Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A circular ride from Cambridge to Exning and back

Tuesday, 4th October: Flip, I seem to be slipping behind on my Posts faster than you can shake a spoke at a cog. So rather than just let my posts mount up I think I’d better just bang out a few over the next few days. (Which means that I ought to keep them short and sweet, rather than load up each Post).

Every now and then life just gets in the way, not bad life or good life, just life.  I have had to do a little bit of commuting and cycled into the deepest parts of the City of Cambridge last week. Now the nights are drawing in I found myself having to use lights at both ends of the day!

There are also a load of Web pages that have stacked up on my browser – which does seem slow my computer down – but if I am to get out a quick post then I will have to leave them hanging there. Which is a shame, ‘cos I find them interesting and want to mention them.

So I’ll restrict myself to a couple or three mentions. The first is to an “unblur” filer being worked on by Adobe – the before and after pictures on this link are pretty amazing- that is something I could really make use of.

The other links are CGB (Cambridge Guided Busway) Cycleway related. First the good news – Travelling the Cambridgeshire guided busway has two updates on the progressing being made on adding tarmac to the cycleway between St Ives and Swavesey. First there was some tarmac and now there is some more. I was going to pop up over this weekend but extreme lethargy overcame me, I woke up with a headache and practically slept all day.

The second bit of CGB Cycleway good news is that there has been “Censure for busway driver after bike crash”. I, in no way condone the actions of the cyclist who was cycling on the CGB concrete tracks, however two wrongs don’t make a right. It worries me that the bus driver then ran over that silly cyclist’s bike. I am not interested in punishment of poor drivers so much as doing things that correct bad driving. let’s hope that the censure has that effect. I am sure that the Bus Company don’t really want the cost of such damage.

So where did I cycle, well around Exning and then across to Wicken Fen. I like it because much of it is off-road – although the bit that runs alongside the A14 is quite noisy.  If you follow the OSM Cyclemap then it appears that there is not right of way- there is on the OS map and quite a good right of way it is. I can’t remember the last time I passed someone on it either.  This time around I didn’t take the bridleway from the Newmarket Road to the Swaffham Heath Road – it isn’t shown either (on the OSM cycle map).

Here is the Bike Route Toaster link – just over 50Km/33 miles and it reaches the dizzy heights of 40m above sea level.

After passing along NCN51 out of Cambridge and around Swaffham Bulbeck I left the Sustrans route and carried along the Swaffham Heath Road to a small turn just before it crosses the A14. It looks as if you are cycling along the driveway of a house, it does carry on past them though.

View Larger Map

This is the byway/bridleway after you have turned off – it runs parallel to the A14 and although most of the time there is a hedgerow between you and the road there are places where you can see the road quite clearly. As a cyclist I tend to cycle down the middle to avoid getting a bramble in the eye. You have to pay attention though as the middle rut wavers a bit.

The fruits of autumn- although perhaps not if you live in Southampton!

The “campaign” has started as this link on Sugar beet refers to it. The harvesting takes place between September and Christmas when the amount of sugar is at its highest. Winter frosts can cause problems with the sugar beet making it harder to get the sugar.  According to the link there are around 10 million tonnes grown annually which yields 1.4 million tonnes of sugar and 750,000 tonnes of animal feed.

It seems that the harvesting has already produced quite a clamp of beet, which is being loaded onto lorries for transportation to the sugar factories. The nearest one is probably down at Bury St Edmunds, conveniently just off the A14. This road is (another) Heath Road between Burwell and Exning and is the route of NCN51.

On the way I cycled along Oxford Street, no I had not gotten lost, it is in Exning and despite having cycled through Exning quite a few times is something I had not noticed before. (Or if I have, I’ve forgotten – which does seem to happen when you get older.)

In fact I followed a couple of horses (and their riders) down Oxford Street. One thing about horse riding in these parts (close to Newmarket that is) is that car drivers tend to be more patient around horses on the road. I followed them down to North End (road) and then with a ting of my bell to alert them was waved past with a smile.

This is a Straw Bale House – (here is a pdf link search for Exning).

And here are some straw bales, although not in Exning. The route I follow between between Exning and Burwell follows a bridleway, starting as Haycroft Lane and then after crossing the Ness Road it is called Howlem Balk.  This is alongside Howlem Balk.

This is the view looking back down Howlem Balk towards the Ness Road.

I then headed up towards Wicken Fen along a road that starts off as Dyson’s Drove, but halfway along is called Factory Road. There used to be a Manure Works here and there was a railway line connecting with the Ely Newmarket Line near Soham. Apparently Fulbourn Hospital and the Cambridge Corn Exchange were funded from Coprolite revenues.

More recently a car hire company used to be based near here – Cars for Stars Cambridge. I happened to be in the area a couple of years ago when there was a fire and some of the hire cars were damaged. I am not totally sure if it was the same company or not.

On the way around Wicken Fen, the wrong way along the Maltings Path the field alongside had been recently ploughed. When I say wrong way I mean the bit where NCN11 branches off and the Maltings Path carries on.

After circling Wicken Fen (almost) I headed back down Lodes Way. Just near the but where Newnham Drove and Lodes Way intersect is an excavation where clay was dug to build “embankments” or a bund around this bit of the Fen to facilitate its flooding (see page 5 of the pdf).  Here it is awaiting the time of year when water can be pumped in – the Winter months. It will take three to four years for the water level to rise.

This picture was made by stitching two together – the join is not that good I’m afraid.

As the year draws on the nights draw in it seems. Mind you the cloud overhead doesn’t help – there is a sun up there really.

As I cycled along another feature of the earlier evenings seems to be that I see for more deer out and about.  These were in Sedge Fen and strangely seemed to run across the field away from me and then down towards me. Their problem was that there was a drainage ditch so they had to head to the bit with a way out – which happened to cross the road (Split Drove) a few metres away from me. Unfortunately I couldn’t cycle and take out my camera and take pictures at the same time.

Split Drove then meets Headlake Drove which is shared with general motor traffic.  This road was re-surfaced  in September 2010 – here is the Post I wrote.

Here is the picture of those roadworks. (22nd September 2010).

This is what it looks like now – what worries me is that cyclists along this section of road could easily find themselves thrown of their bikes if their wheels get caught in the gaps. It seems to me that this will only get worse and since it is on a cycle way really needs to get fixed. Mind you I don’t hold out much hope. So I will report it and report back on what occurs. Here is the weblink for Cambridgeshire County Council's pothole and other faults reporting facility. I have used the map facility – you have to zoom in and click on the centre line of the road.

Here is the entry – there was very limited space to enter a description – which is why it is a bit terse. Let’s see what happens.

An example of one of those cracks. I wouldn’t like to cycle along here in the dark without some very powerful lights.  Although I have cycled along Lodes Way (Burwell Fen) without lights once or twice after MikeC mentioned it to me, there was a decent moon.

Oops I nearly forgot to complete the form – there is a second page with more space for a description. There is then a third page that requests name/address/telephone number and email.  I omitted my phone number though. Here is the link to the Problem Tracking page. For some reason it seems to have noted it as a footway problem – I found that it wasn’t easy to click on the map. Ah well if that doesn’t work I will report if again, or perhaps though another reporting channel (for instance the CTC – Fill That Hole).

After turning off the through bit of Lodes Way the route to the Swaffham Bulbeck Lode bridge also shows a bit of damage. Although this can be a bit unsettling I am not sure it is quite as dangerous.

The leaves are quite autumnal though.

Another post down – quite a few more in the pipeline!


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