Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Lodes Way Loop - backwards

Tuesday 15th, February: It seems to me that when I get up and check my email, which when you work from home tends to be before breakfast, the weather always looks quite promising. The trouble is as the day progresses it seems that the nice weather disappears and I end up cycling on what can only be described as very grey days.

The trouble is that taking pictures is always much easier when there is interesting light around. Now I don't often get up and go cycling early, but when sitting at my desk the light often looks good and taking pictures at sunset generally leads to some interesting pictures. It is much harder work when the weather is grey because and it also means longer exposures and any camera wobbles cause blurry pictures.

So today I had a "brainwave" and cycled around the Lodes way in the reverse direction. It is kind of bizarre, but the route looks different and you (well I) see different things and things differently. Here is the route and here is the Bike Route Toaster link. The route is a little over 65Km (40 miles) and varies between 0m and 20m in elevation so is pretty flat. My route evolved over the years and pre-dates the Lodes Way and there are variations I take from time to time as well. This time I cycled along Harrison's Drove a rather rough road near Upware and I have to confess I also took a footpath between Lode and LongMeadow. What was strange was heading in the wrong direction (away from Cambridge) at what felt to be near the end of the ride to rejoin NCN51 at Swaffham Bulbeck.

Lodes Way Loop 9 Annt.jpg

After clearing Cambridge I did wonder whether I'd take any pictures it was so grey. So when cycling along the shared-use path between Bottisham and Lode I sat down on the pavement to take a picture or two. I rarely use this path to cycle along as the road is flatter and although it has been recently widened it is a bumpy path compared to say the Horningsea Fen Ditton Cycleway. I got a few funny looks as I lay on the path taking pictures - I was trying to get a sense of the bumpiness. It feels worse than it looks.


I joined the Lodes Way route at White Fen, which leads off from the route between Swaffham Prior and Upware to take Headlake Drove to the Reach lode Bridge. I rarely cycle along this part of the Lodes Way in this direction. This is a bumpy road, although it has a tarmac surface it is quite bumpy and is sometimes covered in very slippery mud. Today the mud was dry and in the main had blown away - you get a sense of the road's undulations though.


Although this road is really only used by tractors getting to fields most of the time (and cyclists of course) it does have a sign to warn the unwary motorist as well as an NCN11 sign.


After crossing the Reach Lode (by way of the "new" bridge) I cycled along the new bit of Lodes Way through Burwell Fen as it is signed. In a previous Post MikeC commented how the path was at a higher elevation that the surrounding fen. This picture shows how the ground slopes away from the path and indeed will get much soggier as the habitat develops. The path itself has had more drainage work done with channels each side and seems to be puddle free. The view is actually looking back the way I had cycled - so much for going around the route backwards to see things differently.


I also took a picture of Reach Lode Bridge (with a zoom of 436mm in 35mm speak). I like the way the bridge just pops over the Lode, barely scraping the low tree line behind.


I then cycled down Newnham Drove, passing a dog walker with a few dogs. Cycling it in the other direction did not make it any easier- it is a very bumpy road in places and the recent creation of additional hard standing at the Lodes Way end has made it even worse.

I was rather disappointed to see that a bunch of tyres had been dumped at the Burwell end although it looked as if there was a notice on the pile asking for information about the illegal dumping.


On the other side of the Drove were some Combine Harvester in a field waiting for the harvest later in the year.


Then I popped into and out of Burwell heading out along Dysons Drove (which becomes Little Fen Drove) on the way to Wicken Fen. Once again I took a picture looking back along the way I had cycled. The path is being enclosed with fencing and cattle grids added at each end. At the moment you have to carry your bike over bits of the route and it isn't clear whether you are supposed to go over the field as the path is blocked at both ends. I preferred to cycle along the path


After cycling through Wicken Fen and Wicken I headed back towards Upware and after clearing Upware turned off the "main" road down Harrison's Drove - which looks like a decent road at first but quickly deteriorates. It then becomes known as Straight Drove and runs alongside Commissioners' Drain and then meets a tarmac track, not marked on the OS map, but it is marked on the OSM Cycle map. This picture is taken looking back up the Drain towards the Upware pumping station.


I also took a picture of the Reach Lode Bridge (from the other side to the last one) as you can see it does not get any higher than the tree line behind. The culverts are a good place to get shelter if it starts raining though. There are lots of pylons around and about heading to/from the Burwell Electricity sub-station.


The unnamed road reaches some farm buildings (also without a name).


I then headed out back along Lodes Way through White Fen, stopping to take some pylon pictures.


As I was passing though Lode I decided to take a footpath, I know a little naughty, but it was well surfaced and I didn't meet any the other people on my way over to Long Meadow. It was very pleasant as it avoided the noise of the traffic on the road between lode and Swaffham Bulbeck. That is a very noisy road and although it has a shared-use path is not a very encouraging route for cyclists.

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