Monday, December 5, 2011

Across the fields to Childerley and then back via St Ives part 1

Saturday, 3rd December: My wife had signed up for a Christmas Wreath making day at one of the not so local National Trust properties with some of her friends so we had already done the week’s shopping the day before. What is more it was sunny and not cold (10C).

I haven’t really cycled along a new bridleway or byway for ages so I figured it was time to a change of scene, but where? In the end this is the route I followed.  I have cycled around the Childerley area before (here, here and here to  name but three). The route from Dry Drayton to Childerley was not the easiest route for cycling along the last time I did it. There is a well signed bridleway, but the  path itself was a mud path well used by horses and on a slope. On a dry day it would just be bumpy on a wet day the cloying mud makes it very hard work.

My plan was to cycle through Dry Drayton and check it out, then if it looked too much like hard work I was going to take the cycle way through to Bar Hill and up to Lolworth. In the event I took the route I planned. Here is the Bike Route Toaster Link, it is  just over 50Km / 32 miles long and reaches the dizzy heights of 70m above sea level.

I took the river route along to Magdalene Street – for a change rather than any particular convenience, as routes go it can get pretty busy with pedestrians and then on the street buses, taxis and cyclists. I cycled out off Cambridge on Madingley Road. It is an odd hodge-podge of a road with shred-used paths and various bits of wide road painted up to be thinner.

For the last bit I used the shared-use path on the right-hand side of the road, which is pleasant since the traffic can get quite fast in places. The path though is quite thin and not that suitable for two-way cycling. I did have a near miss with an on-coming cycling just because there was barely any room. I slowed down, she didn’t and our handlebars were separated by about a centimetre.

I could have carried along wider cycle path to Hardwick and then across to Dry Drayton, but instead pass through Madingley, with views of Madingley Hall. It was acquired by the University in 1948 for £50,000. Apparently black squirrels have been seen in the grounds.

After wending my way through to Dry Drayton I set out along Scotland Road, which has the misfortune to be a “short-cut” between the A428 and the A14. Some friends once rented a house on this road, a house that led to them renaming the place Damp Drayton.  Cars whizz along this road in both direction once out of  the village and yet the countryside is really rather pleasant. Unlike the fens it is gently (very gently) undulating with trees. Whilst there is a bridleway to Childerley on the other side of the road there is a footpath to Dry Drayton. It takes you down to follow the path of Callow Brook which runs between Hardwick and Dry Drayton.

The path follows the first line of trees in the picture I think. I do think that sometimes there are quite a few of the more remote footpaths that would benefit by allowing cyclists to use them.  It would help make them a bit more accessible.  I guess the concern would be about the extra “traffic” damaging the path and the need to put in cycle friendly gates.  Our network of paths is a hidden treasure in some parts I fear. Callow Brook gets a mention in the Dry Drayton Parish Council minutes – work on flooding problems.

This is Scotland Road, just before taking the picture two cars passed by travelling in the same direction, one overtaking the other at a great rate of knots. I did wonder just how much attention would have been paid to a cyclist travelling in the other direction. I have been pushed into the verge more than once by over-taking cars. I think they become so fixated on cars they they fail to see other types of road user. I also would imagine that the window pillar probably obscures their line of sight as well.

This is the view looking back towards Dry Drayton, the paths are well signed and look their is even a bicycle symbol the route across to Childerley must be ok.

After crossing the road and passing through the gap in the hedge – this is the friendly sign that greets you. I suppose that here in the UK guns are now so heavily controlled that we have become somewhat shocked by them. It was usual to see farmers out and about with their guns where I grew up in the Mendips. I have had a farmer wave his gun in my direction. As young lads we didn’t rally think he was going to shoot at us, it was more like waving a stick in our direction.

I can’t help but feel that this approach is a heavy-handed way of trying to stop people from wandering from the beaten path. Although to be fair if they do a bit of shooting it is better to be forewarned. I wonder how often they do shoot around here?

The path heads out across the field rather than along the hedgerow. The 1930 OS map shows this as a “road” all the way to Childerley Hall. As you can see it is a soil path although fortunately it looks like a couple of bicycles have been through along the right hand side of the path. My tyres are just a tad too thin for comfort on this sort of track, The track does go down though which makes it easier.

This is that last track viewed after reach the bottom. It looks reasonably steep – for a flatlander.

The same view but viewed from the bridge over another brook that appears to be nameless on the various OS maps I have looked at. .

That is the course of the brook as it makes its way towards Bar Hill and ultimately the Great River Ouse.

What goes down must go up. There was a climb back up from the brook – once again the place to cycle looked to be to the right. It was and I managed to keep going without stopping. It wouldn’t be easy if it got much stickier.

There appears to be a named path the Pathfinder 46 mile Circular Walk. It is used for an annual 46-mile walk around four main airbases of the Pathfinder Force. RAF Wyton, Gravely, Oakington and Warboys.

As I mentioned before, for a flatlander, this countryside is really rather rolling.  After passing through a bit of woodlands, which has Edinburgh Farm marked on the older maps nearby it was down hill again. This is the view looking back along the track. Inevitably dome pylons have made there way into the picture.

And finally as I neared Childerley there was a gravel road. The village was depopulated by Sir John Cutte in the 16th Century in order to form a deer park!

I have taken picture before of the Hall so check out the links earlier in this Post. This time I concentrated on the tracks themselves for some reason. This is the bridleway out, at least the one I took there are a couple of footpaths that converge on Childerley.

After getting home I realised there was a shorter route to Battle Gate which I must try out the next time. This time around I went the long way round Bird’s Pastures Farm.


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