Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Wicken Fen Wander part 2

Monday, 16th April 2012: What a difference a week makes. As I sit here it is now Saturday – and it was a cool but sunny morning. As my wife is off with some friends to see another friend play a piano duet I have an excuse to take some sarnies and set off early for a bit of cycling and despite the BBC’s disgraceful (IMHO) Formula 1 deal in which Sky show all the races live and the BBC show some I can listen to the qualifying on 5 Live on my DAB radio.

The trouble is it is April and what do we get in April – April showers. It is very welcome for the crops and the garden. Although it is slightly ironic that the showers seem to have been almost daily once the hose-pipe bans were announced. Ah well – I will just have to put on some rainproof gear I suppose – it is too good an opportunity to miss. To add insult to insult (well rain is hardly an injury) I find myself finishing this particular Post with pictures of blue skies. Ho hum.

Just to remind me of what I am missing – here we have the sun shining down on onions or leeks alongside Straight Drove – with the sun’s rays shining through the clouds and irrigation a necessity. The shed to the right in the picture is where Blinkers Hill can be found on the older maps.

Onions being Irrigated alongside Straight Drove
A byway between Upware and Reach

Here is the Bike Route Toaster map and link. For the first time in a while I cycled along Swaffham Bulbeck Lode from Cow Bridge and I also cycled along the byway – Straight Drove from Reach to Upware although in two parts. This post covers the bit after Swaffham Bulbeck Lode where I managed to cycle all of Straight Drove – although in two sections.

As you can see from the map it wasn’t a super-long ride although it wasn’t bad – I managed to get in 54Km/33.75 miles, with a reasonable bit of byway cycling.

Map of my Wicken Fen Wander

As I cycled up Straight Drove is was rather pleased that I didn’t have to dab my feet down. The track was pretty solid mud, although the ruts were deep – I managed to avoid them.  I find the balance of my new frame pretty reasonable, although I do think that the height of the bottom bracket is low as my pedals seem to be lower than I remember before the bike was hybridised.

The fields around these parts are lower than the Lodes than keep the land drained –that is the bank of Reach Lode ahead. The also require regular maintenance.  I wonder what the logic is in drilling them in rows of 5?

Seedlings growing in a field alongside Reach Lode

I have been along straight Drove fairly recently. The last time there was a dead sheep in the field, this time there was a traffic jam of a 4x4, a fork lift truck and a lorry. The lorry seemed to be loading the sheep up. Even for me on a bicycle it was a squeeze getting past on the narrow road.

I then carried on through Upware and straight over the road onto the Docking’s Lane onto NCN11 back to Wicken Fen. At the end of Docking’s Lane was a familiar sight – a somewhat dilapidated shed. You see a lot of old buildings in farming areas.

Old Shed at the end of Docking’s Lane (between Padney and Wicken)

As I made my way to Wicken there was a familiar sight. This sign offers Cyclists Sunday Teas from 3.30 to 5.30 at the local Methodist Church (on the route to Wicken Fen). Non cyclists can also get teas there of course.

Wicken Methodist Church offers Sunday Teas
Sign hanging from a tree on NCN11 between Ely and Wicken

After Wicken I followed the Lodes Way back towards Reach lode Bridge and Straight Drove where my plan was to head down the track to to Reach. An unwelcome sight, a dog “poop” bag. The whole point is to pick up after your dog craps on the path and then take it somewhere for appropriate disposal – not just to leave it. What do the owners think happens – the poop bag fairy comes through to collect it? Although Cambridge City has not fined anyone in the last five years.

Dog Poop Bag – not properly disposed of!
(On Lodes Way for cyclists, walkers and horse riders as well as dogs)

For a change I didn’t actually take any pictures from Reach lode bridge, but after crossing it and reaching the byway to Reach (Straight Drove) I did take a picture of this field which runs alongside Split Drove (which is part of Lodes Way). This field feature in a few pictures over the last few weeks – the crops are growing nicely.

New Growth in a field alongside Split drove (along Lodes Way)

And this is the second bit of Straight drove - heading down to Reach, at the moment it is a fairly solid track, rutted in places but easier that the bit to Upware I think.

Straight Drove heading to Reach

Although I didn’t take any pictures from the Reach Lode Bridge I did take this picture of the bridge – for us Flatlanders this is a steep hill. I have to get in my granny gear to go up it. The big red sign says “CAUTION LOW BOLLARD AHEAD”. Indeed there are low bollards ahead on the other side of the bridge – but I can’t help feel that they meant the low bollards immediately to the left of the sign.

Low Bollards Ahead on Reach Lode Bridge

This is Green Lane it runs around two sides of Reach –just recently they have taken to creating a walk called Earthworks Way around here. The sign also points out the way to reach Wood. I didn’t go this way though – although I was tempted.

Green Lane, a byway around the back of Reach

Instead I cycled along another byway called Barston Drove to Swaffham Prior (1.5 miles – but although the road is named the byway isn’t named on the OSM map). This seems to be a fairly popular site for fly-tipping, although not this time. This is not a bad track to cycle along when it is dry – although there are some bumpy bits.

Barston Drove a byway from Reach to Swaffham Prior

As I cycled along the Drove I wasn’t quick enough with my camera to get a better picture of this helicopter overhead. It has been all change just recently and Magpas now have a helicopter (by the end of the month (whereas Cambridge Police no longer have one).

As you can see from the map for a change I cycled thourgh Swaffham Bulbeck and down towards Lode on the busy B1102.  I did stop when I reached Swaffham Bulbeck though and sat on the village green for a drink. Looking across the green was this rather magnificent tree – yet to show any leaves.

Every time I cycle along the B1102 between Swaffham Bulbeck and Lode I am appalled at just how noisy motor vehicles are along that road. Hearing doesn’t get better as you get older, so motor vehicles must be getting louder!

It turns out that White Fen was the scene of much work on Sunday, sorting out the Mulch Mats – but I can’t have been paying much attention.

And finally – some pencil artwork, and some cycling celebrities – Naomi Watts, and Lawrence Dallaglio and Andrew Flintoff.

And really finally – some more tips for GilesLEJoG2012 (the clue is in the name) – A small guide to using natures toilet while on the road part 1 and part 2.  Good luck Giles – with the ride that is.


  1. Love it! Great stuff. Some sound advice there.

  2. His tips missed out the cyclist's rain cape - that is another trick I've seen used.