Monday, November 7, 2011

If you go down to the grey, old Fens today–you’re…

Saturday, 5th November: I don’t know about firework night, it was certainly a grey day on Saturday. So grey that in a strange way it made getting out on my bicycle that bit more difficult. So I went for a fairly short trip out, out along NCN51 to Wicken Fen and then back along Lodes Way. here is the Bike Route Toaster Link to the map below. It was a shade under 50Km/30 miles and I was slightly delayed by my computer crashing just before heading out. I recently downloaded a large update (~300Mb or so I think), which strangely was the 2007 Microsoft Office Suite Service pack 3, although I run Office 2010?

Whatever it was, it caused a few problems, files weren’t showing as copying between directory windows. I also found that I couldn’t download my latest ride data from my Edge GPS unit. When that happens paranoia sets in and I worry about whether it might have corrupted the GPS database and that's it – all my ride data lost. My computer wouldn’t shut down and when it did it wouldn’t restart – gulp. It did in the end – although not before reporting, via the diagnostic lights that there was a possible expansion card failure. I finally got it running and really did feel like a bit of cycling then.

Just recently I have also been having problems turning my Edge GPS 605 unit on. It would seem that I have been to impatient, you have to hold down the on-switch for a second or so then leave it for what seems like ages and then it beeps and the screen starts showing start up data. I see this as a user-interface failure. Given the speed of modern electronics it ought to be able to switch on in a more user-friendly fashion than that.

I am still wearing shorts to cycle (flies zipped!), but I now wear a top (yellow fluorescent) over my shirt and also socks with my sandals. I don’t know why but at the moment I find socks sufficient, yet come the depths of winter it is always my toes that are the first to complain about the cold. The temperature hovered between 10C and 14C and there was no sun whatsoever that day.

On the way out there was a car that looked as if it had been in an accident parked in the entrance to the Quy Mill Hotel, just of the road. The way the bonnet had been damaged made me wonder if it had lifted the car it crashed into?

After passing through Bottisham on the way to Swaffham Prior there was a little splash of colour. Although the sort of colour that is really not needed.  Yet another lazy tosser who couldn’t be bothered disposing of it properly. It did make me wonder whether someone might have had it stolen, rifled and dumped. I didn’t actually check out whether there was anything left in it though.

It is some time since I have taken NCN51 out of Cambridge, I tend to take alternate routes more often than not. This is the turn into Swaffham Prior. With so many leaves on the pavement you have to taker a little more care - they can be quite slippery on a bicycle. And yes I have slipped of my bike on a leafy pavement – I wasn’t going fast and stepped off the bike which then fell to the ground.

In Swaffham Prior the autumn leaves against this white wall looked interesting – although the picture is a little flatter than it looked in real life.

The cottage attached to the white wall. Look at the unrelenting grey sky.

On the way out of Burwell along Factory Road I made a quick stop to take a picture of this clamp of sugar beet awaiting collection – presumably before the frost comes along and cause problems to the sugar contact.

A quick loop around Wicken Fen along the Maltings Path and then back in on NCN11. Actually I did see loads of cars up near the footbridge over Burwell Lode and was going to take a picture of them all. (So that i could make some caustic comment about it being a shame they couldn’t visit in a more environmentally friendly manner. However I thought I would do that on my way back down.

I did notice the the new windpump is in operation. It is being used to pump water into Sedge Fen, which is the reverse of what pumps were used for in these parts. I seem to remember that it will mainly operate during the Winter months. (Which is when I presume there is more water.) Mind you this table of rainfall at the Cambridge University Botanical Garden indicates August is on average the wettest month.

And here is the Wind pump in action – brought to you by the power of You Tube and my shaky camerawork!

On my way out of Wicken Fen I saw quite a group of people on the Burwell Lode foot bridge. These were there for a purpose and probably also the reason there were so many cars parked up all around. There wasn’t a lot of space to pass by with my bike and several had set up tripods just near the “down ramp”. Which made quite a tricky manoeuvre even trickier there were a few comments at how unwieldy it was trying to get a bike over the bridge.

As I reached the Newnham Drove/Lodes Way junction there were a whole load more Twitchers.  Now that term is usually applied to bird-watchers who travel “long distances” to see the birds. Well given all the cars I would say that this lot had probably travelled a reasonable distance. This picture was not what they were there for though. I was going to take a video of the birds as they swarmed around – they were a little bit too far away though. It is remarkable how they all seem to turn together.

The birds of interest were short-eared owls down from Scandinavia apparently. They were down for a picnic – apparently the voles are delicious at this time of year.  I do see quite a lot of voles (comparatively speaking) when cycling – they tend to be fleeting sightings as a vole darts across a track. In fact the last vole I saw was at the Newnham drove / Lodes Way junction it nipped across in front of me. They tend to be too fast for me to even think about getting a picture though.

The birding websites are abuzz with the news though. So there you have it, if you go down to the Fens today – you’ll see some Twitchers.

As to be expected there were people and cars at all possible entry points including near Reach Lode Bridge just of Split Drove.

Did I mention it was a grey day?

It wasn’t just grey it was misty. I switched my lights on at this point as one or two cars followed my along Split Drove and Headlake Drove.

And before I forget the view the other way along the Lode towards Reach.

One of the benefits on not having had a proper cycle ride for a few days is that even on grey days it was really invigorating.  Despite not being as fit as I would like I got home at a reasonable pace with a big smile on my face despite the drizzle. This cycling lark is definitely to be recommended.


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