Friday, April 15, 2011

The good, the bad and the ugly

Tuesday,  12th April: Too much time has been taken up with cars in my life recently, what with driving to meetings, teaching my daughter to drive and getting my car fixed. So come Tuesday I felt I deserved to cycle out into the Countryside a little. As I had given the River Cam NCN11 path (Halingway) a miss at the weekend because I thought it might be a bit busy with people walking I thought I would use it today and then hop over to the Lodes Way via the bridleway between Horningsea and Lode.

After yesterday’s April shower the weather was once again pretty reasonable and there was very little wind so I just cycled on up by the Cam – it is a great pity that this route does not carry on up to Ely – it is so pleasant cycling alongside the river on a pretty reasonable path on a lovely Spring day. In fact it was so nice that I didn’t even bother to stop and take pictures – I just sailed along – metaphorically speaking. (Actually I would think it a great step forward if it managed to reach Upware and then there was a bridge over the river.)

The leg of NCN11 alongside the River Cam ends at Waterbeach although I turned back towards Cambridge at Clayhithe, bridges are a scarce commodity along rivers, especially bridges for people and cyclists (and horse riders). Just past Cambridge Garden Plants on the Clayhithe Road is a footpath with an information Board with some Horningsea History. This area was the source of Horningsea Ware, with a pottery industry that “thrived for 300 hundred years”. Apparently it was the confluence of the right sort of clay, fuel and a river system that made it a suitable spot.

Alongside the side is a plant escaping from the Garden “Centre” – sorry I don’t know what it is, domestic plants are not something I am that knowledgeable on.

As this was a “quick” ride and my time was relatively limited I did not stop to take that many pictures. This is I think a Marsh Marigold – or Caltha palustris. It is highly polymorphic which means that you get lots of variations although apparently the range is contracting. It was alongside Bottisham Lode on Fen Road on the outskirts of Lode.

I did stop to take a picture of the trees each side of Swaffham Bulbeck Lode from the Lodes Way bridge. The tree on the left is now pretty much out in leaf – the one to the right has some catching up to do.

There is also quite a lot of work taking place on the Fens alongside Lodes Way which appears as Adventurers Fen on the OS map but Burwell Fen on the Wicken Fen cyclists map. I can’t find a reference to the work taking place on their website but they do have a couple of blogs which give a bit of insight into the working of Wicken Fen: Jack’s Blog and Maddy’s Blog.  Read Maddy’s blog  - “the grass IS Greener” about the cows dealings with the new fences.

As you can see – the bulldozers and diggers were out mob-handed although I assume they they will work around the existing footpaths, as they make the land wetter.

The same view from the other side – as you can see there were quite a few small clouds hanging around.

Is it me – or were there gates on these fences the last time I came along here? I have had a quick look at older pictures and there were certainly some large gates. They could have been moved to avoid problems with the diggers – or were they stolen?

Whilst cycling along NCN11 through Wicken Fen it seems that the new wind pump has had a re-alignment.  The last time I looked the vane was perpendicular to the blades – now it is flat – which presumably turns it off.

The view down Wicken Fen – well I had stopped so it seemed a good idea to take advantage and get another picture in.

After Wicken Fen I headed back via Burwell and Reach and along Black Droveway although I did stop to take a picture of this fly-tipping on Barston drove. Tossers!

After that I cycled over to Swaffham Prior and back along NCN51 into Cambridge. This is the bit alongside the airfield. I was amazed to see how many dandelions (Taraxcum) had sprung up.

A little bit further along were daisies, of the Asteraceae family. These also seem to have popped up overnight.

As i stood taking my wildflower pictures a  cyclist was returning from what looks as if it was a ride out.

I forgot to mention there also seem to have been quite an influx of Traveller caravans – the fine weather seems to be attracting them to the area. You will probably see a few more horses around and about as well – don’t let it put you off I have never had issues.


  1. Wicken gates

    They've gone to be branded "NT" to reduce the chances of them being stolen. In one week in October last year 3 new big gates, two picnic tables and a bench were stolen after being in place for about a month.
    A complete electric fence went too.

    The travellers are fine, they are regular visitors, and I stop to talk to them. If anyone would like a couple of really lovely puppies, very small terrier-like dogs, the folks still on Newnham Drove want to find homes for them. They have all vaccination certificates, and are well used to being mauled by small children.


  2. I am pleased to here that the gates had not been stolen. I had thought they were pinched for use for firewood - but the NT branding strategy implies not.

    Is there any public info on the drainage works taking place?