Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sunny, Wintery Wicken Fen

Monday, 2nd January 2011: We’ve had a bit or rain recently so the byways and bridleways are a bit soggy. I still managed to get out around Honey Hill (near Quy) and across to Lodes Way. As I type this I am certainly glad I went out yesterday – the wind is blowing a gale and there is quite a lot or rain. According to the Cambridge University DTG’s (Digital Technology Group) weather page we have had gusts of up to nearly 60 miles an hour. Yesterday there was a stiff breeze, unfortunately against me on the way back but it was sunny virtually all day. It does seem much worse in other parts of the country though with 105mph gales and Force 11 winds according to the Daily Mail. Where Force 11 is a violent storm on the Beaufort Scale.

The good news is that the days are getting longer, or at least the gap between Sunrise and Sunset is getting longer. For Monday the gap was 7 hours and 49 minutes  (8 minutes longer than the shortest day) and by the end of the month it will be just over 9 hours.

I also had a fair few episodes of  The Archers (along with Ambridge Extra) to catch up on as well. I tend to interleave the two so that the story lines match up.

Something I associate with Spring, although really they tend to come out earlier are Catkins – these are Hazel Catkins I think.

As I set off down Low Fen Drove Way I stopped at the A14 bridge to take stock of the puddles. You can pick up a reasonable turn of speed off the bridge, but you want to avoid the deep puddles as they can be quite deep.

It was muddy in places along the Drove Way, but with a bit of momentum not too difficult as long as you don’t mind the back wheel slipping around. I also bumped into some hikers just past Snout’s Corner – they were on their way to the Crown and Punchbowl in Horningsea and wanted to confirm they were heading in the right direction. Which they were, I think they might have come over from Lode and intended to pass by Quy Fen.

Although so far my pictures don’t have any people in them I did pass quite a few people out walking along with around 35 cyclists in the greater Lodes Way area. (I didn’t count the cyclists I passed in the City.)

Here is White Fen, there were some walkers having a brief rest at the picnic tables near Swaffham Bulbeck Bridge.

I cycled along the road to Upware and two cars passed by disturbingly close to my handlebars at high speed. At this point the wind was blowing across  but way from the cars rather than towards them.

I did find myself close to the edge of the road and since it has been patched there is quite a difference between the road and verge level.  I found myself so close to the edge that a small gust of wind took me off onto the verge – I carried on cycling and didn’t try to get back from the verge to the road until I had a bit of speed and could get onto the road at a reasonable angle. I have fallen off when trying to re-join this very road at an acute angle.

As I passed through Upware I noticed the the Birse Civils encampment seems to have gone although they have left the wire fencing in place.

After Upware I cycled along the back way into Wicken (part of NCN11) – the low sun makes it quite tricky to take pictures – the bright light causes internal reflections in the lens.

As I left Wicken Fen and reached the footbridge over Burwell Lode I noticed quite a load of cars parked up. There weren’t that many bird watchers visible, MikeC suggested that they might be visiting hides along Harrison’s Drove.  A quick look on the Wicken Fen website suggests rare visitors on Tubney Fen. I would imagine that there are a few such birds around the area.

As I heaved up my bike over the footbridge I scared off some bird watchers from the bridge. They hadn’t seen what they were looking for I assume. You can hear water being moved around though. I assume that some of it will find its way to the new Bund a little further along. It sounded as if the water was heading into this ditch.  As you can see the sun seems to have grown and a couple of laser shots have been fired to the bottom left of the picture.

Between the footbridge and Reach Lode bridge I passed a couple of walkers who had stopped for to take a drink of something warm from a flask (I assume) It was quite a drag cycling into what was quite a brisk wind and I was wearing shorts. I hauled myself up Reach Lode Bridge and waved to the SBC who had stopped there, but I carried on (Sorry SBC I was engrossed in a storyline and my brain didn’t register fast enough.) I did make a brief stop to take a picture of the new flaps between the bridge and the ramp, these should help cyclists horse riders and walkers, they look pretty reasonable to me.

(It would seem that the bridge to replace the footbridge has been given planning permission.)

As I headed along Split Drove three cars were heading my way, I stopped to left the first one go by but it was a bit cold standing there in my shorts. I then bumped into MikeC at the junction of Split Drove and Headlake Drove and as we chatted several more cars went by. I can only assume that there has been another interesting flying visitor to the area. I have never seen so many cars along Split Drove ever.

By now the sun was getting low in the sky which makes it easier to take pictures – this is the sun behind one of the trees along Headlake Drove.

The same picture (well very similar) but getting a silhouette effect.

Though the skies were pretty much clear there one or two interesting clouds – it took ages before I reached a Pylon free sky to get this one over Swaffham Bulbeck?

After passing through White Fen the sun lit the way.

With a little HDR this is what the end of White Fen Drove looked like.

After passing through Lode and on the shred-use path between Lode and Bottisham I stopped to take this picture of the sun almost set.

And of course the same picture but using multiple exposures to show you more of what it looks like with the naked eye.

By now I was getting a little fed up with the wind and with the sun down it was rather cold. When I got home my legs tingled with the effect of having being cold and then walking into a warm house. A warm bath was most welcome though.


  1. Swaffham Bulbeck CyclistJanuary 3, 2012 at 6:00 PM

    Hi JME and a very happy new year to you. Some great pics there - it certainly was a good day to be out despite the wind. No need for apologies at all - I know how it is when you're on a roll! I caught up with Mike C on the bridge a little after you, and we saw a couple of short eared owls from there. I'm afraid you can blame me for one of the cars that may have passed you on Split Drove as my wife and parents in law were keen to see the owls, but sadly I was unable to persuade them to do the trip by bike- hopefully next time!

  2. Thank you and a Happy New year to you. Next time I will put on some leggings and bring a longer lens with me and try and get a picture of a Short-eared Owl. Although bird photography is not my strong point - either I don't zoom and they appear as dots or I do zoom and miss them entirely.

    I can't blame them for driving over - it was getting a bit nippy as the sun went down!

  3. Tubney Fen

    That press release is an old one, I took a look from the Tubney hide before meeting you, and there were two Coot and two Mute Swans in view. That's an increase of two swans over the previous three visits in late December.

    It can be good for birds there, but spring and summer seem to be the best.

    If Monday was cold in the wind, today was worse. A quick tour of the village after the rain stopped was enough for me.

    Happy New Year to everyone using the Lodes Way.


  4. I did look for a date, but got distracted. The copyright notice that ends 2010 at the bottom should have been a clue though. Thanks Mike. I was stuck indoors most of the day, but did pop out briefly first thing to the newsagent. I barely need to pedal home.