Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A ride of two halves Wadlow Wind Farm and Quy Fen–2nd half QF

Tuesday, 5th June 2012: This is a post of two halves 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.

The first half was a visit to the Wadlow Wind Farm where the main item for note was I actually managed to take a picture of  a wild fox – mainly because it stopped to pose for me rather than because of my wild-animal stalking abilities.

The second half is a visit to Quy Fen, where there are various new signposts which suggest new routes for cyclists and horse riders and I managed to get a sound recording of a Cuckoo – well it is a video, but I didn’t actually see the cuckoo, but you can hear it along with my breathing in the background – sorry.

Whilst looking up the various websites that relate to the area I found this one – Quy Fen Apiaries these bee swarm collectors are a bit like buses none for ages and then three (or more come along). If you follow the last link they have pictures of some collected swarms. It is of course the time of year for swarms which also means more news items – including "’Prime suspect’ in bee colony deaths is found …”. Research at Sheffield University indicates that a virus carrying mite ‘turbo-charges’ the spread of a deadly virus. Mind you other research has implicated some of the chemicals use in modern farming which make bees lose their way.  Of course both can be causes and the bees really are under siege.

As I get older I find myself watching more wild-life programs and being more interested in the balance between man and nature. It probably stems from growing up in the countryside and going to a small rural Primary School with a total of 60 kids aged from 4-11. We used to be taught the names of the local wild flowers – and there were loads in Somerset where I grew up. We also used to go for nature walks and kept things like tadpoles in tanks in the classroom.

Having passed through the early stages of adulthood, when life was more about career and mortgages and then bringing up the kids, I guess I have mellowed and take a somewhat different attitude to life. Paradoxically when I was younger there was never enough time and I seemed to dash around juggling calls on that time. As I have gotten older, time is more precious but you become freer in the choice of how to spend that time. Nowadays I certainly make different choices about transport. I would rather gain by taking longer to get somewhere on my bicycle than waste time by driving in congested traffic for instance.

As I get older I also wonder where we are heading as a society in terms of our love-hate affair with the car. No doubt about it cars make things possible that weren’t possible before. Indeed the various revolutions in transport all had significant social effects. what’s next?  The pressure to build more roads and houses is significant, is that what we want – creeping urbanisation?   The green belt policy is under pressure and whilst we often look to the US for our lead we forget that they have a much lower level of  population density (US-32/Km2, UK-255/Km2 ) which means there can be much larger gaps between Urban centres – a luxury we don’t have in the UK.

Interestingly in South Cambridgeshire it seems that land can be found for thousands of new homes when the hunt for caravan pitches (for travellers) has proved futile.  One of the challenges of a democracy is when you are a minority you can end up with disproportionately less. 

Whilst I am thinking about it Rory McGrath is presenting a TV program on how the Fens were tamed tonight (probably only shown locally)

We also have to consider our consumption of both stuff and energy when I was younger Nuclear energy was the great hope with Fusion power  the “great white hope”. The first link indicates that patents based upon the concept of fusion power were first filed in 1946 – 66 years ago.

Which leads me to Wind power – the proliferation over the last few years in Scotland has been remarkable and of course we now have wind power on our doorstep over at Wadlow Wind Farm.  Good or bad well at this point in time I am not sure. Setting aside the fact that wind energy is not free or that it is highly variable the issue in my mind is the impact on the countryside. Whilst there is pressure for more houses and roads we tend not to consider the need for more genuinely wild countryside. The countryside is also under pressure from the need to grow food.

So it was interesting to read that the Bishop of Exeter has backed away from plans to build a six wind turbines (in groups of two) in his diocese.  Whilst such things are seen as important for sustainability they would have also generated up to £50,000 a year for the diocese. I wonder if there was ever the same heated debate when it came to building churches. Nowadays we consider them part of our heritage – but there was a time when they were seen as modern man-made structures. They also had bells, which even now can lead to complaints from people living close to them. Many would think the complaint ridiculous, why live close to a church if you don’t like bells. In my mind these are all examples of creeping urbanisation. As the country in which we live becomes more populated then it is not surprising that we will have to modify the way in which we live and co-exist.

Now as a cyclist the animal that concerns me most is the dog. I have only been bitten three times in my life by a dog and two of those were when I was on a bike (the other was delivering papers as a boy). My brother was once attacked by a dog whilst walking down the street and had to go to hospital – although it wasn’t serious.  As the pressure space grows then so do the consequences of dog ownership. As a boy I can’t recall there being dog “waste” bins but nowadays it is viewed as a serious problem in Cambridge – the poo, not the bins.

The trouble is that dogs need space in which to exercise (amongst other things), they need to be trained to and when appropriate be kept on a lead.  Highway code rule 56

Dogs. Do not let a dog out on the road on its own. Keep it on a short lead when walking on the pavement, road or path shared with cyclists or horse riders.

Pretty clear – although when cycling along the Lodes Way I passed a chap with two large German Shepherds, not on leads.  There are also too many reports in the press of children being attacked by dogs – “Girls and boy left with serious injuries after TWO separate dog maulings”. I am not saying that people shouldn’t have dogs – they provide companionship and security. My Mother and sister are both keen on dogs. However there is a cause and effect that needs to be considered.

The article that started this train of thought was: “Pet cats ‘are ruining the environment’ and should be given curfews, BBC star warns”. Apparently “over 200 million animals are killed each year by domestic cats” a figure that could be reduced by 50% by keeping them in at night. The article also discusses that damage done in Australia by the introduction of species such as foxes, rabbits and rats and cats. A very real reminder that what might seem inconsequential actions at the time can have a huge and significant impact.

The trouble is that there will still be selfish people who don’t give a toss – like the fly-tippers who left his behind on Low Fen Drive Way, just after the A14 bridge.

Fly-tipping on Low Fen Drove Way, just after the A14 bridge

And here is the map of the ride, not a logical route – but you don’t have to be logical when cycling around you know.

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

After cycling through Horningsea and joining the bridleway to Lode I came across the new signs. The wooden posts and boards have been up for some time – they now have signs as well. Normally I turn down towards Quy 2 miles. However what caught my attention was the sign pointing to the left. Slightly confusing in that it indicates that there is a route through to various places and that walkers and horse riders and cyclists are all able to use the path. Although if you look more closely the third line down actually say F/Path to Lode 21/2 Mile.

The Off-road route from Horningsea to Lode – new sign posts

The OSM map shows this as a bridleway to the left (brown long dashes), bridleway to the bottom (green short sashes) and a footpath to the right (brown short dashes). The Cambridgeshire County Rights of Way map (sorry you’ll have to find it yourself) also shows it as bridleway left and down and footpath to the right. whereas the sign post shows bridleways in all three directions? So Does this mean there has been a change in the rights of way?

View Larger Map


And this is what is marked on the OS and CCC ROW map as a footpath, albeit a track and appears on the sign above as a bridleway.

Footpath or Bridleway to Quy Fen

I assumed that some change has taken place and so wondered whether the signs further along (if there were any) would shine a light on matters. Well I reached Quy Fen, where there were no new posts. There was a new gate though which I was able to get my bike through, but would have been tricky for a horse.

This is one of the water-filled pits that was left behind after the coprolite (dinosaur dung) excavations were finished. The place is an SSSI and in all is around 70-odd acres. The area is the remains of common land. Apparently two people have died swimming here and over the other side there is a small memorial stone to Trevor Ison who was struck by lightening in 1873. The last link has a facility to have the passage read aloud – but it is computer generated and so does not pronounce Quy right for a start.  (It is Kwy not Kwee).

An Old Coprolite Pit – Quy Fen

As evidenced by the signs around the fen, this area seems to have been used by nude sun-bathers. I did once cycle through and say good afternoon to a chap who seemed to be carrying his trousers – being British I ignored his little foible though.  Which reminds me of a quarry that was used for swimming and sunbathing in the Somerset area – I practically tripped over a comely young lady getting an all over sun-tan once – she was slightly hidden in the long grass. She seemed less fussed than I was, the friends I was going swimming with wanted me to show them where exactly she was.  This one looks a bit weedy for swimming.

Hopefully there won’t be any toxic algae unlike the Counter drain on the Ouse Washes..

An Old Coprolite Pit (from the other)  – Quy Fen

I had stopped to have a drink and heard a cuckoo – which I have recorded on this video. I didn’t see where the bird was though. There were some planes flying nearby at the time and it also seems to have picked up my breathing – sorry.

After passing through the area – I reached a short section of byway on the other side and another of the new gates. We have had so much rain everything looks incredibly green. Checking on the CCC ROW map the short track appears as a footpath and not a byway, yet on the OS map Streetmap) it is shown as a byway and on the OS map (WTP) it is a bridleway. (Now the internet version of the CCC map is not actually a legal document – my money is on it being a bridleway though.)

Views across the field – Quy Fen

And here is the new swinging gate – where my bike fits and the Quy fen sign. An open space, visitors are welcome, keep all dogs under control and NUDISM CAN CAUSE OFFENCE TO SOME PEOPLE AND IS PROHIBITED.  Their shouty capitals and underlining.

Quy Fen – it has a dress code or should that be an un-dress code

At the end of the stub of byway/bridleway or footpath another of the new signs – which indicates the stub is a Bridleway, but still half implies that the route beyond  is open to cyclists and horse riders – although it does mention F/Path.

Even more unusual the sign to the right indicates Public Bridleway to Fen Ditton and Horningsea both at 2.5 miles. Surely, unless there is a route I am not aware of, the distance to Fen Ditton should be further than the distance to Horningsea. You have to pass through Horningsea on the way to Fen Ditton. The footpath way is perhaps slightly shorted, but not by much and doesn’t appear on the OSM map.  Bike Route Toaster shows the distance to Fen Ditton as 3 3/4 miles.  Quite an additional distance if you are on  foot.

Whilst you might assume that people who use these tracks know there way – well actually I quite often meet walkers and cyclists who ask me to confirm the route.

New Signs along The Drove Way near Allicky Farm, Lode

I have done a web search to see if there is any information regarding these signs – but I couldn’t find anything – Council and Parish websites are not always the easiest of places to find information (IMHO), despite all this open government.

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