Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Winter's Tale - cycling from Cambridge to Kings Lynn Part 2

I have put a picture of the BRT map of my ride from Cambridge to King's Lynn in the Post just to make it easy to refer to (along with the link). I also realised that I had not put in a link into Part 1 of the Post so I have gone back and added it.

Yesterday was one of those days when you find out the truth behind the statement "too many gadgets". My desktop computer was playing up. I had to take some pictures and send them off to a friend - easier said than done. My all-in-one card reader, bought in Bangkok, when on my Bangkok to Saigon cycle tour, was not recognised. Further investigation suggested a reboot - but not before I had started a software update (for Internet Explorer - which I don't use!). The update went on forever, or should that be for-never and my computer would not shut down which meant holding down the on-off button.

Once the machine had re-booted on the second go when I logged in it couldn't find my set up, so none of my files were available. I logged off and on again and it seemed to be OK. Then when editing yesterday's Post and listening to the radio (via the Internet) there was a strange scratch like noise and the audio stopped - then other things stopped working. So I rebooted it again and although this time around it was fine I ran a series of data backups (and Synctoy). A search of the error logs show the results of the problem (failure to re-boot etc) but did not really highlight any particular cause. So this weekend I will run some checks on the disk, make a full system back up and have a look at maybe adding a new boot hard-disk into the machine.

I was also worried that it would cause problems with my draft Posts as I had uploaded the pictures for Part 1 and Part 2 ahead of writing the words and sometimes the pictures then have problems! Fortunately the Posts seemed to be ok - oops spoke too soon, this post re-uploaded several pictures.

So far we have not had any snow, but we have had a bit of ice. So it was good to hear that Cambridge County Council is prepared with a Quad bike de-icer to keep the important cycle paths and foot paths clear over the winter.

The railways have also been in the news with the Railways to get £8bn investment - which sounds a lot but it seems that fares will go up immediately and improvements in some areas will be around in a couple of years time. The good news for this region is that upgrade to Anglia's rail freight route has been approved. The work will be completed by 2014 and will "take 750,000 lorries off Britain's roads by 2030". (A slightly ambiguous statement is that total, per year...) It also appears that the the conflict between motor traffic and the railways got more up close and personal - Car on train line stops National Express services. A car skidded onto the railway line near Kennett and affected services between Ely and Ipswich.

And finally, well before getting back to the real subject of the Post - Work is started on bike lane project. The new cycle lanes are being painted on Gilbert road, although the yellow lines to prevent parking will painted after Christmas. Actually there was one other item that my attention was directed to by a Post by Freewheeler of Crap Cycling & Walking in Waltham Forest, cycling casualties there have hit a five year high. There were 93 bicycle casualties in 2009 compared with 65 in 2008 - whilst pedestrian, motorcyclist and car drivers casualties fell in the same period. He is right, it really must be Crap cycling there.

So back to the matter in hand - the last Post finished near Welney.

Cambridge to Kings Lynn.JPG

The NCN11 route is only on the A1101 briefly before turning onto an unnamed country lane which passes Welney Nature Reserve. The address for the Wetland Centre appears to be Hundred Foot bank - so there you have it - not unnamed after all. The road then jinks East towards Ten Mile Bank, but there is a track, marked as a bridleway that carries straight on and meets the NCN11 at Denver Sluice that looks shorter - so I must give it a go when the weather is a little drier.

All along the roads around here are longs piles of sugar beet that has been recently harvested and are presumably awaiting pickup for transportation to the nearby Sugar Factor - Wissington. I was thinking of measuring the total length of all the piles of sugar beet along this road - but lost track looking around - there were several of this length though.


Welney Wetland Centre has buildings on one side of the road and a huge bridge across the river to the washes. Here it is seen from near the pile of Sugar beet. The visitor information page of the centre does provide a phone number for the floodline - just in case.


Ten Mile Bank is a small settlement along three limbs of the cross roads with the fourth limb a bridge over the River Great Ouse. This picture is taken from Ten Mile Bank looking along the bridge over the river towards Southery. The smoke (or moist air?) in the background is rising from the Wissington Sugar Factory I think.


This is the view down river. The geese can get aggressive. I have had them come hissing at me when sitting on a seat just to out of shot on the right of the picture. It could have been the jelly babies they were attracted by.


Talking of jelly babies I did open my packet and scoff a few - can't afford to bonk especially on such a cold day.This crossroads is also a confluence of several cycle routes including NCN11, Regional Route 30 and the Southern Loop of the Fens Cycleway. You know what, I even occasionally see other cyclists along here as well! So "X" marks the spot. For a while I had noticed a clunking sound which I thought was something in my rack pack banging around - it wasn't. The rear mudguard had divided into two pieces and the rear piece was bouncing around on its stays. I had two choices leave it or take it off and abandon it (in a suitable waste bin obviously.) I figured it would probably not get jammed in my rear wheel so I left it in place - at least I would get some protection from mud being thrown up. All these rough tracks do take their toll on a push bike.


Another view towards the Wissington Factory - which I took to note the name of the road - Modney Bridge Road. A quick web search showed that there is an airstrip near Southery with a company called ST Aviation with facilities there.


Further up the road on the way to Denver Sluice another railway line crosses the River Great Ouse. This the King's Lynn to Cambridge railway line. As you can see it is an electrified line (done in 1992). When I catch the train back, if I am not feeling too weary I try to compare the lie of the land from the train with the way it looks when cycling.


After passing through Downham Market, actually that should be after wiggling through, the NCN11 route goes around the houses (and a school and Tescos) the route passes through a few Norfolk villages, most large enough to have a shop or two - which is good for emergency rations. (There are some bridleways around Wimbotsham that look to be worth exploring next time I am up there.) NCN11 then joins up with NCN1 for the rest of the route into King's Lynn. The route goes "off-road" around King's Lynn Power station, seen here from the east side and follows the river into King's Lynn. (The Streetmap OS shows the old routing for NCN11 to the West of the Power Station.)


The route passes under the A17 and then a smaller road seen here passing over the river. The bridge appears to be called Free Bridge on the OS Map.


This river is tidal (I assume) it certainly looks it from the green growth around the concrete pillars.


Further along the cycleway I took this picture looking back. Despite my fears that there might be snow in the cloudy skies I had been lucky so far.


In common with other cycling and walking routes there are some quirky wooden statues - which are I assume, depicting smugglers. I am struggling to find any reference on the Internet though.


On the way in through King's Lynn I have passed this old brick "gate" many times and wanted to take an uncluttered picture, normally there are cars parked around it. This time it seems that a new road is being build, just to the left and there were no cars - so here it is - the Carmelite Arch, a remnant of the time when Carmelite Friars lived in the area.


When I reached the station I was in no doubt, I got a ticket to Cambridge (£8.40) rather than Ely. You don't realise it but riding on a cold day takes it out of you - you need to burn extra energy to generate some warmth. I also got a freshly made sausage sandwich at the Station cafe - it was delicious. The train also arrived as my sandwich was being made so I was able to settle in the warmth and have a late lunch with a few jelly babies for dessert.

It was a real struggle to stay awake on the journey back to Cambridge and it would have been quite pleasant getting off at Waterbeach and cycling alongside the Cam back into the city. There are no special areas for bikes on the train, so you have to park you bike in a doorway. Fortunately all the stations are on the left side of the train until you get to Cambridge so you don't have to keep moving your bike. A few more bikes (and their riders) got on at Ely - most of them were school children on their way home. My rear light did turn on at one point as the train went over a bump. I had my eyes half closed and wondered why there was a red flashing light - until I realised it was mine.

I almost forgot to highlight the other irritation - no drying space on trains! It is my fault really, I had a headband and hat on for my cycle ride and both were wet with sweat when I reached King's Lynn, the trouble is they don't have enough time to dry out on the journey home and it is pretty horrible putting on a wet hat even for the short ride home (I left the sweatband off).

When I got back to Cambridge I did see a few flakes of snow (or lumpy bits of rain) but nothing serious. I also seem to be having problems with my new Speedo, despite replacing both the Speedo and Sensor batteries it keeps on reporting low battery levels. I must get around to sending off a query to the manufacturers. When I got home I was surprised how weary I felt, a combination of the slightly longer cycle ride and the cold weather I suppose.

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