Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A pinch and a punch - a day of two halves - the second half

So I was bunking off for the early part of the afternoon. No planning, no thought, just head out (on my bike of course). It was a grey day yet again so I swapped lenses and stuck my 14mm - 140mm lens on (which is 28mm, fairly wide angle to 280mm long-ish in 35m mm speak). One of the advantages of being able to switch lenses is the ability to compose pictures in different ways. A long lens does "get" you closer but it also affects the depth of focus and compresses the distances in the picture. Whilst a wide angle can help bring in a broad sweep of scenery and it is easier to get a greater apparent depth of the picture in focus. Although you would not always know that when looking at my pictures.

Having been up to St Ives I found myself heading out on my usual "Lodes Way" route. I say usual, but depending upon the weather and the state of the tracks around and about the area there a myriad different variations that I can take. I like cycling off-road, but prefer hard-packed mud tracks to lots of sticky mud which the fen soil can sometimes turn into after rain. I noticed that some of the hedgerows along NCN51 are starting to show some new leaf growth and I was a bit worried as the hedge had been slashed and ripped cut back and there were quite a few bits of sharp looking twig on the shared-use path. I am pleased that the hedge has been cut back though it makes the path easier to cycle along, especially as it is not very wide. Although be warned just past the Missing Sock the hedgerow has not been trimmed back, possibly because it belongs to the garden of Bury Lodge (as it appears on Streetmap).

I usually leave NCN51 just after passing Swaffham Bulbeck to go down Abbey Road (not of the Beatles fame) and past the Old Abbey which is pictured on the right of the Wikipedia page I linked to. Although there is a picture of the Old Abbey on the page, there is no reference to it in the text! Just before turning down Abbey Road I stopped to take a picture of this solitary, but early clump of daffodils growing on the grass verge. My guess is that they are a remnant from a previous crop of daffodils growing in the field rather than a series of villager-planted bulbs. It is not uncommon to see flowers planted along the approach roads of villages to prettify them though. I quite like it, but there are some who complain that as it does not represent a native species it is wrong. I agree there is some truth in the argument, however grass verges are hardly natural features of nature. Having said that I can't recall seeing daffodils growing in this field recently.


Come to think about it I haven't seen fields of daffodils around these parts for a few years. This picture was taken on the 29th of March 2005, six years ago to the month. It certainly cheers up the area when they are grown.

upware daffodils.jpg

Back to the today's cycle ride; I cycled along Fen lane up to the disused Cambridge to Mildenhall Railway Bridge over Swaffham Bulbeck Lode. The early part has a tarmac surface. This is the view back down the Lode towards Cow Bridge.


This is the view across the bridge in the line of the railway track. It is rather overgrown now and difficult to imagine quite how a train would fit and the level of the bridge also seems to be higher than the surrounding farm land. This is the Where's The Path link. I wonder if the fields have sunk or there were ramps or perhaps a bit of both.


The view of the bridge from Fen Lane looking towards the Cambridge direction. It looks rather strange as it was clearly (and still is) a substantial bridge, but all it carries is a footpath. It does not even seemed to be used by agricultural vehicles.


I could have carried on up Fen Lane, although I think it loses the name at this point. As you can see it no longer has a tarmac surface beyond the old bridge. The last time I went along here I seem to remember that it becomes more of a grass rack.


After heading back down to Lode (the village) and then onto the Lodes Way and through White Fen I left the Lodes Way and cycled up to Upware via Great Drove. It struck me that there is a lot of work going on in the fields at the moment. The field adjacent to Great Drove and Headlake Drove seemed to have been freshly ploughed and in the gloom the soil looked almost black.


This is the view looking up Great Drove (in the Upware direction) the road surface gently undulates. You don't really notice it on a bicycle but in a car you have to watch your speed or the car starts bouncing around a lot. Strangely though it seems that white vans are not affected and can (and do) tear along this bit of road.


Some of the fields along Great Drove are being used to grow Turf. I would imagine that the current downturn in the building market has not really helped Turf Growers. When I went past this whole field was being "harvested" perhaps houses are being built again (and so builders need turf to make the gardens look nice).


There were quite a few vehicles in the field digging, moving and loading the turf onto trailers.


I was surprised to see that there had been what looks like a serious accident on Great Drove. It looked as if a car had driven into the tree and caught fire. I did not read the note pinned to the tree but it looked is if it had been a serious accident. When I looked on the Web for more information it would seem that whilst there had been an accident the occupants of the car that hit the tree got out before the car caught fire. What surprised me was that there seemed to be very little news about the incident. I found this Website that logs all the Cambridge Fire Service incidents attended. I think this report is of this incident. It refers to Whiteway Drove which is what the road is called closer to Swaffham Prior, but according to the OS map is called Great Drove closer to Upware. It was also reported in the Burwell Bulletin, at the bottom of page three. It suggests two cars were involved but that the occupants of the burning car escaped relatively unscathed. I apologise now if my information is not correct and that there were serious or fatal injuries.


The onset of Spring is a busy time for farmers, this field looks as if it is being ploughed, drilled and having plastic laid in a series of operations. The plastic helps to make the soil slightly warmed than it might otherwise be and so the seeds germinate a little earlier.


On the other side of the Drove this field had already had its plastic strips laid. I have read that this is bio-degradable, but have also seen cases where once the plants are growing the farmers lift it.


This was a crop I had never come across before - one field seemed to be growing swans! There looked to be around 20 or so swans sitting in the field. Actually I have seen this before it seems to be a popular resting place for swans. I have also seen a dead swan near the telegraph poles in the background of the picture where it looked as if a swan had hit one of the cables.


There were also fields with crops already peeping out.


Just before reaching Upware I noticed this blaze of yellow in an otherwise grey scene. You can see the road has one or two potholes, although not as bad as some parts of Cambridge. Talking about potholes I got a report back from the one I reported in Cherry Hinton, within 24 hours. I went past today (in the car so no chance of stopping to take a picture) it had been fixed - that is pretty impressive and surprising as there are other bigger potholes around. However this was in the middle of a cycle lane, just before a tricky bit of "traffic calming" street-furniture.


In Wicken I took a picture of the Maid's Head pub sign, expecting it to look a little more like a bit of yellow on an otherwise gloomy day - but it doesn't really.


On the way through Wicken Fen , along NCN11 I took a picture of the new Windpump which was easier with my "shorter" lens. The picture was taken with an actual focal length of 25mm (or 50mm in 35mm terms). It meant I could get closer before taking the picture and still get more of the surroundings in.


The various works going on around Wicken Fen seem be taking their toll on the path (NCN11/Lodes Way). The good news is that you can see it is used by cyclists judging by the clearly visible tyre tracks.


Opposite the Windpump, on the other side of the path you can see the new channel that has been cut to supply the water to the pump (I assume). There is a natural eco-friendly bit of fencing as well.


This is Baker's Fen on the other side of Wicken Fen and either floods or is flooded around this time of year. I have quite a few pictures taken from this spot. Some with the sunset, others with highland cattle in the picture. Sorry - this is a grey one, it is also made from two pictures stitched together.


I followed Lodes Way home, although I did detour into Burwell and back along Newnham Drove. I had my lights on cycling through Burwell and even got flashed by a car. Although my front light points down and was not on its brightest setting. You can't win, if you cycle without lights you get lots of wingeing motorists and if you cycle with lights... I think they were annoyed to have waited for me as there were cars on there (her) side of the road and then she found that I was just a cyclist and cars clearly have priority at all times and I had held her up for at least a minute.

When I got to Reach Lode bridge - yet more activity in the fields - in this case hedging taking place. I assume that they want to get it done before the Spring growth starts. If you look back at the Swans in the field picture you can see smoke in the background. That smoke seems to be related to hedge clearance further up this path.


I should also mention that the tyres dumped at the bottom of Newnham Drove had been removed, well done East Cambs Council? I also picked up loads of mud cycling along Newnham Drove which clogged up my mudguards, so much that I had to stop and clear them.

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