Monday, June 11, 2012

A ride of two halves Wadlow Wind Farm and Quy Fen–1st half WWF

Tuesday, 5th June 2012: Well the cricked neck which was more like some sort of muscle ache caused by the recent lurgy seems to have gone and the even better news is that I don’t seem to have developed the cold and cough that afflicted the plague carriers my kids. I must be made of sterner stuff. When I was a boy I seemed to catch every cold going and used to get coughs that lasted for ages and kept me awake all night. a cold and cough wasn’t reason to stay away from school though – at least not for my Mum. This led to me being invited to leave the class in order to get a drink of water on a number of occasions. Partly out of sympathy and partly to get me out of the class as my coughing made it hard for the teacher to talk.

So I thought I would sneak out in the afternoon for a bit of exercise. It was a bit of a spur of the moment decision so I didn’t really think about where to cycle – just to cycle. In the end I cycled up to the Wadlow Wind Farm – by a different route – it is visible from quite a distance,. Which is I suppose to be expected, a Wind Farm tucked away in a hollow somewhere wouldn’t be much use. Then I headed over to Quy Fen which judging by the Google searches on for Quy Fen and naturism or nudism that end up on a previous Post – “Quy Fen -  Nudism can cause a fence”.

I have split the post up into two parts to reflect the different locations. The map is shown in the second picture and here is the Bike Route Toaster link to the route shown on the map. Although not the most logical of routes it was actually quite pleasant as it included both hills and fens. The overall distance was 54Km/ 34 miles and although I mention hills it only reached 69m above sea level.

I took the usual route out of Cambridge – NCN51 towards Bottisham – well usual for heading East. I then cut down through towards Little Wilbraham and then headed down towards Six Mile Bottom. It is not really a road I like cycling along but generally although cars whizz along they also overtake with reasonable amounts of clearance.

The problem is that there aren’t really that many decent cycle routes out of Cambridge. There is NCN11 to the South, NCN51 to the North-West and NCN51 to the East. Although there is an NCN11 route to the North (mainly) it is a bit of a stub and awaiting resolution. There is a missing link to connect it to the NCN11 that gets to Ely (and thence to King’s Lynn).  Here is RadWagon’s recent post on that very issue. – River Cam and Green Lanes.  There are footpaths – but sorting cycling routes doesn’t seem to be that high on anybody's agenda. why does it matter – well if you want non-cyclists to reap the manifold benefits of becoming cyclists you have to make safe, secure, straight and smooth routes available. (Safe as in from traffic, secure as in not being mugged, straight – cycling is slow enough without adding extra time penalties, and finally smooth – it makes it easier.)

You turn right at Six mile bottom and then just as you think there is nowhere to go apart from the A11 dual-carriageway you turn left up a country road and a slight hill (reaching 58m from 32m at the turn) towards Weston Colville and West Wratting. The road doesn’t appear to have a name. The clump of trees to the left just on the curve is Daddy’s Bush though. The poppies add a nice splash of red colour.

The Road to Wadlow Farm

And here is the annotated map of the route (the BRT link again) – I have marked the road as Poopy Poppy Road on the map.

A cycle ride from Cambridge to Wadlow Wind Farm, Quy Fen and back

As you can see the new Wind Farm turbines will also be visible from “Poppy Road”. So far three have gone up, ten to go. According to BRT they are approximately 1.6Km/1 mile away at this point.  It is interesting that our planning law may be used to restrict the height of buildings in Cambridge and yet we are “happy” to construct towers that can bee seen for miles around.

Wadlow Wind Farm being constructed – three turbines up, 10 more to go

After the climb up the hill you descend down to Wadlow Farm and then back up a byway around the side of the Wind Farm hill. (Cambridge Hill?). The turbines appear lower than you might have expected  when viewed from the byway.

Wadlow Farm – byway to the Chalk Pit

Around the Old Cambridge Road Plantation, the triangular wood in the middle of the map – a game bird (a pheasant I think) shot out of the wood, closely followed by a red fox. Now I can be a bit slow when it comes to taking my camera out of its bag. fortunately the bird was too fast for the fox, which then stopped and turned around to see if I was going to be a substitute snack.

A Red Fox on the Wadlow Farm to Chalk Pit Byway

I had expected it bolt almost immediately – although to be fair when I was younger the only foxes I tended to see where being chased by hounds. This one was not bothered and after a brief assessment turned its attention back to the bird it had been chasing earlier. Foxes have established themselves in Cambridge ( location of Barnwell east).

A Red Fox on the Wadlow Farm to Chalk Pit Byway

There is one turbine that will be quite close to the byway, when you see the bits close-up it gives a better idea of the scale of the blades.

Wind Turbine blades – Wadlow Wind Farm

After that it was downhill all the way – well until the road to Great Wilbraham and the bridge over the A11.

Wadlow Farm to Chalk Pit Byway – looing towards the Chalk Pit

Talking of the bridge over the A11 – this is the view from there – the bits are brought in this way. (Here are some of the photomontages created by the company to show what they will look like from various places in the area.) The silos to the left are part of the new CamGrain facility. You might like this Blog about Camgrain and windfarms – perhaps farmers aren’t so hard done by after all.

Wadlow Wind Farm from a bridge over the A11 (on the road to Great Wilbraham)

After passing through Wilbraham I headed down towards Fulbourn and then Teversham. This is what the turbines look like from the road between Fulbourn and Great Wilbraham.

Wadlow Wind farm – from the Wilbraham Road (heading towards Fulbourn)

And just after I had put my camera away I had to take it out again – a number of planes (propeller) we flying in formation. My guess is that they have been out and about during the extended bank holiday for the Jubilee celebrations. Let’s hope they don’t fly too low over the turbines.

Sorry they were somewhat like dots in the sky and  so quite hard to identify, probably a WWII fighter plane of some sort?


  1. Oi!
    You said "sorting cycling routes doesn’t seem to be that high on anybody's agenda...."

    Apart from Sustrans and National Trust, our local Natural England representative, and a few others. None of whom have access to county council-level budgets or influence over planning officers unfortunately.

    I had a good view of a fox recently too, on Newnham Drove. Good to see.

    Your aircraft are definitely WWII era. To see five of the same type together means one of Supermarine Spitfire, De Havilland Chipmunk or North American Harvard. There's nothing else flyable in such numbers in this country. Of that choice these look like Spitfires to me, can you email me a higher-res picture?


    1. Hi Mike,

      Long time no see. You are quite right I should have made it clear I meant those with the budgets. The trouble is the amount spent on cycling is down in the crumbs really (on a per capita basis).

      I have been up Newnham Drove recently - I'll keep my eyes open and camera at the ready.

      I will email a picture - pre-processing.


    2. They're Spitfires. The two at the outer ends of the line are late marks with 5-bladed propellors and big radiators, the middle ones have two with 3-blade props, and one with either 2-blade, which would be very early indeed, but I didn't think there were any still flying, or 4-blade. But yes, Spitfires. Nice to see 'em.

      Going over Warren Hill on the Newmarket-Moulton road today the Wadlow towers are just visible, a bit less so than Ely Cathedral. I've been thinking about going up to look at the construction. Do you know how muddy it is it up there after the recent rain? Although I know your tolerance of getting covered in mud is much greater than mine.....


    3. That was a neat bit of detective work from what was a pretty blurry picture, thanks.

      I haven't been over Warren Hill for a while, but it is a good vantage point. I guess that the problem with Wind turbines is that they are so visible. When the Wadlow ones are operating I am going to check out what light-flicker is like and also what they sound like.

      The byway next to Wadlow Farm seems to dry pretty quickly and has been reasonable - the worst bit is where it flattens out. But there is room to skirt around the puddles.

      The byway to Balsham is worse and I avoided it the last time.