Thursday, June 9, 2011

Linseed on Lodes Way

Tuesday, 7th June: I am catching up somewhat on my posts this is only a couple of days in the past. But before that some late-breaking news ---

Cambridgeshire guided busway opening date announced

If you can’t be bothered to follow the link – it is promised to be the 7th August 2011. Although it does not actually say the year on the BBC web page. It was originally planned to be open by Spring 2009. The Cambridge News also reports on the CGB opening and within 5 or 6 hours there were ten pages of comment! Of course if you want the unvarnished truth then here is the Cambridgeshire County Council’s Press Release (CCC – PR). We should start seeing buses running soon as they start driver training before the opening.

It would also appear that Parking charges in the city set to rise – despite objections. Increases of up to 85% are planned for some parking permits and up to 50% in pay and display charges. In reality roads are really for driving about on and parking is secondary to that need. However since many cities with older houses pre-dated car ownership there just isn't the provision for car-owning households. Perhaps all significant new housing developments should have underground parking costed into the total cost. That way there would be provision and at the economic price. Although to be honest I an not that keen on promoting the use of cars particularly in cities which can be noisy and smelly at the best of times.

Whilst I am dealing with things that have caught my eye the recent release of accident data by CCC has been picked up with “Cyclists in more than half of road accidents”. I was pleased to see that there was a quote from Inspector Bob Turner of Cambridgeshire Police reminding motorists of the need to “give extra space when passing pedestrians and cyclists”.  In case  you were wondering the relevant Highway code rule (UK) is 163 which deals with overtaking, mind you if they add in some new rules it might not always be 163. Although apparently “fish swim as if they’re riding bicycles” so bear that in mind when overtaking a fish.

Although not something I do regularly I have cycled in foreign countries and the laws abroad do interest me. One of the interesting things about India (at least in the areas I rode) was that speed bumps are anonymous, they are just lumps across the road and if as a driver you aren’t paying attention you are in for a nasty shock.  I think it makes drivers more wary when going through towns and villages where such bumps are found.

I have cycled in a few states in the US and there are some feature of the US roads that I like such as 4-way stops. I also feel that whenever I have cycled in the US it has felt pretty good, however my cycling has been in the countryside (California, Alaska and Oregon). When I read about the issues cyclists face in cities it does not always look so good. As in this YouTube video – Bike Lanes.  The laws also sometimes seem an odd mix of bike-friendliness whilst also considering the bike/cyclist to be at a very low level of priority compared with cars. As in this Bike Law 101 article on Riding two abreast.

This is the gadget I want though – create your own bike lane. Perhaps with a wobbulator to indicate how bikes do wobble from time to time even when ridden by the most experienced cyclists.

Having cloud computing is wonderful, when it works and to be fair that is most of the time. Which is what I find as a user of Blogger, Picasa, Google and Yahoo email to name but  a few. However what I have also realised is that when they don’t work you are left wondering what on earth is going on.  Currently I am having problems uploading pictures onto my Picasaweb account from Picasa (my desktop photo client).

To cut a long story short it is getting stuck uploading pictures, sometimes uploading the same one several times. The trouble is at first you tend to feel that the fault lies with you. So I  re-booted my computer, fiddled with my pictures, tried different groups. I also looked on the web – eventually I found that others have also been experiencing the same problem.  That in itself is a relief because it means I can stop experimenting and carry on working around the problem.  I did add my response to the thread though at least that way Google get a sense of how many are affected.  I did wonder whether it was caused by IPv6 day.

The fiddling around delayed this post in fact.

And now onto the ride, almost. There are more flowers in this post, in fact the good news is that you haven’t missed the blue fields over between Lode and Quy behind Anglesey Abbey. This picture of a red sea of poppies at Blackstone Nature Reserve was beautiful.

So the ride – yet another route using Lodes Way and one I rather like. It is a complete loop with only the bit between Cambridge and Quy  where you re-trace your steps. It is generally on either quiet country lanes or off-road, but the off-road is pretty easy and pleasant. The only exception would be Black Droveway between Reach and Swaffham Prior and there are ways around that.

The distance is 55Km / 34 miles and it is pretty flat, the only slight hill I can think of is the one in Swaffham Bulbeck and yes there is also a slight rise into Swaffham Prior – what is it with these Swaffhams eh?  Here is the Bike Route Toaster link.

Although it was not a blue sky and sunny sort of day the clouds in the sky did give a more dramatic feel. Fortunately not so dramatic that it started pouring with rain – there were just a few spots.

The dark clouds over this bright yellow field of oilseed rape did look make a good contrast though. This is just along the Drove Way.

What I was surprised at was that the blue linseed or flax fields had returned. Perhaps it doesn’t like the sun, but there was quite a good cover of blue on the fields each side of the old Cambridge to Mildenhall Railway track.

This is the view along the old track bed looking towards Lode – made up of 4 pictures stitched together.

The last time along here there were only flowers along near the hedge and now they are back again. I should have asked my wife who knows more about this sort of thing. each Flax plant has a main stem from which multiple smaller stems sprout with flowers on each. It would seem that the flowering of the flowers from each plant is staged.  It should be harvested when 90% of its bolls turn brown.

At last a blue field – well almost.

As I cycled along Fen Road alongside Bottisham Lode I was more than a little surprised to see more fields of Flax growing. I’d just not noticed this before. I guess I don’t really pay much attention to plants unless they are in flower.

As I turned down White Fen Droveway (Lodes Way) the entire length of the road (White Fen Droveway) from Fen Road down to White Fen had flax growing alongside.  Something I had just not noticed.

Just as I reached Sandy Road (which is the same road as White Fen Droveway) I noticed this field with a strip of poppies interspersed amongst the crops. It is not always that unusual to see a strip of more varied growth alongside the usual mono-culture. Apparently, according to my son, it is to do with Conservation Headlands. Something devised in the 1980s to help stop the declining wildlife in arable land.  There is less intensive management along field edges along with reduced pesticide and fertiliser inputs to help maintain a greater variety of plants, insects, birds and mammals.  The link also suggests that grants can also be paid to farmers. I am not sure if this is still the case, this link suggests it is.

I carried along Lodes Way rather than divert to Upware and stopped to take some pictures of the giant plants growing alongside the road.  I do feel that these are Conium or Hemlock. it looks similar to Cow Parsley but grows much taller and the stalks are a bit blotchy,

Indeed it is so tall I had to point my camera up to take a picture.

A little bit further along I was struck by the colour alongside the road – Split Drove. Whilst cycling along the Burwell Fen bit of Lodes Way I passed a cyclist taking pictures looking across to Burwell Fen Farm. I am not the only one then!

As a departure from my normal route planning after passing over the bridge over Burwell Lode I turned left up Harrison’s Drove and then along Wicken Lode towards a cock-up bridge.  I heard and looked out for a cuckoo bit didn’t see it – I’d better fit a GPS onto it.

Whilst standing on the cock-up bridge over Wicken Lode a longboat came by on Burwell Lode. Although it might not look it he is standing in Moonlight. Actually I think the boat is really called Moonlight Stone.

After cycling up the Upware Road, over Docking’s Lane (which isn’t so good in the wet) and onto NCN11 I turned off Lodes Way after Wicken Fen and down to Burwell. It has been so dry recently that this farmer has started haymaking – which seem early to me, but I am not a farmer.

After passing through Reach there were two choices to get to Swaffham Prior – Barston Drove shown here and the one I took Black Droveway. I am pleased to see that the fly-tipped rubbish that was just up this track has been removed.

Black Droveway is probably the least cycle friendly bit of this ride and could be avoided by taking the road between Reach and Swaffham Prior. I like it though because it does test my bike skills, a little.

It looks as if the farmer who left those track behind with is tractor had maybe had a drop too much of cider – or whatever the flatland equivalent is. (I used to live in Somerset where cider was the home-brewed drink of choice.)

AI noticed when looking at the map that parallel to Barston Droveway is Driest Droveway, I wonder how it got that name. When I looked it up on Google there were just five hits – this will be the sixth. Here is one of those links – Burwell History. (Also the Lodes ade called Loads.)

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