Sunday, July 1, 2012

What to do when the NCN11 runs out (at Waterbeach)

Tuesday, 26th June 2012: It always feels worse when I am writing a Post about a ride that happened in the month previous, so this will be a post of few words.

The problem with cycling is it is such a priority compared to many other things. Rather than rabbit on about it we should be putting in place a strategy to make cycling a key means of transport transport and promote it as a leisure activity.

I was pleased to note the comments of Magistrates , who after giving a drunk-driver a community service punishment were unimpressed when told that “he would struggle to do community service as a punishment because he could not rely on public transport”.  The response was “does he have a bike?”, and since he only lived 5 miles from Cambridge cycling would be no great difficulty. How true.

Sustrans have sought to enable a network of cycle routes around the country. They can be very pleasant and try to follow cycling-friendly routes – both on-road, shared-use paths and off-road. They don’t really have any powers and work with local authorities and land-owners to make the routes happen.

Examples of such routes are NCN 51 and NCN 11 both of which pass though Cambridge. NCN 11 is perhaps more of a work in progress than some others.  There has been a gap between Clayhithe and White Fen for some time, which is a great shame as I would be make a delightful and quiet route out of Cambridge up to Kings Lynn.

I cycle up alongside the River Cam (flood warnings at the moment) and then pop back towards Horningsea and across by byway and bridleway to Lode. where I take the (!1)-(51) link to NCN 11 aka The Lodes Way.

Here is the Bike Route Toaster link to the map below. The route is 54Km/34 miles and flat.

River Cam seen from the Green Dragon Bridge

And here is the map. Actually what would be really nice is a route alongside the Cam to Ely. That would make a good leisure route – and not a bad Summer commuting route either.

Map of My Ride NCN11 to nowhere

It was a still day, as you can see from the smooth river surface. Also being a Tuesday the track was not busy. It helps to have a bell on the Halingway though as the track is not that wide and is a popular place to walk.

The Halingway (aka NCN11) alongside the River Cam

After the Halingway I cycled back down from Clayhithe to Horningsea and turned off along the byway towards Quy Fen. After a few twists and turns I reached what was of Cambridge to Mildenhall Railway line and is now (well part of it) a permissive bridleway (owned by the NT). I stopped to take a picture of this industrious bee on a Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis).

Field Scabious – alongside what used to be the Cambridge to Mildenhall Line

Near the end of the track, well the cycle-able bit, is a corner of field that is a corner of “wildness” and a mass of poppies.

A collection of wild poppies

On the way into White Fen was a bit of advertising – running is not my thing, but if it is yours you have over 3 months to train for the half marathon or 3 mile fun run.

Half a marathon anyone – alongside White Fen

After passing through Upware  there is a footpath that crosses the road from Fodderfen Drove to Wicken Fen – this is what the path looks like on the Wicken Fen side – is is known as Spinney Drove.

Spinney drove to Wicken Fen

After passing through Wicken and Wicken Fen this is the view towards Priory Farm, in fact this bit of the track is Priory Drove. It was the sky, or rather the clouds in the sky that caught my attention (and why I took the picture).

Priory Drove (near Wicken Fen)

As it was a Tuesday and there were still workman around I didn't get in their way and took a route through the village.

Hythe Lane, Burwell

For a change I cycled back more or less along NCN51 and in Swaffham Prior noticed a green post box. Although it would seem to be in private use now.

A Green Post Box, Swaffham Prior

And on the way back, yet another view of the Wadlow Wind Farm, taken from somewhere near Quy. I think there are eight in view, scattered across the hillside.

Wadlow Wind Farm from NCN51 on the Newmarket Road, near Quy

As I have been doing a bit of advertising (not that I make anything from it you understand) I will just point out that the Lode Star Festival is coming up at the end of August.

Are cyclists and pedestrians second class users of the road or just generous. Road works ahead so to balance out the karma the sign used to warn those drives blocks half of the shared-use path. It is small wonder that you often see cars and vans parked on pavements – everyone does it. (Of course not everyone does it really, and neither do all cyclists jump red lights or cycle furiously on pavements.)

A blocked shared-use path (NCN 51) near the Newmarket Road P&R

I wonder if the leg of the NCN11 route that ends at Waterbeach will ever go anywhere?


  1. Hi. Great blog. Do you know if (Oct 2015) the NCN11 between Clayhithe and White Fen is now complete? Also, is the disused railway N of Anglesey Abbey across Stow-cum-Quy Fen open to cyclists: I think it is part of the route shown on your map.

    1. The bit between Clayhithe and White Fen is not complete. Apparently they cannot reach agreement with the land owners. It has been incomplete for a few years so it looks unlikely.

      Cyclists and walkers regularly use the bit between The Drove Way (nr Allicky Farm) and Lode. Part of it is owned by Anglesey Abbey and is a permissive path. The rest is just used.

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