Sunday, July 1, 2012

Another week’s gone by–a look at Wadlow Wind Farm again–Pt 1

Sunday, 24th June 2012: It seems that the Wadlow Wind Farm is being built at the rate of two turbines a week. As more go up is does seem to become more visually dominating, which is a bit of stating the flippin’ obvious I suppose. There are some good off-roads bits out that way though including Worsted Street (aka Worstead Street) and also known as the Roman Road between Cambridge and Balsham. It alone makes the ride worthwhile as it is generally not very busy and some interesting (only slightly challenging) bits of track and it undulates. It is also dryer than many of the byways and bridleways around these parts as well. even though we have had more rain than usual although not as much as some..

This time around I went out along the Roman Road and then took a slight short-cut across to Balsham and then along a byway towards the Wind Farm. I returned by the Wilbrahams and NCN51. Here is the Bike Route Toaster link to the map shown below the picture of the helicopter. The route was just under 45Km/28 miles and unusually has a small hill of 70m followed by a “plateau” at 100m. Although it would probably take a flatlander to classify them as such.

we seems to have quite a few planes in the skies at the moment, it seems to be the time for airshows which means that you do see some interesting planes travelling from show to show in the skies. So I do try to get pictures where I can of flying objects.

This, is not a plane of course, but was flying and has the identification – G-DLDL and is a Robinson R22 Beta helicopter. It was manufactured in 1991 apparently (assuming the id has not/can not be transferred. Here is a recent picture of it on the ground – and slightly older pictures – but with a different colour scheme. (So it may or may not be the same.)

Robinson R22 Beta Helicopter flying into Cambridge Airport

I cycled through Cherry Hinton and avoided Lime Kiln Road because it is a rather narrow road and so unpleasant when cars whizz up or down it, it is also a hill. (You see quite a few smashed door mirrors by the wayside as well.) Cycling through Cherry Hinton there is an inordinate amount of “traffic calming” which causes the traffic to jink about quite a lot. There is a raised table in the middle with parking alongside the cycle lanes.

What sort of idiot person would design a traffic system such that the cycle lane was the door zone? Oh yes a road planner.

What does the  Highway code say about cycle lanes (rule 63):

Cycle Lanes. These are marked by a white line (which may be broken) along the carriageway (see Rule 140). Keep within the lane when practicable. When leaving a cycle lane check before pulling out that it is safe to do so and signal your intention clearly to other road users. Use of cycle lanes is not compulsory and will depend on your experience and skills, but they can make your journey safer. 

What advice does the aforementioned Highway code have for cyclists and vehicle doors in Rule 67, you should

look well ahead for obstructions in the road, such as drains, pot-holes and parked vehicles so that you do not have to swerve suddenly to avoid them. Leave plenty of room when passing parked vehicles and watch out for doors being opened or pedestrians stepping into your path

Does anyone notice a slight inconsistency here. As I cycled along the High Street I had a car behind me who had to zoom past, looking annoyed, because I wasn’t in the cycle lane. It was a good job though because a chap just opened his car door and hopped out without looking. In the hierarchy of road safety – in my book being uninjured comes higher up my list of priorities than being in the right.

A Ride around Wadlow Wind Farm

After cycling up Wort’s Causeway I turned down to the Roman Road – after a short while you end up cycling through a tunnel of trees and downhill – what is there not to like.

Worsted Street – the Cambridge End

The great thing about the Roman Road is that it constantly varies as you cycle along it. The surface, the vegetation and the height. This is the view a little bit further along – lush green fields, blue skies and white puffy clouds.

Gently undulating countryside seen from the Roman Road (Cambridge)

After a short while you have to cross the A11 at Worsted Lodge fortunately there is a single lane bridge over the A11. There are houses either side and a small lane – but I have never actually met a car on the bridge. This is the view from the bridge – no prizes for guessing what you can see -  the Wadlow Wind Farm.

Wadlow Wind Farm seen from Worsted Lodge

As I mentioned the route seems to constantly vary after Worsted Lodge the “road” give lie to the idea that all Romans Roads are straight. It is reasonable wide – but the actual navigable bit can get quite narrow. It also undulates up at this point. Worsted Lodge is at 40m above sea level and the road gets up to around 90m.

The clouds look as if they are laying on a linear shower to keep me cool as I cycle up the hill.

The Roman Road (Cambridge to Balsham) just after Worsted Lodge

Another of the attractions along the Roman Road is the flora and fauna.

Tufted Vetch (Vicia cracca) on the Roman Road between Cambridge and Balsham

And this is the view after climbing the hill in the last picture but one. Cambridge is down there somewhere. You can also see how the path has widened a little here.

The Roman Road (Cambridge to Balsham) looking towards Cambridge

I hadn’t quite reached the top of this bit of the hill – but I was nearly there.

The Roman Road (Cambridge to Balsham)

One of the reasons it take me a white to write a Post is because when looking up things I get side-tracked reading stuff that pops up on the web.  These flowers took me longer to identify than I though. However I think they are Hedgerow Cranesbill (Geranium pyrenaicum). At the time I came across this website – The Naturephile. It had pictures of the flower in question and I got caught up reading  it. What’s more it was created by someone who is based in Histon so it has local interest for me as well.  (There is a good post on Hemlock seen around these parts.)

Hedgerow Cranesbill (Geranium pyrenaicum) on the Roman Road

A bit further along and the old Linton Water Tower came into view on the right-hand side. It stands on Rivey Hill (112m above sea level) and looks down over Linton.

Linton Old Water Tower

I cycled along the Hildersham Road to Balsham to avoid the wet, rutted track between the Roman road and Balsham and also to avoid the busier B1052. The Wadlow Windfarm hove into view pretty soon. You can see seven of the turbines to the left and to the right of the picture a house – which is the edge of Balsham. It is not so easy to see without zooming in on the picture – but is just behind the red bit of farm machinery.

Wadlow Wind Farm – not much more than a stone’s throw from Balsham

After that I went down Fox Road which quickly turns into a rutted byway, with some big puddles at the moment. Now more of the turbines are in position it is easier to see how they have been laid out in lines. Well a line of four anyway.

Wadlow Wind Farm – seen from a nearby byway, leading from Fox Road

This bit of byway looks quite well used, the ruts are deep enough that I have to be careful that my pedals don’t jam on them and tip me off. I generally go down the middle with is presumably where people walk.

The grain store in the distance is Grange Farm (not from The Archers).

Grange Farm, near Balsham, seen from the Fox Road byway

As you move around the Wind Farm the placement of the turbines becomes less easy to work out.

Wadlow Wind Farm

At the lower point on this bit of byway the water collects. It was here that I nearly had a rapid and unplanned bicycle dismount. I was in the middle rut and although breaking more with my rear brake than the front brake the front wheel started slipping sideways. I had visions of slipping sideways into one of the deeper puddles, but somehow and definitely more luck than judgement, I let the momentum carry me forward and managed not to lose the front wheel.

If you look closely you can see raindrops forming circles in the puddles.

The reason I have been not posting is I had some meetings up North – my camera went with me though.

The guided busway has been in the news, in fact it seems to have a role as a reference point with a digger flipping over in a crash with a bus near the guided busway entrance, a woman injured in a crash near the guided busway and a swan killed flying into the path of a guided bus. I wonder what it was like when the busway was an active railway running through the Fen Drayton Lakes. (Although the reserve is relatively new).

There have also been bike thefts on the Busway and an arrest of a suspected busway bike thief.

I will finish with my new bicycle – although I am not sure I will be fit enough – a human-powered helicopter (using pedals and hand cranks). It has managed 50 seconds in the air. Not quite long enough or high enough for some aerial photography.

Talking of photography – here is a burning meteor trail in the Australian sky, the Firth of the Forth Rail Bridge  with night-shining clouds  and some of David Baileys East End photographs.

There is also the claim to be the World’s smallest art gallery – in a phone box. However regular readers will know this has already been done – over at Prickwillow.

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