Thursday, 24th November: A quick recap this was a fresh air ride and I nipped off around Wicken Fen – out along NCN51, then across to Lode to join the Lodes Way, detouring around Upware and across onto NCN11 via a wetter and slippery Docking’s lane, the orange unnamed dotted line in the middle from High Fen Road to Lower Drove. I then returned along Lodes Way.
There are loads (or should that be lodes) of sugar beet clamps popping up. I guess part of the challenge is leaving the beet in the ground for as long as possible to maximise the sugar content, but getting it harvested and shipped of to the Sugar factories before the freezing weather which affects the beet and makes the sugar harder to refine out.
The same pile but from further up the road.
Since cycling around and paying a bit more attention to the farming activity that takes place I have realised that the work never ceases. Although some fields get harvested and ploughed and re-drilled in what seems like no time, there are others awaiting their turn. Here is a field halfway between ploughed soil and stubble.
However is ploughing it is not following the same lines as the person who drilled the field. Although I have only cycled a few miles up the road the soil colour is ruddy-brown compared with the black peaty soil of earlier.
After a bit of slipping and sliding on Docking’s Lane which is a muddy track I picked up a fair bit of mud. Although hard-packed mud easier for cycling along compared with slippery wet mud this type of cycling does help sharpen up my bike handling skills – ready for the slipper leaves of Autumn and then the ice and snow of Winter. You do have to pick your route a little more carefully. It is also slightly strange pedalling faster than the bike actually moves because of wheel-slip. Mind you although it is tiring as long as you maintain some momentum you can keep going.
As I headed back to Wicken along NCN11 the mud gets thrown of the wheels as they spin faster- you get a sort of splat-splat noise. I also find my legs get a bit mud-splattered as the wheels shed their mud.
The sign warns that there is mud and silt clearing taking place in the stretch of Wicken’s Lode near the entrance. It takes place on an 8-yearly rotation.
Here is that stretch, the clearings have been dumped along both sides of the path (NCN11). This path certainly takes a bit of battering. It is not the cyclists and walkers so much as all the vehicles that use it.
One of the advantages of using my longer lens is that you can take pictures of things off in the distance. (The notice a couple of pictures back was much trickier.) There seems to be a boat moored halfway down Burwell Lode near the site of the industrial buildings. I don’t think that this is a regular mooring spot. It looks like they have a cycle trailer parked on the bank.
The last picture was taken from the Lodes Way footbridge over Burwell Lode, as is this one. There were no bird-watchers on the mound this time. I should imagine that it is a bit early in the day for the short-eared owls to feed (or should than be forage!). The buildings are labelled Burwell Fen Farm on the OS map.
There were people about their business though. In the mid-ground are two people attending to a horse and further back is a farmer ploughing.
This is how the ground looks at the moment – still quite green – I rather liked the picture for its semi-abstract appearance.
Although some parts of this area are being allowed to revert to a less farmed state there is still farming in evidence around and about. This picture was taken from the Reach Lode bridge. Bridges are good places to take pictures from, especially with a long-ish zoom lens. They provide a good vantage point and somewhere to rest the camera on to reduce camera shake.
Looking back towards Wicken there is a windmill in evidence. Mind you looking at the map a line between Reach lode Bridge and Priory Farm suggests that this is the windmill in the village and not the one in Wicken Sedge Fen.
When on a bridge take pictures is my motto, as you can see there are a bunch of poles running alongside the lode towards Upware. With a zoom lens they appear much closer to each other than they really are. The path along the bank seems well used.
This sign post is at the point where Split Drove ends. The blue signs point the way for users of Lodes Way, the green signs pint out the way for people using the Straight Drove byway.
As I mentioned earlier, there is still a fair bit of ploughing to be done, this field looks about a third done.
This picture was taken at the point that Split Drove meets Headlake Drove, there is a bridge cross Commissioners' Drain. This is looking along the drain. The bridge you can see is where Straight Drove crosses the drain. I am surprised by how the pylons stand out, they are some way beyond Wicken village.
I think this is the same field with stripes I took from Reach lode bridge earlier.
One of the pleasant aspects of getting out a bit earlier in the day is you see different activities in the fields, although perhaps a bit less wild-life.