Sunday, October 31, 2010

An Autumnal ride - the byways around Quy Lode and of course the Lodes Way

Friday 29th October: I am not quite so sure that "up North" - Durham - is quite so autumnally advanced as I thought. The flatlands are starting to look pretty colourful, probably something to do with a frosts we had last week perhaps. If you are interested the University (Cambridge that is) has a Weather Monitoring station which can be found at this link, they keep daily and monthly records. For October 2010 the minimum temperature was -0.4C on the 21st October at 6am.

As the leaves change very quickly at this time of year I thought I'd better go for a ride out round Snout corner to Horningsea and then back through to Lode and around the Lodes Way with the odd detour. It was a bit windy so taking multiple exposure pictures was tricky, for each picture taken the leaves move and so the whole thing looks like an blurred mess artistic, impressionist picture. Along High Ditch Road, between the old railway bridge and Black House there is a path of concrete alongside the road, which appears on the map to be a non-right of way path to the Newmarket Road P&R. There was one tree looking almost golden alongside the rest of the hedge, which was yet to turn though.


At this time of year Low Fen Drove Way, after the A14 bridge is rather trickier to negotiate, the potholes fill with water, so you can't tell which ones are ok to run through and which ones aren't. The path is also quite muddy as well so sudden turns are not advised as the front wheel can wash away from you. (Where you and the bike both want and expect to turn and yet the front wheel skids along straight and you fall off - sometimes.)

This track seems to dry quite quickly though (Low Fen Drove way) and there can't have been much wind recently as the leaves have dropped vertically from the branches and were just laying around the tree.


The fields alongside the track were almost looking Spring-like with shoots pushing up in rows.


The farm track, which turns off from Low Fen Drove Way near to Snout Corner, had a few puddles and the hedgerows still looked fairly green.


Yet another field looking more Springlike than Autumnal. This picture was taken in the same spot as the last one, but facing outwards. According to the map the trees are the Biggin Pin Plantation. Actually I think the Plantation may be a little more to the left of the picture.


Low Fen Drove Way emerges onto the Horningsea road opposite a private road - Biggin Lane, which takes you to Biggin Abbey which dates from the Late 14th Century with 17th Century additions and alterations. The avenue of trees has certainly synchronised the colour change though.


In fact, avenues of trees starts to become a bit of a theme of this Post. This is the route of the old railway Cambridge to Mildenhall Railway line just behind Anglesey Abbey, which I believe is a permissive Bridleway. This track had a few more puddles and slippery bits of mud on it.


The same track, taken from the Lode end, looking back towards the Quy direction.


Yet another picture taken from the same location, this time taken looking down towards Lode Mill, which is just to the left of shot. It was the Poplar trees turning that got my attention.


Heading along the Fen Road towards White Fen and the Lodes Way I stopped to admire the lode bank repair work or rather maintenance work. I seem to remember that there was work along Bottisham Lode last year - perhaps this is a continuation. I do wonder why this is done. I would have thought that the grass that grows on the top would help to bind the soil, leaving the soil exposed at this time of year would surely make it more prone to being washed away by the rain. A quick trawl of the Web threw up this Excel Spreadsheet from the Environment Agency showing that the work was critical (Monks Lode and Swaffham Lode also have work scheduled and perhaps done). Whoever did it did a neat job.


At this time of year it is common to see Baker's Fen (near Wicken Fen) starting to flood a little. I often take pictures when riding along NCN51. There is not much water yet. I guess that the NT can and do manage the water levels around here. The NCN51 path near where the new Windpump is being built is a bit of a mess at the moment, so be careful.


After a bumpy ride up Newnham Drove, for instead of hauling my bike over the footbridge at Burwell Lode I had detoured into Burwell and then back along the aforementioned bumpy road, this is what I saw. Some kind soul has cut a gap in the gate to make it easier for cyclists and pedestrians to get onto Lodes Way. So I will not have to squeeze though the gap any longer - this means I won't have to worry about eating too many mince pies over Christmas after all. Thank you - to who ever did it, a practical solution if I ever saw one.


MikeC mentioned in his comment that this side of the Fen along Lodes Way would become wetter as the NT manage the water levels. It would seem that some groundworks have taken place in preparation for the new water. A huge chunk has been scraped to reveal the soil.This NT Newsletter (pdf) discusses the original acquisition of Burwell Fen Farm (415 acres) and the plans for it.

Burwell Fen Panorama 2.jpg

One aspect of this ride I do like is that when heading back to Cambridge is that having made the loop there is often a sunset to look forward to at this time of year. The picture was taken from Lodes Way looking across Swaffham Prior Fen as the sun approaches the horizon.


I couldn't stop myself from taking at least one picture from the "new" Reach Lode Bridge - my excuse was the autumnal hedgerow along the underbank path.


Did I mention the sunset? - well here it is. Perhaps I should have waited for the sun to drop to the gap between the clouds and the horizon.


The same picture - but without the benefits of Photomatix to combine various exposures. I also passed a Pony and Trap on my way through to White Fen it had headlights and at first I though it was a slow car - normally they just blind poor cyclists. But the lights weren't bright enough and it wasn't tearing up the road. It was too dark to take a picture though.


On my way back along NCN51 just near the Missing Sock I passed the scene of an accident that had happened earlier that day and closed the road. The first I knew was when I read about on the web. Looking for that link also brought up another in virtually the same place. (Although the pub was called the Prince Albert then.)

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