Friday, December 2, 2011

Wiggles and Undulations along Lodes Way part 1

Thursday, 24th November: I had a sad journey to make on Friday, to the funeral an Auntie in Scotland. As they say she had a good innings and was in her 100th year, not quite making it to her hundredth birthday. Up until very recently she lived in her own flat and had not long moved into a home.  She had always got a good memory and right up to the end she enjoyed the spelling bees held in the care home. Her only complaint was that they were too easy.

I had booked to fly up and back on the Friday, with EasyJet from Stansted.  Making “last-minute” arrangements has been made so easy with the Internet and it is easy to forget  just how it has changed our lives and take it for granted. The only reminders are when we lose our broadband connection in the middle of doing something. Indeed my Aunt booked her tickets on the Internet when she came down for Christmas a few years ago.

The tickets weren’t the cheapest, but they were still only around the cost of the train fare. The advantage of flying was that I would be able to get up and back in a day. So I felt that I was justified in nipping out for an afternoon cycle on the Thursday in order to stave of DVT – hopefully.

Since this was a fresh air ride I nipped of around Wicken Fen – out along NCN51, then across to Lode to join the Lodes Way, detouring around Upware and across onto NCN11 via Docking’s lane,the orange unnamed dotted line in the middle from High Fen Road to Lower Drove. The “look and feel” of the OSM Cycle map has evolved a bit since I last had a look. I then returned along Lodes Way.

I hadn’t planned on taking lots of pictures, as this was meant to be a quick ride around to stretch my legs. As is often the case I then do the reverse and took quite a few pictures, so I have split the post into two. My excuse is that it was a bright sunny afternoon.

The first stop was to take a picture of a couple of horses that in a paddock opposite the Jack of Clubs Farm. (The farm gets a mention on Kevin’s Running Diary, along with a lot of wildlife sightings. Apparently it was a opened as a public house in 1846 and was a farm by 1880.

As you can see despite the sunny weather these horses are wrapped up for the Winter.

They certainly add a splash of colour to the scene.

As I stood taking pictures there was a build-up of traffic along the road. This time out I was still using my long lens (100-300mm – 200mm – 600mm in 35mm speak.) The waterway is Bottisham Lode and its wiggles have been accentuated by the telephoto lens.

With slightly less zoom you can see how the road follows the lode. The lode links the River Cam to Lode village and is 4Km/2.5 miles long. According to the Wikipedia article it was navigable in medieval times and there is evidence of moorings in Quy. This view looks down towards Lode.

The view up towards the River Cam is just as wiggly mind.

As I cycled through White Fen there seemed to have been a whole load more planting taken place. This time on the left side of the path – heading towards Wicken Fen. Someone has been hard at work.

Here is the planting seen from the Swaffham Bulbeck Lode bridge.

I am not quite sure what they use such big mounds to grow, they are quite far apart for potatoes for instance and I don’t think you plant potatoes at this time of year. (Asparagus or celery?- it will be interesting to see what grows. (This is along the Upware road._

As you can see the road between Upware and Swaffham Prior is in a reasonable state – although it does undulate quite a bit. Peat is not the easiest of things to construct roads on. There are still quite a few leaves yet to drop. This is the view looking down in the Swaffham Prior direction.

And this is the view in the Upware direction. There is a white van at the end of the road – the road has a right hand bend at that point – it is where the Chapel in the Fen is.

Farming definitely seems to have become more “intensive” no sooner is one crop out of the ground than another is in and growing – even into the Winter – nice lines.

There appears to be a building encampment at Upware, although it was tricky taking picture of the whole camp with my long lens. The camp has been built behinds the parking and picnic spot, on the right just after passing Reach Lode Lock. Birse Civils seem to be the contractor. I couldn’t find anything mentioning it on the web when I looked earlier and a quick search now doesn’t throw anything up. It might fit into this package of works perhaps.

As you can see there are quite a few huts in place, that might or might not be portakabins in place – of course getting the Satellite TV in places was important!

The other crop that many farmers seem to be busy digging up is sugar beet. There are quite a few beet clamps appearing – trying to get delivered before the frosts come and affect them I guess. The process of harvesting and delivering is known as the “campaign” (according to Wikipedia) and takes around 5 months in the UK. What they are trying to ensure is a steady flow into the processing factories.

Another change I’ve seen over the years is the switch from rectangular bales to these round ones.

As a kid I lived near a Dutch barn and we did what they tell all kids not to do – play in the haystack. We used to make dens inside – the danger is that they can collapse on you, or that you are stupid and play with matches and end up setting fire to the haystack. We did neither, but a haystack made from these round bales would be tricky to build a den in.

Oops I forgot to mention a couple of links (and also to set the publish date so this post appears in the right place.

The first link was mention of the creation of a reedbed in Cambridgeshire, using that standard unit of measurement – a Trafalgar Square -  it will be 310 acres or 125 hectares in area. The second link was a painting of Aldreth High Bridge on the Aldreth Causeway near – yes you’ve guessed it Aldreth – it is sold though. Also on a wildlife theme the Adder is now an endangered species, they weren’t that common when I was a boy growing up in the Mendips. I also found a site that runs Sportives – with one held around the Wimpole Estate in September.

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