Sunday, May 20, 2012

A short loop to Swaffham Bulbeck

Sunday, 13th May 2012: The weather is so changeable at the moment that, even when you don’t have time, you have to take advantage of it. I got up early to do a few things. It was also the day of the Spanish grand Prix and the BBC were showing it live, so I wouldn’t have to go around trying to avoid hearing any news all day.  I can’t say I am happy with the way the BBC have reneged on their “promise” to fans of F1. Especially when I look at what the papers say they spend on programs like the Voice – what is that all about? Surely good television is about creating genuinely new stuff not just re-hashing the other sides stuff and competing head-on in the ratings.

Still at least this one was being shown live. I really prefer the races in the Far East as they are shown early in the morning because of time differences. That way I get to watch a race and have a full day to do other stuff. This races was starting at 1pm which gets in the way of things a bit. Which is why I was up early.

But we come back to that problem – nice weather. Anyway I slung my bag over my shoulder in order to pop to the newsagents to buy the Sunday papers – another indulgence. Although we often find that the various extra bits don’t get read until some time during the week. for some reason I also slung my camera over my shoulder as well – funny that. Although I was just wearing light clothing – no cycling gear whatsoever. Mind you I do tend to wear shorts most of the time, unless I have meetings.

It was lovely and as I was a little cold I had to cycle a little faster and somehow must have missed the newspaper shop ah well I would have to take the long way round. Now I really did have things to do so I couldn’t disappear completely so I let my legs take me out along the NCN51 through Bottisham and onto Swaffham Bulbeck before I managed to turn Maisie (my bike) around.

My first stop was just before Stone Bridge (over Mill Stream?) on the outskirts of Swaffham Bulbeck where I took this picture looking up through the gap between Bush meadow Wood and Howe Plantation.

Looking towards Chalk Farm, near Bottisham on the NCN51 near Swaffham Bulbeck

The shared-use path between Bottisham and Swaffham Bulbeck is pretty narrow I think of it more as a tidal shared-use path. The tide flows towards Bottisham and the Village College in the morning and towards Swaffham Bulbeck in the afternoon.

There are  shared-used paths into and out of Bottisham, but they are narrow and not that well marked on the ground. Having checked the County cycle map for Bottisham and Quy (pdf) it seems to disagree with the markings along Bell Road. The CCC map shows the shared-used paths from Cambridge ending alongside Howlett Way and re-starting opposite Tunbridge Close.

Using Google Streetview there shared-use path “on the ground” goes further than the CCC map and ends just before the pub car park at the end of Bell Road. (You can also see the shadow from the Google camera car’s camera.)

View Larger Map

This is my route, at least I managed a bit of a loop and here is the Bike Route Toaster Link. It is not far, although I was not really supposed to be going anywhere really. (25Km).

Map of my route looping through Swaffham Bulbeck and back to Cambridge

As you can see I took three pictures from the spot – someone else had the same idea of going out for an early morning spin – although he looks equipped for more speed than I was.

A cyclist on NCN51 near Swaffham Bulbeck

As you can see the weather was glorious – blue skies, judging from the speed cars whizzed past me the level of literacy must be pretty poor in these parts.

I did hear a Woodpecker in the nearby wood though.

It would also seem that they have had to use a smaller “W on the left hand side of the road (from out view point) to fit in the paintwork.

“SLOW” signs on the road between Bottisham and Swaffham Bulbeck (NCN51)
cheap – and ineffectual?

Here is Stone Bridge and the path to the right is the shared-use path. As you can see there is not much room for passing.  The path gets even thinner when you reach the bridge. Cyclists get a wooden bridge to walk over. I wonder who pays attention to those advisory signs “CYCLISTS DISMOUNT”.. What would motorists think if there was a sign on the Stone Bridge saying motorists “Get out and push”. The odd thing is that the path is at its widest over the wooden bridge – perhaps they think that cyclists might suffer some sort of agoraphobia triggered by having so much path width.

Or perhaps the wooden bridge is weak or slippery – but shouldn’t pedestrians also be warned.  At least being so wide it can more easily accommodate a cyclist pushing his or her bike. There wouldn’t be enough space to walk alongside you bike on the lead in to the bridge. welcome to the wacky world of cycling infrastructure. “Trust us we don’t know what we are doing.”

View Larger Map

After the excitement of the bridge I cycled through Swaffham Bulbeck and turned down along Station Road. Although even when the Cambridge to Mildenhall Railway line was running calling it Station Road was wishful thinking as the station was up the  end of the next village…

This appears as "Recn Gd” on the map – although it is a cricket pitch in the Summer months. There is the Black Horse pub just out of shot to the right, should the intrepid cyclist wish to refuel. I am not sure my wife would be impressed if I started drinking beer for breakfast though. The last time I took this picture the two trees in the middle had not really come into leaf.

Trees Across the Swaffham Bulbeck Recreation Ground

I rather like information boards as I can take pictures of them and then study them at my leisure when I get home. Which I have now done and learnt that Denny Moat was a stand-alone moat and that the High Street cut through the middle of the “Recn Gd” but was diverted through the current dog-legs to enlarge the ground of the Manor at Lordship Farm.

Denny Moat information board, Swaffham Bulbeck

My route out of the village used a shared-use path alongside the B1102. during the week this can be a noisy and unpleasant route. You pass over another bridge – Gutter Bridge over Gutter Bridge Ditch before a sweeping bend when the road then straightens and inevitably motor vehicles speed up.

There is a way of avoiding some part of the road by heading down Longmeadow and then using a footpath towards Lode. It is perhaps as wide as the shared-use path between Swaffham Bulbeck and Bottisham and tarmacked, but it is a footpath.  Early on a Sunday morning the only people I passed were three separate cyclists heading in the other direction. This is the path – it looks longer than it really was.  The footpath runs parallel the the B1102 but is about 0.5Km away. The footpath is around 1Km in length.

It is a great pity that some of these routes are not more directly joined up to provide an alternative for cyclists wishing to commute reasonable distances into Cambridge along direct routes but without the noise and hassle of motor traffic. Even if I had a portable force field around me I would still try to avoid roads (unless it also insulated the noise and smell.)

Footpath between Longmeadow and Lode

I did buy the papers before getting home and my absence wasn’t noted Winking smile.I enjoyed my breakfast as well. (I also enjoyed the Grand Prix.)

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