Sunday, March 27, 2011

Chilly ride to Soham

Saturday, 26th March: After the recent unseasonably warm weather Saturday was quite a disappointment with temperatures around 10C dropping to 8C during the afternoon. In fact the only thing it had going for it was that it was a Saturday. Fortunately I had cut the lawn on Friday when it was nice and sunny – which as it was the first cut of the year took somewhat longer than usual.  Still it looks nice

Here is the BRT link (Bike Route Toaster) for the map below.  After getting to Swaffham Bulbeck on NCN51 and just about staying warm I decided to try out the bridleways between Wicken and Soham. When they are bad they are terrible – wet. rutted, muddy and virtually impossible to cycle along (well for me anyway). But with the recent dry weather they should be ok.

As is obvious since it shows on the map, they were passable.  The route was around 66Kms / 40 miles and flat and quite passable. Although that situation could change if there was much rain.

As I crossed Swaffham Bulbeck Lode Bridge despite the grey skies some of the trees were showing a green tinge. At this time of year although the leaves are still only small they are a very fresh and vibrant green that makes it look as if it has been painted on top of the picture.

In fact I liked it so much I decided to take another picture of the tree, as you can see it the green is the same, I didn’t paint it on.(or if I did, I did a good job).

A little bit further up along Lodes Way – the bit just before the point where Headlake Drove meets Split Drove is quite a line of, more or less, south-facing trees. The leaves are always fairly early and as you can see even over the last couple of days the leaves are much further out than they were. When Spring calls it really goes for it.

For some reason I didn’t take many pictures as I headed along the byways/bridleways between Wicken and Soham. In fact there is a byway at the start (Drove Lane) and at the end (Bracks Drove) with an unnamed bridleway in the middle. What isn’t a surprise is that Bracks Drove goes past The Bracks.  Give the recent warm spell it felt very cold and I was in shorts, which is why I didn’t take many pictures really. (The cold that is, not the shorts.)

As I reached the end of first byway I could hear the sound of motorbikes. Which when you are on a narrow track is not really what you want to hear.  The last thing you need is some young lad barely in control of a motorbike showing off and thinking they can whizz close to you for a laugh.

There were quite a group standing around a motorbike at the start of the second byway, lads and lasses who looked a little sheepish as I went past, the motorbike was off though. Either they should not have been riding as they were underage, or they should not have been on the byway at all (if it was restricted) or both.  What did surprise me a little is that there was at least one with a helmet.  As I cycled along Bracks Drove I found a Nokia Smartphone on the track.  I made it more prominent as I figured they would see it as they went past.  I assumed that it had fallen out of one of the riders’ pockets. 

(The last time I found a phone by the roadside there was no-one around, so I took it with me and then rang a couple of numbers on the phone to get the owner’s address and posted it to him (in that case).

A little further along the track I passed two more lads pushing another motorbike.  To be fair I have never seen motorbikes along here before, so it isn’t that common a problem.  I did mention the phone to them, they didn’t seem to own it but seemed a bit keen to go and get it.  I was a bit worried that they wanted it to flog.  Ah well.  The path got a bit more rutted and bumpy but was pretty dry and “easy” to cycle without dabs.

As I was cycling through Soham I cycled down a lane I have never explored before – The Butts which then reached Cherrytree Lane – in one direction it was a byway and in the other a road.  At this point I had become a little confused about which direction was which. So I took the road which took me to the Ely/Bury St Edmunds railway line, where it seemed to end. At that point I realised I’d gone the wrong way and headed back down the other way.  The track passes some allotments before reaching Fordham Road. At this point I headed off down a byway to Larkhall Road which bypasses the main roads and gets me part of the way down towards the Ness Farm byway through to the back of Burwell.

Here is the first byway – there is no sign and it looks pretty non descript.

After Burwell I headed off down to Reach, I was thinking of taking the NCN51 route, but as I left Burwell I thought I’d give the byways of Reach a go.  I also overtook a horse pulled cart out for a ride heading towards Reach. (when cycling in Cambodia I overtook an elephant one the road – my claim to fame.)

In Reach there is a byway round the outskirts called Green Lane (or perhaps it is a green lane). Although I took the inner loop and sat on a bench near Reach Wood for a jelly baby or two.  It turns out that this wood was planted by volunteers from Reach and Swaffham Prior and they put in 3,200 trees.  The jelly babies were given to me by a friend’s young son, so I took this picture as a sort of thank you.  I wish I could say no jelly babies were harmed in the making of this picture but …

This is the track, actually it looks pretty good and the first time I cycled along it was quite unexpected so close to the village. It is as if some of the village is still stuck, well, in the past. Not that that is a bad thing though, far from it. I rather like it.

What surprised me even more as I sat there was to see the horse drawn cart I’d overtaken previously trundle up one track and turn down along another.  Now that is pretty good eh. It is good to see the use of non-fossil fuel powered transport being enjoyed around the back “lanes”. It also goes to show that the horse must be pretty strong to pull two people and the cart up a reasonable slope.

After that I went along Black Drove and then back to Swaffham Prior and NCN51 back to Cambridge.  Although I stayed warm by keeping moving the soak in a hot bath was really very welcome when I got home.

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