Monday, October 11, 2010

Cycling on a Sunny Sunday Afternoon - no 2

Sunday 10th October: The need to cut the grass finally caught up with me on Saturday along with the shocking news that the son of some friends was involved in a hit and run accident whilst out on his motorbike on Friday evening. Apparently the ambulance got there 8 minutes after the call and the paramedics were excellent but you do wonder; don't people have any common decency nowadays. He has a few broken bones and had to have an operation on his hand that evening - but hopefully being young he will mend soon enough.

The grass did get cut, but later than planned and it took longer than I would have liked, partly because the grass is still growing with the warm-ish weather and partly because although I claim autumn has yet to arrive there were quite a few leaves on the grass. The mowing combines grass-cutting and leaf-hoovering and far fewer leaves seem to fit into the grass-bucket on the lawn-mower than grass, so I kept having to empty it, at four times the rate I would normally do so. Looking on the bright side leaves and grass cuttings make better compost.

I did get out on Sunday though and the weather was glorious, not quite the 22-23C that parts of the UK had but around 18C here in the Flatlands. Certainly warm enough to be wearing shorts and sandals for cycling and bright enough to need sunglasses. I was also able to catch up on the week's Archers . A good job because the Summer sun is at an end according to the weather forecasters.

I was also delayed getting this Post done. I processed and selected the pictures I liked and put them into a draft Post. (This involves sizing them, adding a boarder and picture titles.) Then when I went to publish the draft Post - which causes the pictures to get uploaded onto my Picasa account the upload failed after the first picture and in the draft all but the first picture was blank. After a bit of playing around (make that a lot) I have finally discovered what the issue is. This first happened to me a while back and I assumed that it was either a problem with my off-line editor or a minor glitch in the way PicasaWeb was operating.

I worked around it at the time and then on a subsequent Post it seemed to be working again so I assumed it was a PicasaWeb glitch. To cut a long story short it turns out to be a problem with the length of the filename that I use for my pictures. I store my pictures in a particular area and subdivide the storage into directories, using the date and places on the route to distinguish them. Then after selection I "export" the selected ones to an even deeper directory. It turned out to be so deep that Zoundry couldn't cope. After shortening the total file name (including directory names) it all worked again.

Although that story misses out a bunch of experiments including editing the HTML directly in many different ways - I had thought it was a problem with the way I set the font and font colour. The clue that got me onto the right track was that the map gets stored in a different directory and uploading it always worked whereas when this set of pictures got stored (and were in a different directory) they never worked and the only real difference was the length of the file name.

So my choice of route for Sunday was influenced by a desire not to cycle along busy roads as I wanted to listen to my MP3 player (The Archers radio serial). As it has been quite wet recently I did not want to end up trudging along muddy byways and I needed some change from my usual routes through Lodes Way. This is what I ended up with - BRT Link. A route of around 66Km/40miles pretty flat, although this one gets higher than most of my routes along Lodes Way in that it reaches 40m above sea level. It has quite a lot of off-road around 50% I would guess and the rest tend to be very quiet country roads. The byways it does use seem to remain drier and less chewed up than the ones more at Fen level. It heads out along NCN51 and turns off at Swaffham Bulbeck to a byway/bridleway that runs alongside the A14 before rejoining the NCN51 not far from Exning. It then takes another byway to Burwell before heading out to Wicken Fen and in a roundabout way to the Lodes Way. The path alongside the A14 does not yet appear on the OSM Map and Google maps don't show paths so Wheres The Path is a good place to look as it shows the byway/bridleway next to the A14 on the 25K OS map.

Cambridge to Wicken Fen via Exning and back via Lodes Way Annotated.jpg

This was really the only puddle on the first bridleway which I just cycled through - slowly just in case of hidden rocks. Although it looks peaceful the A14 is right next door and so was not really the best place to be cycling whilst listening to my MP3 player. I had to turn the volume up a bit, mind you I've never seen anyone else on this path ever, so I was not taking too much of a risk. You can either cycle in the middle or one one of the vehicle ruts either side. The middle is away from the hedge growth but rather less smooth and so slower than taking a rut path. The picture was taken after I went through looking back the way I had cycled. Despite the fact I have never seen other people on the path you can see that it is used, judging from the recent tyre-tracks.


Further along the path it is a bridleway (next one down from a byway) with single track and in places the hedgerow brambles encroach on the path - a good reason for wearing sunglasses.


Some autumnal leaves and incredibly blue skies - this is a single exposure picture - the leaves were blowing around in the breeze to much to be able to take a multi-exposure picture.


At the end of the path it becomes a byway again, at least according to the map - it doesn't look like it though. It emerges to join NCN51 halfway between Exning and Burwell. As soon as I pooped out a cyclist went by. (You might have noticed that most of my pictures of cyclists are taken from behind. No I have not got some strange fetish going on - it just takes me a little time to take my camera out of its semi-waterproof padded bag. I do occasionally take a tumble of my bike and the camera needs a bit of protection and it does rain as well.


This spot would appear to be popular with fly-tippers. It is quiet and out of the way but not so remote that it is too hard to get to. despite the signs there has been some fly-tipping. The rubbish has been spotted and labelled by the Authorities asking for help in identifying the culprits. Later it will be removed.


No sooner had I set off again than I stopped to take a picture of this well trimmed two-step hedge.


The route through Exning actually climbs a short hill - this is the top of that hill (24m above sea level) - quite a leafy lane (North End) with a few leaves already lining the verges. The highest spot of the ride was the previous path alongside the A14 at 40m.


The nice thing about this route is the absence of many cars - North End out of Exning doesn't really go anywhere, except of course to the houses along it and the intersection of a byway and bridleways. I just carried along the byway, called Haycroft Lane. Stopping to admire this well ploughed field and the clear blue skies.


I weaved my way along to Wicken Fen which was teeming with people, many seem quite happy to leave room for a cyclist. With the exception of some dog-walkers who thought it perfectly reasonable to allow their dogs to walk on one side of the road whilst they walked on the other - with their leads stretched across the road. They probably take the same approach when they drive their convoy of 4x4s and People Carriers down the lane to Wicken Fen.

After that I took a roundabout route through Wicken village and along a byway with views across to Ely. The pylons on the picture bypass Ely, to the right. It was the apple tree that caught my eye - one I had not noticed before despite having stood on this spot many times.


The path you can see joins up with a byway into Soham, Ely is to the left of the picture on the horizon.


Just in case you did not believe me about the apple tree - a close up of the apples - almost glowing in the sunshine.


I got back through Wicken Fen with less hassle this time and then headed back down to Burwell and then along Newnham Drove. I see deer along here most times and normally don't stop anymore to take pictures. But this time they were prancing around and I managed to catch this one mid-prance. One thing that the Lodes Way has done for me is to increase the numbers of times I see deer. Mind you previously before it was open I would normally bump into MikeC several times a month (yes I know he is not a deer.). I have not cycled around these parts any less, but the extra length of track to cycle seems to have reduced the probability of our paths crossing.


There were actually three deer this time around. The houses in the background are along Little Fen Drove the road/cycle route between Burwell and Wicken Fen.


Then I joined the Lodes Way route proper, after squeezing through the locked gates where Newnham Drove crosses Lodes Way and headed back towards Cambridge. After crossing the Reach Lode Bridge there was a traffic jam in the road! Actually some cyclists chatting with some dog walkers. This is Split Drove with Reach Lode bridge just beyond the group you can see.


I actually stopped to take a picture of the wide, open, blue sky. Not a cloud in sight, just freshly ploughed fields, with Commissioners' Drain running down the middle and Split Drove to the right. The sun was quite low in the sky by this time - as you can tell from the length of my shadow. If you follow this Streetview Link I was standing against the railings on the right hand side. (Which can also be seen in the shadow.) The picture makes it look as if it were cold - it wasn't really. (The picture is made from 2 (x7) stitched together

Commisioners Drain.jpg

Heading along Headlake Drove I passed a pony and trap with a couple of dogs in attendance. I wonder what route they will follow or will they turn around and go back the way they came? I would imagine that you need a reasonably decent surface to run the trap on or a strong horse.


A picture I have taken many times - perhaps because it it picturesque - Swaffham Bulbeck Lode from the Lodes Way bridge.


It was a surprisingly nice ride, there were quite a few cyclists about all over the route, not just following the Lodes Way, I also passed a good collection of people walking and of course the Pony and Trap. The Lodes Way (and the last sunny weather of the year?) has really gotten people out and about and not in their cars.

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