Friday, March 30, 2012

Shorts and Sandals Cycling Weather

Saturday, 24th March 2012: It was another gorgeous day, with the temperature reaching over 19C and pretty much blue skies and sun all day. So I set off with a couple of cans of coke, jelly babies, sandals, shorts and a t-shirt. This is the sort of cycling I like. Meandering around, with no real aim.

As it has been dry the byways and bridleways have become pretty solid already and I ended up cycling along a few of them as I looped around to Exning and back along the Lodes Way. There is a small bit of climbing on the run it reaches around 50m above sea level, which might not sound a lot, but round these parts is almost a mountain. You do the climb along a track which makes it slightly harder work – but nothing you would really complain about. Here is the Bike route Toaster Link  to the map below – it is 53Km/33 miles and mainly track and cycle way with a few roads, the worst being a short run ip the A1303.

After heading out along NCN51 there is pretty much cycleway up to Fulbourn, I went via Teversham. I was reading David Hembrow’s latest post (A study tour report)  and the phrase that resonated with me was “… because how pleasant the conditions are for cycling certainly affects how much people will cycle”. Which is probably the main criteria for how I decide the where, when and how of most of my cycling.

Let’s face it, if you have the choice of cycling along a quiet lane or along a noisy road  then assuming the time difference of the two routes is not too dissimilar then I know which I would take. I keep meaning to take my iPad along with me to measure some of the noise levels alongside some of the Cambridge roads – I am not sure whether many motorists, or people in general realise just how noisy some roads have become.  Try walking along Airport Way to Cherry Hinton during the “rush hours” to see what I mean. Frankly it is small wonder cyclists listen to music (or radio or podcasts) along that route – it helps to cut the unpleasant noise.

It is a noise that I feel has become more unpleasant and uncomfortable over the years, which I think is a blight for people who live close to such roads.  There is concern about the  noise made by Wind Farms.  Well try visiting Bar Hill and standing close to the A14 when motor vehicles are driving by. Why do we think it acceptable to create such noise pollution?

The cycle way along Fulbourn Road/Teversham Road into is really a pavement that has been deemed shared-use. As you can see here – I used it. Mainly because there were no pedestrians around. If there had been then I would have cycled along the road. I can’t remember seeing more than a handful of cars. The cycleway ends just as you reach a level crossing. (The Cambridge to Ipswich Line).

I normally cycle past Telford House and up Cow Lane and past The Horse Pond. The notice board does say that there was “a duty to maintain for ever,  a pool or pond twenty yards by ten yards” and to keep it “continually furnished”. I think someone must have forgotten that duty. I did find a document about the village – “A Very Special Village”. But it appears to have been scanned in and was not searchable.

Here is what I thought was the Horse Pond, but is actually on the wrong side of the sign. So I must have a close look next time. It is on Google maps as an actual pond.

It also wasn’t until I got home that I realised that I’d focused on the braches in front rather than the depression behind.

As I was heading out of Fulbourn there was a host – well a linear host of golden daffodils as far as the eye could see – well the bend anyway.

Another sign of Spring – Pussy willow.

A slightly more focused, less blurry Pussy Willow.

I took a slight detour through Great Wilbraham – I reckon that Horse Chestnut trees tend to be the first deciduous trees in leaf in the Spring – well maybe apart from Weeping Willows. Of the Horse Chestnuts I reckon that this one is one of the first in the area. It is certainly more advanced than any I can think of. Remember this was March 24th 2012. Last year it seemed to have been in leaf by the 16th March – second picture down..

After the slight Wilbraham detour I headed for Butt Lane, which leads to a bridleway, that after a short while heads North-East, crosses the road between Little Wilbraham and Six Mile Bottom. I did have a quick look to see if I could find the road number, but didn’t. I did find this website that shows various maps. The bridleway is shown as Street Way on the old maps. In this link it suggests that Street Way may have been a variant route of the Icknield Way.

Just after crossing the road I stopped to take this picture of the freshly drilled, large and flat field. I assume it was recently drilled, mind you there aren’t any birds around, snacking.

This is what Street Way looks like now – this is what I think of as a green road – it has a reasonable width, is flat and not overgrown.

To the left of the Street Way some electricity pylons marching off to Burwell. They’ve “come from” an Electricity Sub station neat Stocking Pelham/Crabbs Green.

The construction of the A11 has caused the Street Way to take a detour along a bridleway at right angles before re-joining the Street Way Route. I stopped by the A11 bridleway bridge for a snack and a drink. Only to find I’d left my cans of coke behind – it is a good thing that Jelly Babies aren’t dry. This line of trees shields Coventry Farm. The OS map shows two lines of trees rather than the one line on the OSM Cycle map.

The view form the bridge looking further along the bridleway. To return to the Street Way you turn left just after the bridge. If you follow the track it crosses the A1304 and takes you to Wesley Bottom. the bit you can see is riddles with rabbit warrens so take care when cycling or walking along it.

This is back on the route of the Street Way. There is an uphill slope. It had a hedgerow on both sides but the right hand side has recently been cut down. The track is not the easiest to cycle along, although it is shown as a byway on the map it feels more like a bridleway. There are quite a few hoof prints.

At the top – which is the highest this ride gets the track widens out, or at least the field does. This is the view looking back the way I’d ridden. Unusually for a byway a gate has been installed. On the Cambridgeshire County Council right of way map it is marked as Byway 223/11 in the Parish of Swaffham Bulbeck. On that map it is shown as ending just before the road – which is rather peculiar. Although perhaps it has a little bit of road?

There is also a path shown just when the A14 and A11 combine which looks as if it has just been removed where the two roads combine without any attempt to maintain the right of way. I guess the road was built when they gave even less of a toss about walkers’ and cyclists’ rights of way. (That path is a footpath with the designation 223/8.) It is not picked up on the OSM map, I guess the powers that be (and the landowners) hope it gets quietly forgotten. I will see if I can spot ay gaps in the barriers on the roA11/A14 where it might have crossed.

After that  I cycled along the byway/bridleway running along the left0hand side of the A14. It is pretty tricky to route on Bike Route Toaster, so I normally route that bit by hand. My guess is that spuds are being planted here.  The wooden crates are labelled CFG – Continental Farmer’s Group? (As the supplier of seed potatoes, they might not be spuds, but the trenches look like spuds are being planted.)

After cycling through Exning it was back onto the byways of first Haycroft lane and then Howlem Balk.

This is a field alongside Howlem Balk – near Burwell. Depending on how you look at it the track depressions look as if they are sticking up.

I then cycled through Burwell and up Newnham drove to join the Lodes Way. Which passes the Burwell Electricity Sub Station mentioned earlier. It won’t bee too long before the trees are all in leaf, I hope. This one is on the bank of Reach Lode.

Some interesting field preparation – just after the Reach Lode bridge along Split drove. You can see the bridge to the left of the picture as well as the pylons all heading into Burwell.

As I was taking pictures two cyclists sped by – as you can see dressed for the very pleasant weather.

I took a few pictures as they sped by and rather liked the way the rushes looked alongside the road (Split Drove).

So I took one just of the rushes along the drainage ditch.

After that I headed to Lode and took the old railway line route back. In the Summer the paths tend to be much more reliable.

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