Saturday, 10th September: It was my chance to get out and cycle – there was a Grand Prix tomorrow and Hurricane Katia was on its way. Chores were done, oh yes it was also time to catch up on The Archers. (Mind you the misery being visited upon Bridge Farm means I have to be feeling pretty positive to go through with it and yes I do know it is not real.)
I have also bought a new pair of sunglasses, I know that sounds odd at the end of the Summer – but my old ones (Tifosi – something like these) are looking pretty battered. The rubber on the nose bridge has pretty much “rotted”. I liked them and felt they made for comfortable cycling sunglasses that were also OK for general use. I don’t blame them for the problem with the wasp getting between the lens and my eye either. However sometimes a change is as good as a rest and by buying at the end of the season there is the chance of a bargain.
Now a bargain is only a bargain if you actually need the item you buy – well I am still using sunglasses at the moment – there are way too many flying things around not to. So I bought some Rudy Project sunglasses instead this time – they don’t have a frame all around and I wonder whether that will help reduce the problem of the lenses steaming up. (Although the Tifosi sunglasses were pretty good in that department.)
So when catching up on podcasts a good route is one of the permutations of the Lodes Way Loop. In the end I went for Number 21, just under 60Km/37 miles in length and with a good mix of reasonable tracks and the occasional country lane. One or two of the bridleways do get a bit water-logged, but I didn’t think they would be too bad as we have not had much in the way of sustained rain for a while. Unfortunately the Cambridge DTG website has experienced a failure of their rain sensor over the last week so it is not really worth looking at their historic data.
Here is the map of the route I took, no annotations as it was an uneventful ride, still pleasant though.
The first stop was on the old railway bridge over what was the course of the Cambridge to Mildenhall Railway line on High Ditch Road. (On old maps the road has the annotation Fleam Dyke alongside and clearly I hadn’t put two and two together and realised this is the same dyke as runs parallel with the road (pdf) between Fulbourn and Balsham, but near the Fulbourn end.
I quite like the old steam trains, I think it must because they were still around when I was a young (very) lad. As a cyclist I do think that it is a great shame that all old railway lines weren’t converted into decent (as in with a tarmac surface) cycle routes before they were reabsorbed into the countryside.
In that vein I bought a small publication “By Rail to Mildenhall, The Story of the Cambridge to Mildenhall Railway” by Peter Turner. (It is a Mildenhall Museum Publication, published in 1978. What I really wanted it for was the old pictures to see what I could glean about the areas I now cycle through. I was hoping to get a sense of the land around the old railway bridge over Swaffham Bulbeck Lode – which is referred to in the book as No. 3 Gate House, Swaffham Prior. (Here is an article on the web about the line with pictures – pdf)
The reason I stopped here was that the leaves look like they are just about to turn autumnal.
Although I come along here fairly frequently I missed this – it looks like a stolen car was abandoned and burnt out. But such things don’t hang round for long in these parts, although clearing up after fly-tippers does not come cheap.
As I have said before, farming isn’t a business where you hang around – once one crop is up you have to be working on getting things ready for the next. This farmer was working on a field just around from Snouts Corner, on the other side of Low Fen Drove Way.
Talking about putting old disused railway lines to good use here is the route of the aforementioned Cambridge to Mildenhall line – it makes a good route for farmers, walkers and cyclists. The fields either side had linseed in them – once harvested the farmer didn’t hang around.
After reaching the road I stopped to take a “dramatic2 picture of this haystack with a “rake” in the foreground. Farming equipment is multi-purpose – sometimes it is used on the fields and other times it is used to block the field entrances.
I’ve always felt that the “shed” on the left is an old railway truck that has been put to a different use.
After passing through White Fen and Swaffham Bulbeck Lode I passed this field that had been fallow this year – with some very nice poppies in it. It looks like it has had enough rest.
On the other side of the road this field had beetroot growing, it hardly seems anytime at all it was harvested – now the next crop is showing.
A bit further on evidence of the stronger winds we get at this time of year. Although there are no hills the wind can be troublesome for cyclists.
A bit further along and there was another tree down. Part of the tree had been blown down a while ago so it was probably only a matter of time.
At times it seems that the NT can move very quickly to get something done, at other times things seem to move at a snail’s pace. The route up to Reach Lode bridge has had various bits of work done with this concrete apron being the most recent. It should stop idiot car drivers from trying to drive over the bridge though (when it is finished that is).
Along Lodes Way the clouds were looking a little like there might be rain. On my way around I had felt a few spits of rain – but nothing more. (This is where Newnham Drove and Lodes Way intersect.)
Another picture taken in the same place, yet more dramatic clouds.and partially finished gating.
There were no Tandemers to assist on the footbridge over Burwell Lode and as it has been dry Harrison’s Drove was dry. Strangely enough despite it being Saturday there didn’t seem to be anyone around where the boats are moored near Upware.
A bit further along on Docking’s Lane (a byway that can get wet and muddy) it was dry. This gate didn’t seem to fir the field quite so well.
As I approached Reach this field was back in flower with Winter Oilseed Rape. As you might expect the track between Reach and Swaffham Prior was also bone dry and remarkably easy to navigate. Not in a getting lost sort of way though, just in a slipping and sliding and dabbing sort of way.
As I cycled into Swaffham Prior the sky was a reminder that the nights are starting to draw in and time for a bit of sunset photography. I love the lemon sky lighting up the silhouette of the treeline.
You can’t beat a cycle ride through the countryside – it certainly helped to offset the doom and gloom of The Archers – Jack Woolley had a stroke.