge around 12 ish and already there were cyclists gathering and the BBQ was being lit. I carried on through to Wicken Fen passing more cyclists arriving at the Bridge. When I reached Burwell Lode and the footbridge with ramps there was a traffic jam. A group of cyclists were making their way from Ely and there were people walking as well. I was a little surprised to see so much support for the Bridge/Lodes Way route. Since the Bridge facilitates a walking, riding and cycling route and is not that accessible by car it shows the need for car-free recreational areas.

My loop back to the bridge was through Burwell and then Newnham Drove (for such a bump track I do use it quite a bit). The gate was closed, as it was yesterday so I lifted the bike over and squeezed through - earning some comments from passing cyclists heading to the Bridge from Wicken Fen.

I arrived at the bridge (for the second time) to find it "closed" there seemed to be a game of Connect about to take place on the middle of the bridge and a "block the bridge" demonstration. It was the organisers way of focusing on the "Connect2" program which won lottery money to fund the connection of communities through people-friendly routes. as you can see the disks have the names of local communities - although the Swaffhams seem to have been forgotten?


Two late-comers arriving from Wicken Fen - actually they weren't really late. Here in the flatlands this bridge represents quite a hill - one of them had to walk up it.


There were also a couple of horse riders along for the opening - both horses were very well behaved (as were their riders), The bridge at this point was a bit full so she is watching the opening from the bank of the Lode by the bridge.


There were a couple of speeches - thanking the various bodies and people who made this all happen. This chap led the opening as is from the NT.


Then someone from Sustrans said a few words - the chap in the orange-red t-shirt. We then waited whilst various photographs were taken. (They did say who they were - but I forgot- sorry.)


Then there were burgers supplied and cooked by Spinney Abbey Farm - one of the farms adjacent to the NT at Wicken Fen and a source of traditional meats - the burgers were delicious. I had long stopped counting bikes - but I reckon there were around two hundred people at the opening in total with say 150 cyclists - but that is a guess. There were bikes up and down all the surrounding fences.


Some people dressed up for the event as well - that is a neat mini-Penny Farthing! There were other things happening with Guided Walks and stories for the kids and paddle boarding (I think it is called). I bumped into Mike C (not literally) one of those with involvement with the project. As he suggested in his comment he was indeed listening to the 5Live Radio Commentary on the Monza Grand Prix - so I did not stand too close to him - I did not want to unintentionally hear any news from the GP.


I then nipped home, still meeting people cycling along the Lodes Way - I also noticed that the purple flowers (spuds) were being irrigated - I guess the soil around the Fens does not hold the water that well as this is despite the recent rain.


The clouds looked a little lively just after I passed through White Fen - but despite the cool north breeze it was actually quite a pleasant day. I did notice the breeze a bit more when standing on the Bridge for the opening.


A final thank you to all those who got this route up and running and let's hope there are more to follow (and that the gates at Newnham Drove get sorted).


  1. From the N.T. was Chris Soans, and from Sustrans was Nigel Brigham.

    Your estimate of 200 people is probably right, the plan was to cater for 200 at the barbeque, and the burgers were just about gone by the end -- although I had two.

    Now for the next bridge, in 2012 if all goes well.

  2. Ah - so I should have waited for an extra burger!

    I enjoyed the Grand Prix and managed to see the race without any spoilers. Not a bad race.

    Good luck for the next bridge - looks interesting.

  3. The structure of it is interesting -- well to an ex-designer of steelwork like me. Apparently it's fairly new in the pre-stressed concrete world too. It will be on public display on Sat 18th Sept, from 11:00 to 13:00 at Gardiner Memorial Hall, High St, Burwell.