Saturday, February 12, 2011

A little bit of Wildlife along Lodes Way

Friday 11th February: (Or 11-02-2011) The day started with blue skies and sun as I sat at my desk going through a backlog of emails. By early afternoon I had toiled enough, I could sneak out for a couple of hours before a call at 5pm. No I have a slightly guilty confession to make. I have been using my Longstaff since before Christmas, because I have yet to get around to mending the puncture I incurred on my way back from the Dyke's End in Reach one cold and rainy day. For that reason I have been avoiding the more challenging byways and sticking to tracks that are ok- like Lodes Way and the Cambridge Cycle Super highway. (Actually the not so super, flooded in bits maintenance path along the side of the Cambridge Guided Busway.

Talking of which, according to the Cambridge News, the Council Chief Executive has stepped in after yet another set of Busway deadlines were missed. The terrible thing is that no-one seems surprised anymore. I wonder why the Council Chief has waited for so long before stepping in?

Whilst I do admit to moaning sometimes here is a bit of good news the National Trust leading a drive to create 1,000miles of footpaths, kayaking, cycling and horse riding trails by the end of the decade. Perhaps I have misinterpreted the flooded bits on the CGB - they not for cycling after all - they are for kayaking - silly. Perhaps I could borrow my son's kayak and try them out?

Apparently the Police are to crackdown on people not wearing seatbelts in Cambridge as a Valentine's present. Of course it is not really a present, but does start on the 14th of February and is part of a campaign across Europe. It amazes me that there are still enough people not wearing seatbelts that this sort of exercise is necessary, but I suppose you only need look at the number of motorists still using mobile phones blued to their ears when driving to realise that there is still one born every minute. The war on motorists will continue though with an 85% hike in parking fees for residents in Cambridge. This means that for those in areas such as Brunswick and Kite the fee will rise from £50 to £81 per year. As an increase it is pretty bad, but I suppose in terms of rental of a piece of road "real-estate" to ensure that a resident can park it is probably pretty cheap.

If you own a house with a garage then you will pay more rates compared with a house without a garage, so in effect you end up paying the Council to park your car in a space you own! If I want to park in Cambridge then the cost of say Queen Anne Terrace Car Park is £12 (7.30am to 5pm) and 60p /hour night evenings which is around £20 per day. So even allowing for bulk discounts on buying parking time, £81 is a pretty good deal for a Residents permit. Of course it is not always possible to buy a house with a garage or parking space. Apparently this will be used to subsidise the Park and Ride services which apparently costs £1 million a year.

I try to leave my car in the garage, although more for selfish reasons than anything - I enjoy cycling and hope that it keeps me fitter than if I didn't cycle. So back the the ride - I am using my Longstaff tourer and like to get out and about away from noisy traffic (noise kills) but don't find it quite so good on the rougher byways. Which is why I am cycling along Lodes Way quite a lot. It is more peaceful and I get to see the countryside and wildlife - well if I pay attention.

Cycling along the Fen Road out of Lode alongside Bottisham Lode I often see a Heron or two. Although now I think about it I haven't seen one for a while. (According to Wikipedia they are highly mobile, though some are only partially migratory.) They are often to be seen on the Lode bank (the water not the village - they tend not to have accounts with Natwest or Barclays). Whenever I cycle by I am generally too slow to stop and get my camera out before they have flown away. Well this time I had my long lens - so although I was still slow taking the camera out and taking the picture I managed to get one showing the heron as more than a dot on the horizon.


The picture was taken just where the route heads down White Fen Droveway. The road carries on but is a no-through-road. At this point it is called Lug Fen Droveway It rather looks like a giant toothpaste tube has been used to squirt out the tarmac.. onto the ground. The Lode (water) and the road both seem to start wiggling a bit along here - given that the Lodes were dug out I wonder why?


Although the morning started out sunny by the time I got around to cycling it was raining, I didn't bother with waterproof leggings (but wasn't wearing shorts). It wasn't too bad and was not windy. It was quite misty and grey though. The trees in the distance were all rather faded.


The warmer weather (warmer than the seasonal average) also seems to be helping the crops to grow in the fields.


This picture was taken along the back of Wicken village on Lower Drove, part of NCN11 but joined form the Upware direction. Ely is some way in the distance.


As it was raining and I had to be back for a 5pm call I wasn't able to hang around too much taking pictures. Mind you the sky cleared and the blue skies returned before the end of the afternoon. Here is the Lodes Way Reach Lode Bridge - just rising as it crosses the Lode. It doesn't look that steep - but to an inhabitant of the flatlands it requires a gear change to cycle over comfortably.


The reeds growing alongside the Lode - not blowing in the wind - there wasn't any.


This picture is taken from under the bridge looking back along Lodes Way towards Burwell Farm - which is actually a few rather ramshackle buildings. Although they represent a rare example of aircraft hangar style construction. You can see the setting sun has given a glow to the picture.


I returned along Lodes Way towards White Fen. Since I hadn't stopped much to take pictures some "wildlife" on the footbridge further down the Lode caught by eye. This is an "HDR" picture made from three different exposures. If you look at their reflections you can see two ghost reflections to the left of the real people.


Then as I cycled through White Fen I saw three Roe Deer standing watching me. Not quite as many as MikeC saw the other night. I stopped and they stood still watching me, but as soon as I took my camera out of its bag they scarpered. Here they are running away.


This one stopped and turned around for a better look though - a bit braver than the other two. It is quite some distance off - but the zoom lens meant it didn't just appear as a dot in the picture.


I got back in time for my 5m call. We also went out that evening, we were going with some friends, but one of them had the Norovirus - but we went anyway and had a delicious meal at Loch Fyne - mind you I couldn't help thinking about the Michel Roux's program Service when we were there. The friend is feeling better and we have an excuse to go out and do it again.

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