Saturday, April 2, 2011

How green is my Lodes Way–quite!

Friday, 1st April: Well I am still not catching up on my posts, although I am not getting any further behind either.Although there seems to have been a number tragedies on the roads around Cambridgeshire just recently. A cyclist was killed on the A505 at the junction with Beech Lane, Pampisford. It sounds as if she was a keen cyclist having just returned from cycling in Thailand. There was an accident on the M11 involving four lorries, a coach and four cars with four people requiring hospital treatment. (Although the BBC website reports “only” six vehicles involved.)  Two drivers were also killed in on the A1101 near Shippea Hill. A woman was injured in a two car crash on the Oakington/Dry Drayton flyover over the A14 .

Now I realise that I am probably reacting to the fact that these have all been reported in a short space of time and that I am also perhaps, more shocked when a cyclist is involved.  However with the exception of the M11 I have cycled on all of the roads mentioned.  The real question is how to make the roads safer for all.  There are inevitable comments (where enabled) on those reports suggesting changes such as re-testing drivers, how the airline industry is safer, cycle lanes. Most of the comments though are probably, like my Post uniformed chatter. What is slightly worrying is that only 1 in a 100 drivers believe they are less safe than the average driver. Or to put it another way 98% of drivers believe they are better than average. Which is not possible.

The point is that we are all capable of the occasional lapse of concentration, yet most of the time it does not have any consequences. Airlines have a good safety record because they have large safety margins yet many drivers (IMHO) drive with a much slimmer safety margin, so when a problem occurs the consequences are much more serious. The situation is not helped by so many people being time-poor.  In reality my time is my own, yet I will find myself heading out later than planned for meetings in Cambridge and having to rush. Now the consequences on a bike are that I get to my meeting hot and sweaty. The consequences in several tons of metal can be more serious.

After that rather sombre start Friday is Poets day and time for a gentle trip around Horningsea and along the Lodes Way away from noisy traffic. This is a route I have done quite a few “lodes” of times before. I head out of Cambridge on Wadloes Footpath along High Ditch Road and then around Low Fen Droveway and then back up to Horningsea. The route then follows the Harcamlow Way and then along the back of Anglesey Abbey through to Lode and the Lodes Way. I often diver from Lodes Way up to Upware and then round to Wicken and Wicken Fen. I usually then head down to Burwell and back up to the Lodes Way via Newnham Drove before heading back along the Lodes Way to Bottisham and then along NCN51 to Cambridge.

No this is not an odd optical illusion, the path has been around for a long time before being made shared-use and has recently had white lines painted down the middle along with led-powered lights.  Fortunately  the grass verge is wide enough to allow groups to pass each other without too much difficulty. As a compromise this works for me, I do think though that the opportunity to ensure “new builds” are of a higher standard should not be lost.

This is where Low Fen Drove Way meets the B1047 between Fen Ditton and Horningsea. Last time I took a picture looking down the avenue of trees – this time a side on view. It is a private lane called Biggin Lane with Biggin Abbey at the end. If you follow the link it was apparently the Summer residence of the bishops of Ely and not occupied by Monks at all. The road has a new cycleway alongside it. As an example of a new build –it is pretty good. Could it be better yes, should it be better, well not give the limited resources available for cycling.  The shame is that further along closer to Fen Ditton there is a nasty slip road to the A14 that has no traffic light control which will probably put off younger cyclists (or their parents anyway). That could have done with a bit of money being spent on it. Spoiling the ship for a ha’porth of tar is the phrase that springs to mind. (If you follow the link then the meaning is what I thought, but the derivation completely different – ship means sheep!)

I stopped in Horningsea to take a picture of this old bike propped up against a tree. It always makes me wonder how and why bikes seem to get abandoned.  This is perhaps not the lightest of bikes but looks quite interesting to me. If you zoom in then you will see that it used to have rod-pull brakes, which are missing  The bike has seen better days, the saddle seems to be mainly duct tape and there is a lot of paint missing as well. But bikes are sturdy and fairly straightforward to maintain.  Mind you I am not sure I can remember ever working on a bike with rod brakes so spares could be a challenge.

After seeing the Phone Box Gallery I find myself taking pictures of village phone boxes.  There is no doubt about it the majority have seen better days both inside and out.  I would imagine that barely anyone uses this sort of phone box nowadays, except perhaps for shelter.  If I happen to be cycling near one and the rain suddenly comes down then they are useful places to put on waterproof gear. Although to be honest they do have peculiar smells and I am careful not to drop stuff on the floor!

The route out of Horningsea is along a bridleway which passes a farming “reservoir”. All you see are the banks and a sign, from the air it looks quite substantial – that is from a Satellite view. Actually although we call them Satellite views I think they are really aerial pictures taken from a plane.

The track takes you past Allicky Farm – just down the bottom of this picture.

The track then turns a corner before crossing the disused Cambridge to Mildenhall Railway Line. This is the disused railway line looking towards Quy I would imagine that the rubble is from a building used for railway purposes or an old farm building.

Of course it is no longer used as a railway line, it is actually a well used path, by walkers, cyclists and horse riders.  Oh what a coincidence there is a horse rider coming up the path (from the Lode direction).

There is a pipe that rungs alongside the railway line and is buried in the fields except when it pops over ditches between the fields. I took its picture a bit further down on a previous ride.

I also bumped into some people I knew a bit further down the path and had a chat and admired the new grandson (4 months old) out for some fresh air – it seemed to suit him he looked quite contented.

I did stop on the Swaffham Bulbeck Lode Bridge,part of the Lodes Way route (pdf). Whoever is painting the green on that tree on the left is slowly getting it covered.

This field is alongside the Lodes Way road (the road is unnamed) and the Swaffham Bulbeck Lode just after the bridge. The last time I cycled along here it was just soil – now there are seedlings peeping out. The last picture was taken on the 29th March ride on the way back from Ely.

A quick stop to taker a picture of the now green Headlake Drove.

I cycled along the Upware road (great Drove…) rather than the Lodes Way. After passing Swaffham Pumping Station I noticed a couple of cyclists heading  down the bridleway towards Reach alongside Reach Lode. Here they have stopped to chat with a young chap with a kite. Now there is a route I haven’t cycled along for ages – I must give it a go sometime soon.

Around the back of Wicken village the oil seed rape is already starting to flower.

The new wind pump in Wicken Fen has had a wooden fence built around it. I have yet to see the vanes turning though.

Wicken Lode meets Monk’s Lode.

On the way home I detoured around Burwell and back up Newnham Drove.  A few travellers are parked up along the Drove, but don’t be put off, I have never had any issues and have passed the occasional message along. (A lad was staking some horses down and wanted a hammer so I passed the message along for him.) Do watch out for youngsters playing though.

This is the view of Headlake Drove seen above, but from the other other direction.

As I was cycling out of Bottisham the shared use cycle path was blocked by this van. He did see me coming though and moved his van to provide a space for me to go past. Although he shouldn't have been on the path in the first place.

I passed quite a few cyclists out and about – the route does attract people which is good to see. did I also mention that my earphones broke. I was listening to some podcasts and one channel kept intermittently cutting out.  In the end I listened to it with only one earphone. It was too distracting having the intermittent switching.  When cycling with earphones the cable gets caught up and the earphones yanked out of my ears every now and then and so after while the wire breaks inside the lead.  When cycling I use open earpieces rather than the sort that jam up your ear canal, that way I can hear the noises around me as well as the podcast.  The earphones were bought in September 2007, as advised by Amazon when I went to buy some more. This time they were half price.

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