Saturday, February 25, 2012

No excuses–a warm February Fens cycle - part 2

Thursday, 23rd February 2012: As a quick recap it after getting my hair cut over lunch and finding it incredibly warm and sunny I couldn’t resist getting out on my bike for a ride. So I bunked off for the afternoon.

The map is below and as you can see I did check out a track or two and yes they were pretty muddy. Here is the Bike Route Toaster link, the ride was 58Km/ 36 miles, flat and if you don’t like cycling through a layer of sticky mud I would give the muddy track loop a miss. I am looking forward to getting back onto the byways and bridleways again though.

There are times when I find this particular track terrible and other times when I hardly think about it. It is Newnham Drove and signed as an NCN 11-51 link route. One of the real pleasures of the Lodes Way is that although it is billed as a route from Bottisham to Wicken Fen it is much more than that. There are quite a few interconnecting tracks and roads in the area so it is easy to keep ringing the changes when cycling around.

I probably dislike this road most when cycling along it at night and it becomes much harder to avoid the ruts and bumps and mud and gravel that collects on it in various places. However on as bright afternoon with nary a soul around it really isn’t too bad. I would make sure that bolts are tight on your bike though. Lights and GPSs have a habit of making a break for freedom on this sort of road.

As I made my way along Newnham Drove there was a plane circling overhead. I think it was a Hercules in the sky. You can see four thin exhaust trails being left behind (after enhancing the contrast a bit!). It seemed to be doing large circuits around the edge of the area possible from Marshall's Airfield - presumably a test flight. There is a better picture in the link. Of course it might well have been flying from one of the nearby US airbases such as Mildenhall or Lakenheath.

At the intersection of Newnham drove and Lodes Way a view back towards Wicken Fen, well the general direction. This is one of the Ha-Has that was built to keep the humans and cattle apart. There is one each side of this section of Lodes Way. Unfortunately with the softness of the soil it was necessary to add a fence as it didn’t stop the humans cows.  Although we are being warned about drought it doesn’t seem to have stopped the ditch from filling with water.

A bund was built around part of Burwell Fen as part of the Wicken Vision plans for the are. In the process the clay was excavated from pits – the peat topsoil is quite thin in places. This was one of the pits and it does seem to be filling up.

For a change i didn’t take pictures from the Reach Lode bridge, although there were birders on the bridge and parked up on the Lode side. With the slightly improved access this place seems to be attracting more birders. Although that is just an impression, I haven’t counted them. Whilst many fields seem to be ploughed almost as soon as the crop is harvested the ploughing and preparation activity goes on through the Winter and into the Spring. This filed near the Reach lode Bridge has been recently ploughed.

Alright then, here is a picture of  Reach Lode bridge – looking back, having crossed it. The angle makes it hard to spot the birder on the bridge though.

As I headed back towards Cambridge I stopped just alongside Lord’s Ground Drove take a picture of the trees in silhouette, roll on Spring. Although I like to take pictures of bare trees I prefer to see them with leaves on. (Whilst looking on the web for some information about trees I came across this website – a walk around Cambridge looking at trees. (I’ve bookmarked it.)

A slightly different picture of the same scene, I did say I liked pictures of trees in silhouette.


As I headed back I stopped on the edge of White Fen on the Lode side – this path leads up to the wild camping shelters being built near Oily Hall.

The Lodes Way in sign. The distance between Wicken and Bottisham is 9miles according to the sign at Wicken.

Footpath, wot footpath. Occasionally you will see footprints indicating someone has tried to use this path, but it isn’t easy. Personally I would trade this footpath for a bridleway up through to Oily Hall and then back via the road.

It was glorious to be out on a warm and sunny day. I rather enjoy this cycling in the countryside lark.

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