Saturday, July 21, 2012

There is nothing like a Hot Scotch Egg and Chips after a Soggy Sycle

Friday, 13th July 2012: My meeting in the town centre had run on a little longer than planned, but not so long that I was going to be late. I was going home and then onto Reach, but there seemed little point in going home but I would be early for my lunchtime meeting at the Dyke’s End, Reach. So I decided to take the off-road route to Reach via Horningsea to Lode and on the way call in to Ben Hayward Cycles – currently celebrating its centenary year – pretty neat huh.

I called in to check on a rack pack which was on order and a clip for my bicycle lock. When they moved over the “bike” onto a new frame (lifelong frame guarantee) the cross bar clip had seen better days. They had one, which was good news, and didn’t charge me either – that’s the sort of service you get from your LBS (Local bike shop).

The route I took out of Cambridge was NCN51 – longer but way more pleasant than the Newmarket Road. As you can see the River Cam was pretty full. There have been warnings about the speed of flow in the River Cam.

A Brimming River Cam alongside Ditton Meadows

As mentioned I cycled out along Wadloes Footpath to Fen Ditton and then on towards Horningsea and then out along bridleways past Quy and on the old railway track to Lode. There is a shared use path for most of the route from Fen Ditton to Horningsea. Although it gets a little tricky crossing the turn onto the A14.

The first bit of the track after leaving the B1047 was fine as it has a hard surface. Well I say fine – this track is quite a popular spot for dog walking. People drive up, park their cars/vans in the layby and then walk up and down the track. I guess you can kid yourself that the dog is getting a run out into the countryside whilst the path is actually a solid gravel one and so doesn’t require special footwear.

You can go further, onto the Quy Fen area and I would hope that dog owners do. Dogs need to be able to run around. I am not sure that many actually do though. I am always a little wary when cycling past dogs not on  lead. Being chased by a dog when cycling is not fun. The opportunity for both the rider and dog to get hurt in such circumstances is too high.

The question is whether to stop or carry on even faster - - with a clear run I tend to cycle faster. Quite often it is the small dogs that are the nuisances and it is not too difficult to out-pedal them.

As I cycled up the track there seemed to be a professional dog walker – she had 5-8 dogs with her – I didn’t hang around to count them. There was one big dog on a lead which she got an even tighter hold on as she hauled it closer. That dog wasn’t the issue – it was a little terrier (of some such) that yapped and raced after me. Flippin’ nuisance.

After that brief bit of unwelcome excitement I turned off along first a field and them a soggy farm track past Allicky Farm. As farm tracks go this one is kept in good order and large ruts don’t seem to develop. However it was very wet and had a thin layer of sludgy mud on the surface. For the next kilometre or so it felt as if my rear tyre was flat as the rear wheel was squidging all over the place.  I was almost convinced it had punctured it was so bad and looked down a few times. As I was cycling on “business" I had an aerosol inflator with gunge to fix any holes. I wasn’t going to stop until I got to the road though.

This is the old Mildenhall to Cambridge railway line track – I have not seen it as bad as this for ages.

Old Cambridge to Mildenhall railway Line – near Anglesey Abbey

I didn’t cycle along Harvey’s Droveway this time I sneaked along past the farm. After that I was back onto the road and the relief that my back tyre was not punctured. I cycled down towards White Fen Drove. (Don’t you just love WYZIWYG – not – LiveWriter shows this as central – the Blog shows the picture as left-justified – sorry – update – should now appear “OK”).

Poppies in the field alongside White Fen Drove


The footpath across this field has now been “cleared”, I assume by some selective weed killer. Personally I would be happy to see the nearby track allocated as a footpath and save the bother.

Footpath across a field – Alongside White Fen Drove

As I got closer to Reach along the Lodes Way I was unsure whether to cycle around via Newnham Drove and Burwell or head there more directly.  I carried on Lodes Way until Split Drove where after navigating a bunch of puddles slowly – to avoid spraying my back with mud I cycled slowly through the puddles. I ended up going quite slowly and so decided to head back and take the short-cut to Reach via Little Fen Drove.

The Lodes Way – Headlake Drove/Split Drove

AI was neither the first or the last to reach Reach where I had one of the specials – Hot Scotch Egg, chips and salad – it was delicious along with a couple of pints of their own beer.

After lunch my luck held and it was still not raining. I took the Lodes Way to Lode and Bottisham and then NCN51.  What a lot of people probably don’t realise about the countryside is that some folk think that you can dump any old trash you like from rubbish sacks to burnt-out cars to green things. IMHO – fly-tippers are tossers.

Fly-tipping on Headlake Drove

When looking at this picture just now I wandered where I had taken it. It looks to flat and smooth for Headlake Drove. It is though – the puddles are a bit further along nears the cross roads.

Split Drove (Lodes Way)

I didn’t take pictures of Wadlow Wind Farm from White Fen this time around – however the DM has a piece bemoaning the visual impact of so many wind farms. (When I was a boy I used to go up to Troon for Summer holidays – just down the coast from Saltcoats, mentioned in the DM article. I hope that they do help reduce the issues of global warming.

I have just used the Where’s the Path website, it seems to have a problem showing the OSM map at the moment. It just displays QR codes and a link to this page. It would appear that WTP is using a non-standard URL.

And finally – some DM Time-lapse photography of the skies, some more Northern Lights over Essex and finally, finally a cyclist – on his way to becoming a celebrity. he might even get to race in Cambridge – “Tour de France ‘could come to Cambridge’

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