Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Attacked near Ousden

Saturday 2nd April: Yesterday’s Post missed a trick, I didn’t put any April Fool “jokes” in.   The main reason being that by the time I got around to Posting it April Fool’s day was long past. (Well several days anyway). I did trick a friend though.  Perhaps today was Karma for that trick as today’s ride had its problems for me.  With the improving weather and recent dry spell most of the byways I have been exploring have been in pretty good shape for cycling.  I don’t mind bumps, lumps and ruts, as long as I can keep moving without having to dab down my feet too often.

So being Saturday and for once relatively chore free I looked a little further afield for some off-road to explore and set off quite early, after a driving lesson and then an early lunch. (The driving lesson was for my daughter, I passed my test a while ago!).  I had seen three byway/bridleway tracks that I had not cycled along before and decided to visit them. The first was near Moulton, then Dalham and finally Ousden.  Even better I could plan a sort of route between them. I then planned to follow a byway near Dane Bottom home and see how things went. In the end I didn’t quite follow the last bit and indeed took a different route which was all the more pleasant for being different.

Here is the Bike Route Toaster Link to the map shown below. I can’t really classify this as a hilly route, unless like me you live in the flatlands. If you do then there are some slopes that require a bit of effort, but nothing too bad.The distance was pretty good as well 85Km/53 miles. Now the clocks have changed it opens up the evenings and makes it easier to venture a little further afield.  In fact come to think about it I have stopped routinely taking a front light with me – having said that I’ll be caught out the next time I go out on a late afternoon ride.I also helps that it is warmer. On this ride I wore shorts and sandals and was perfectly warm even towards the end of the ride.

As to the karmic connection, well if you glance at the annotated map you’ll see the reference to me being bitten by a dog! I don’t mind dogs, my sister had a dog in my younger days, a yellow Labrador, which I would look after during family holidays. (When they went away and I stayed at home.) However I also have no great desire to own a dog. I have never been bitten by a dog – or rather a dog bite has never broken my skin. When playing with my sister’s dog it might grab you with its mouth, but only in play and never hard. I also was nipped on the ankle when doing a paper round for a friend. It was a small yappy sort of dog – a Poodle or Yorkshire terrier. I used to wear Chelsea boots (as we called them) in those days and so it just bit the leather. This time I wasn’t so lucky and there was a pack of them. Still on with the ride.

I started off along NC51 before switching to Lodes Way at Bottisham and then cutting down to Reach on Black Droveway and back onto NCN51. Whilst cycling along the Reach road on the outskirts of Burwell I saw MikeC on his ‘bent. If you want to see what it looks like it features in this post – the last two pictures. As usual we swapped notes about things we’d seen in the area and Mike mentioned an alternate place to explore in Moulton – a place he knows better than I do. (As usual I must make a mental note to visit it another time.)

Whilst checking the name of the road where we met I also saw on Google Maps that you can get tattoos done nearby; Village Ink tattoo.

Whilst checking my route on the BRT map I’ve also noticed that the “router” has taken a couple of shortcuts that I did not take.  One is where NCN51 goes across the Swaffham Road on the outskirts of Burwell and the second is where NCN51 enters Newmarket. I took the NCN51 route although the router shows me taking a short cut. Having said that I did divert from the NCN51 route in the centre of Newmarket. As I tend to enter the routes at quite a low zoom factor I don’t always notice when “it” has decided upon a different route from the one I intend.

This is where the Heath Road between Burwell and Exning runs parallel with the A14. Someone couldn’t be bothered to take their crap to a tip. Perhaps it is also an unintended consequence of closing down waste centres in Suffolk. .The centres don’t close until May 9 according to the article, but it gives people the excuse to fly-tip.

This is the first hill, as I gently cycled up Moulton Road past the exercise tracks, near the top a chap whizzed by on his racing bike and said hello and made me feel old (or rather fat – I am nowhere near my optimum cycling build). Ah well there was a descent the other side where I would have the advantage of “momentum”.

In Moulton I headed over the main road (B1085) down Bridge Street and then turned right at the Pack Horse Bridge along Brookside. The Brook in question being the River Kennet a tributary of the River Lark.. You can just see the River Kennet under this rather splendid stone bridge.

A little further along and there is another ford, this one is rarely dry unlike the one near the Pack Horse bridge which is really an overflow Ford.  Of course I couldn’t just pass it by so I cycled over it, took the picture and then cycled back. The road running left to right is Brookside and the Pack Horse bridge is to the  left and my intended direction to the right. The damp trail left by my tyres can be seen.

There is a bridge for those unwilling to paddle. The weight limit is 3T which implies a loaded Land Rover Discovery would be on the limit.

The bridleway I cycled along is part of the Icknield Way Path and essentially follows the River Kennet valley down past the scenic Sewage Works in a parallel route to the Dalham Road. Bits of the bridleway are on the edge of fields and other bits are in the wooded valley area. It was a popular place for walking I past quite a few families out walking.  The track was fine for cycling, packed mud.

This is a picture taken in the wooded area a bit closer to the River Kennet which you can see in the picture. It was the purple flowers that added a splash of colour that caught my eye.

A quick slow scan of my flower identification books and various sites on the web and I think that this is Honesty or Lunaria annua

As I cycled along the road to the next byway you can see Dalham Hall on the hill. It is a Grade 2 listed country house amongst a 33,000 acre estate (according to Wikipedia or 3,300 acre according to the Times). It was purchased by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (the ruler of Dubai) for £45M.

This appears as Lower Windmill on the OS and apparently was build by Mr Ruffle in the 1790s. Although it has been restored at least once, judging by the lack of sails the most recent restoration in 1979/1980 did not get completed.

Just off the B1085 on the smaller Dalham Road is the byway I headed down – the Old Suffolk Road (Track) which heads South and was where I was headed. The Old Suffolk Road was a through route in 1814 but fell into disuse. Since I was exploring my plan was to see where it ended and then look for a farm track down to the road, if the worst came to the worst I could always cycle back along it.

I passed a car parked on the road just by the entrance but gave it little though. As I cycled up the track it looked rather pleasant, a track with hedges either side.  A bit further up and I met an old lady walking her dogs. I slowed down and moved to the side not wishing to alarm her and when she saw me she started to, well panic. There were around 5 large Pekinese type dogs. (Also known as Lion Dogs!!!) According to this Website they can develop small dog syndrome where the dog believes he is the pack leader and tries to tell humans what to do. Whatever the explanation, the lady could not control her dogs, I suspect that is why she was walking along an isolated byway. 

The dogs kept rushing up at me yapping and one bit me on the ankle. To be fair it didn’t rip my leg off, it did break the skin though,  At this point I jumped of the bike and put it between me and the dogs and backed of. All the time the lady was struggling and the dogs were rushing up at me. She also appeared to have a forearm crutch and had dropped it during the mêlée. It makes me think that perhaps her dogs had caused her to fall and injure herself at some point. Once out sniping distance I used some antiseptic wipes to clean the bite. Here in the UK we are not worried about rabies but dogs can carry unpleasant diseases. In the 1980 and 1990s the US averaged 17 fatalities from dog attacks per year increasing to 26 per year in the 2000s.

Richard's Bicycle Book suggests if all else fails ramming your pump down the dogs throat – I only had one pump and there were five dogs. It might also have been a bit much for the old lady to witness as well.

Funnily enough (or not actually) just writing this seem to make the wound area tingle. I had a jelly baby or two and then took some pictures. This is a view of the Windmill from a gap in the hedgerow.

The Old Suffolk Road is the track to the right hand side. You can see the woman’s car just to the left and if you zoom in you can see a couple of the flipping dogs on the track. When I first looked at this after getting back I was worried that it might have been the old lady who might have collapsed.  That would have been terrible to have not realised – it wasn’t though.

At this point I reached the end of the track which just stopped. For obvious reasons I did not feel like going back past the pack again so I followed a ditch along the edge of a field down to the road. I tried cycling but there were too many holes and I didn’t really want to tumble into the ditch and add a broken bone to my injuries. It was a shame because it was a really nice bit of peaceful countryside.

After that bit of excitement I headed for my next unexplored (by me) byway near Ousden. A website on the Church their mentions the author “always forgetting how hilly this bit of Suffolk is”. It isn’t that bad, but it is not flat. It looks to be a very picturesque place – I did pass the carcass of a deer that had been scavenged on the way in.

It took me longer to reach the byway than I had expected, it was a good job I had brought a printout of a map of the area. There was a sign from Suffolk Country Council asking users to “tread lightly” or rather drive lightly, however the track surface was not as bad as many byways I’ve been on. As you can see here it is actually a very good track and I had no problems cycling along it.

Well except for one problem  - now bear in mind that I had recently been bitten by a dog, well I saw what looked like a huge Alsatian snuffling into the hedgerow. Not again I thought as I carried on down the track.

The byway I was on joined another, Barber’s Lane, again with a sign asking users to take care.

The byway then crossed a road. This side there was some evidence of the damage motor vehicles can do – but I have seen far worse than this.,

The byway reaches a T-junction, right a bridleway and left a byway towards this Communications Tower. The line of trees to the right is where the byway goes.

As I reached the “T-junction” I saw another large Alsatian deer which ran off along with a “pack” – by the time I got my camera out they were across the adjacent field.

The bridleway was called Bury Lane and made its way to the village of Lidgate. I then headed out to Kirtling although turned off sooner than I had planned, I try not to rely on my paper map more than necessary, but I suppose that your memory goes as you get older. The Kirtling website as a rather nice History section with information on the Lancaster Bomber that crashed there.  The weather was still nice, although the sun was covered by clouds.

There were also Cowslips or Primula Veris growing in the verge, I was surprised to see them in flower – although I suppose it is April – this year is flying by.

After not taking the right turn I found myself back on track when I reached Woodditton. There is a bridleway but it does not appear on the OS or the OSM Cycle map. It starts opposite Maypole Lane. It then heads down to another bridleway running from Woodditton parallel with the Devil’s Dyke. The area appears as Dane Bottom on the map. This is that bridleway.

The same scene but with three further pictures added to give a more panoramic view. This track has some loose stone on it but is fine for cycling, on my Hybrid Marin anyway.

The bridleway comes out on the B1061 just alongside a Pumping Station. The road leads to Newmarket and I usually head in that direction. This time I went left past Devil’s Dyke to a small road and up a hill over the Cambridge/Ipswich (and Newmarket) railway line, seen here looking towards Newmarket.  I turned on my flashing rear lights though – it is a fast but not wide road – a bad combination for a cyclist in my view.

This is the view from the railway bridge looking back towards the B1061 You can see that the original lie of this road has been changed to stop it from being a through crossroads to help prevent drivers missing it.

The road then reaches a Roundabout with a Horse Statue near Newmarket. Apparently the roundabout is the Stetchworth Toll Roundabout and the statue is a Millennium Statue. No tolls are payable now though and the road name does not appear on the Streetmap version of the OS map.

Although I am not usually to be found cycling on main roads I carried on down the A1303 towards Bottisham and the NCN51 cycle route into Cambridge. I left my flashing rear lights on just in case.

You pass some rather nice Studs on the way and then cross both the A11 and A14, by flyovers. There is then a hill to cycle down. At the bottom is a lay-by next to a car breakers yard place. (Autos and Sons, Greengables, Bottisham). By now the sun was getting lower and nicely backlighting these two trees.

You could also see the Wilbraham Road bridge over the A14 up ahead.

When I got home I also took a picture of this flower as I had my camera to hand. (I must find out what it is from my wife – it is a small bush/tree growing in a large pot.

When I got home I washed my wound again and had a bath after getting some sympathy from my wife and daughter.  It does not look infected, although I do get a funny need to bark at the moon.


  1. Fly tipping and hills

    That load of rubbish on the old (possibly Roman) road next to the A14 includes a lot of toys for small children, circa 2-3 years old. What a lesson for them :-((

    I've done that hill out of Newmarket towards Moulton too many times recently. Normally around 9 am, when the stable-hands are coming down the hill slowly after exercising the horses. The recumbent particularly gets comments from the riders, and as long as I've got enough breath to answer the repartee I think my fitness is OK.

    Comparing the comfort of the 'bent to a horse saddle works well, and accusing their mount of being "self-delivering dog-food." is even better. The latter is only used after rude comments though.

  2. I measure my fitness levels by the difference between the number of cyclists I overtake minus the number that overtake me. I can tell I am getting fitter when the urge to catch up a cyclist in the distance comes upon me. The trick is then to whizz by making it look effortless. I know it hasn't worked when they then do the same to me back again.