Sunday, March 27, 2011

Topping up the Vitamin D levels

Thursday, 24th March: The weather seems to have really taken off this week, in fact it has become unseasonably warm. A quick look at the University of Cambridge Digital Technology Group’s Weather website for March 2011 shows how the temperature seems to have reached almost 18C for a few days.  There is also quite a reasonable increase in the sunshine over the same few days as well. I am a little behind on my Posts it is actually the 29th 30th March 2011 as I finish tapping this in so I can also see how there is some rain on the 29th and what’s more I got wet as I was out cycling back through Wicken Fen along Lodes Way.

Still back to this ride.  There is nothing quite like the first Spring sunshine to make it hard to resist a spin on my bicycle. As Spring was springing I went what is a fairly popular route for me, round the byways near Horningsea and then along the Lodes Way, with a few minor detours, spring needs checking out after all. I wasn’t going to add a BRT map, but it is probably easier (for me) to do one than to reference an older, not quite the same route. Mind you the OSM Cycle Map data seems to be taking ages to draw, which could scupper that plan. At last, here it is and here is the Bike Route Toaster Link.

The route is 58Kms/ 36 miles and at the moment all the byways and bridleways are fairly dry and not too badly rutted.  Apart from the main off-road sections I also took a slight scenic detour after crossing Swaffham Bulbeck Lode bridge, turned off Lodes Way before Reach Lode bridge along Straight drove and crossed the A1123 from the Upware Road and took Docking’s Lane (Track) to reach NCN11.

As I was heading along Low Fern Drove Way round from High Ditch Road to the Horningsea Road I saw what I think is a Tiger Moth heading towards Marshall Airport Cambridge. I wasn’t really quick enough to get a decent picture, but as I was fumbling with my camera I noticed it was yellow. The Cambridge Flying Group operate two de Havilland DH82a Tiger Moth Aircraft.  You can learn to fly in them an introductory lesson is £200, I have flown in a de Havilland Dragon Rapide over at Duxford and it is a great experience so different to flying in a big passenger jet. When you come into land on the grass it is so slow it feels as if you can get out and walk alongside. I am not sure how much it costs as when I click on the link it tells me my browser has compatibility issues.  I think the issue is that I run a beta version of Chrome with traps for Java so I get to choose what runs. 

A quick check using IE9 and the prices are around £160+. When I did it we only flew around Duxford and it was cheaper.  We took my Dad up, he was the only person older than the plane. We all enjoyed it though and it turned out to be the last time he flew in a plane.

As I was heading down Low Fen Drove Way towards the Horningsea Road I took this picture (well actually 2 x 3) picture of the blue skies over Horningsea, the village is just to the left on the horizon. The picture is made from two side by side shots (each of three exposures) stitched together using Photoshop. My brother  in law has a camera that will automatically do the stitching, all in the camera – pretty neat.

Directly opposite the place where Low Fen Droveway meeting the Horningsea Road is Biggin Lane, a private lane, but as you can see there is a wonderful avenue of trees which are now coming into leaf.

After passing through Horningsea my usual route follows the Harcamlow way along a bridleway  past Alicky Farm and then on past Anglesey Abbey to Lode. Most of the route is actually pretty decently maintained track, used by tractors and the like I guess. There is just one bit across the edge of a field that does not have a hard surface – the one in this picture.  There is a decent route – only it has a grass surface.

After passing through White Fen I went up the byway on the Upware side of Swaffham Bulbeck Lode and then cycled along a track the first track to the right that I came to.  It then joins Rail Drove and back to the “main” road to Upware/Lodes Way. It is a farm track used to get around between some of the fields in the area.  It is not marked as a right of way, however I have never had any issues using it. If there are tractors on it I always give them right of way.  The mud is a bit soft and springy and it does get a bit rutted,  but it makes a change.

To the right of the track is this field which had recently been ploughed and prepared – pretty neat huh.  The pylons head over the top of White Fen (to the right of the picture).

Alongside the track was another field that looks is if it has been drilled and plastic strips laid to speed the plant growth. I seem to remember reading that sometimes they use bio-degradable material.

Whoever laid the plastic strips also did a neat job. It follows the curve of the field and the spacing between strips also looks pretty even as well.

I re-joined Lodes Way and carried on down towards the reach lode Bridge, but decided to turn right along Straight Drove, a byway between Upware and Reach (more or less). The recent dry weather has really made it much easier to navigate this byway.  The only thing to watch out for is not getting stuck in a deep rut. You have to pick your route in advance, it is not so easy to switch tracks across the rut edges.

Straight Drove then meets Harrison's Drove, a tarmac road although it has seen better days, it doesn’t look as if it has been re-surfaced in a long time, although the last bit of the drove before reach the Upware Road is fine. as I was on a roll, in terms of using byways and bridleways I crossed the A1123 at the point  in this Streetview Link. I did try to embed the Html so the picture would appear, but it does not seem to work and it is nearly 1pm and I am too tired to fiddle now.

Just the other side of the road, on the first right is a track, called Docking’s Lane which comes out on Padney Drove/Lower Fen Drove, the route of NCN11 between Ely and Wicken. It is a neat way of avoiding a short stretch of the A1123, although to be fair that stretch is road is not too bad, it is quite wide and straight and you aren’t on it long before turning off. The track itself can be quite wet, this time around it was fine. Just as I reached the NCN11 route I stopped and took this picture looking back along Docking’s Lane. This was the only track I saw puddles on.

I then carried on NCN11 through Wicken Fen and detoured through Burwell and back up Newnham Drove. I keep moaning about that Drove, but for some reason find myself regularly cycling along it.  This time  I carried on up past the point where it crosses Lodes Way. There seems to be some trench work taking place on the ditch on the Wicken side just past Burwell Fen Farm and looking straight on there has also been a trench dug to the right of the line of the path.  It will be interesting to see how it all pans out.  It will certainly change the character of this area back to a more natural state.

When cycling along Lodes Way towards Reach Lode bridge I took a picture to the North of Lodes Way, as you can see water is collecting. MikeC mentioned that the Lodes Way path was built slightly higher than the surrounding fen. You can see this in the picture. (This was also made from  two pictures, each of three exposures.  This was taken at quite a wide angle 14mm or 28mm in 35mm speak. Actually on checking I find that actually it is three portrait orientated pictures (each of three exposures) stitched together.

Despite it being a working day I did pass a few other cyclists as I went round I was also surprised how busy Wicken Fen was. The good thing was I was wearing shorts and sandals (no socks) and the temperature was just fine. If it gets any sunnier I’ll have to start using sun-tan lotion. I must have got enough vitamin D to last a while – although I’ve no idea if the body does store it. Apparently lack of vitamin D is linked to cognitive problems in older people (whatever that means Winking smile). Also most of us don’t get enough of it and should spend more time in the sun. In another link 50% of the UK adult population is deficient.

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