Saturday, 16th April: A quick recap, here is the Bike Route Toaster Link of this 53Km/33 mile ride mainly to check out the Boat between Earith and Over after a comment by the Cottenham Cyclist. Which reminds me, somewhere on the ride I swallowed a fly. Always a sign that Spring really has sprung. Later on in the year I get better at keeping my mouth closed and breathing through my nose, but I do find it easier when exercising to breathe through my mouth. The strange thing is that when the fly (of some sort) goes in it seems huge, but generally they get stuck halfway between mouth and swallow. Most of the time I find I can eventually spit them out, but not always. Then you have to gulp them down.
This Post carries on from Earith – top left on the trace below. After leaving the Aldreth countryside there is a brief ride along the A1123, known at this point as Hill Row Causeway before turning of onto the the B1050 towards Willingham on Shelford’s Road, There is Shelford Farm nearby and Long Shelford and Short Shelford. Just after crossing the bridge there are two scruffy roads heading to the right, take the second one, the left one in the Streetview link. You pass Hermitage Lock and Hermitage Marina (pdf of a Sale document, but no longer directly available if you search the website, so I assume it got sold). The Hermitage Lock link leads to the Cambridgeshire County Council which refers to Northstowe. Say what you like about the development, however it is to the credit of those involved in the rights of way activity in the County that it has been used to catalyse a whole load of right of way improvements in the area.
The track immediately off of the B1050 is called No 11 Drove which then leads to No. 18 Drove (either they had too many droves to name all of a sudden of they weren’t very imaginative. A drain (as in drainage ditch) lies alongside No. 18 Drove This is the view looking towards Over – the track starts off very well.
After a short ride there is evidence of some fly-tipping and fly-burning (yes I made the last term up). It seems to be a bit of a dumping ground here but has been cleared and then dumped on again. I think that the two posts which presumably used to have a gate between then have No. 18 Drove on the rubbish side and Long Holme Drove on the side where I am taking the picture from. You can see that the yellow field disease has spread out to this part of the world.
There are one or two concrete tracks leading off. As you get a bit closer to Over you can see that the path was laid by a mosaic maker. I tended to cycle along the thin line between the grass and the crazy paving. It is perfectly passable, just a little uncomfortable in place. The church spire up ahead is St Mary’s Church, where “Christians have worshipped for at least 1,000 years and the present building dates back to 1254”. The Over village website indicates that there is an Over Cycling Club, the link no longer seems active though. There is an Over Land Rover Group though.There is Dutch influence in some of the houses apparently – who led by Vermuyden came to drain the Fens.
The countryside around here is very flat indeed but there is no disguising those yellow fields.
As you approach Over there is evidence of more trees and the path becomes flatter but made up of loose gravel which is ok but a bit tiring to cycle along as the bike wheels slip and slide. This is the view looking to Over which is not far away behind the trees.
This is the view looking back along Long Holme Drove, the way I had come – yes I can vouch for the fact that it is quite a bumpy Boat. On the left of the track are what the map calls workings but were presumably Gravel pits and are now wildlife areas.
I then cycled back along a bridleway away from the village, because I’d not been along it before and wanted to see where it went. It circled bare Hill and then wiggled a bout before reaching a bridleway T-junction. I turned right, next time I will head left. The track is Middle Way in parallel to the right is Further Way and to the left is Hither Way. I have cycled along Hither Way in the past so that leaves Further Way for the future. This is where the bridleway reaches a “road”. The signpost indicates it is indeed Middle Way.
The road is called Furtherford with Dockerel Brook running alongside and the local Sewage Farm – or Sewage Treatment Plant, also known as “Wks” on the OS map. There is a good, back view of the Communication tower and Windmill that straddle the route of the CGB off in the distance with the water tower slightly closer.
I cycled through Over and out to the bridleway to the CGB. Although bridleways permit bicycles o be ridden over them there is no obligation to facilitate the use by cyclists. This bridleway certainly does not facilitate its use by cyclists. It is a pretty unpleasant route to cycle along because of the fairly deep loose gravel it is made from.
Where it reaches the CGB a thin plank is provided to cross over a ditch. I was going to cycle over it but didn’t want to risk my camera getting damaged if I slipped off (honest). Walkers, cyclists and horse riders then have to cross over the concrete tracks of the CGB to get to the high quality path. (Now to have a tarmac surface all the way to Swavesey.) So it seems to me that it would be pretty tricky taking a horse along here. You have to carry your bike over the plank. In this day and age of health and safety is it good to see that rules can be ignored for that authentic “walk the plank experience”.
I am probably wanting too much if I expect the bridleway surface to be made a little more cycle friendly, however I do think the plank bridge is a bit of a disgrace along this route.
As I was cycling along the CGB (the maintenance path not the concrete) I was caught up by a chap and we chatted about cycling – how far, what route – that sort of thing. Since he had seemed to easily catch me I sped up so as not too slow him down. The CGB path is actually very pleasant for cyclists to ride two abreast in safety and chat. (The real hassle with motorists hating cyclists riding two abreast is that it forces what can be a very sociable activity to be less so.)
It is actually very pleasant chatting and at one point I did wonder if he was the Cottenham Cyclist, but no, although he had read the Blog. After a while he also started rubbing his leg. It turns out that in the slightly macho way even gentle cyclists like myself have we had both continued to just slightly up the pace until we were both uncomfortable, but not willing to admit it. We came to our sense and slowed down to a comfortable (but still brisk) pace chatting about cycling in groups, helmets (to wear or not to wear) and places to cycle. Other cyclists are always a good source of route intelligence. (That reminds me I haven’t been to Wimpole for a while – one of MikeC’s recommendations.)
He turned of towards Cottenham or maybe Histon and I carried on – at the slightly faster pace. I did stop to take a picture of this Memorial Stone in a field alongside the CGB. Which has featured in a previous post.
All in all that was a really pleasant ride – and the CGB does make for a good route back into town. I must have a look on some mapping websites to see if there some more interesting routes around and about the area.