Sunday, August 26, 2012

A ride around Oily Hall and Commissioners’ Drain

Thursday, 16th August 2012:  For me cycling is an activity that, quite simply, I really enjoy.  I don’t race and I’ve been fitter but whether it is a commute to the railway station or bouncing along a bridleway it is very satisfying,  I guess that it is the physicality and practicality  that appeals to me. It also works alongside my photography as well – which adds to the alliteration. (As well as being a three-part list.)

The strange thing is it is also a habit and if I don not keep that habit up it becomes easy to put off cycling. Which is why I work at cycling on a regular basis. It makes cycling the automatic and easy choice. Despite the cycle parking at Cambridge Railway Station being so crap it is still the best choice during the rush hour for actually getting to the station and I have managed to park my bike there or thereabouts the last bunch of times, albeit after wasting quite a lot of time, which saves me £7.70 or so in parking fees.

Cycling also gives me thinking time – which can help sort out issues or just de-stress me. I mentioned that Patch Tuesday has been and gone a couple of time with no fall-out. Well I forgot to mention the problems I had with Windows Live  Essentials 2012. It is the umbrella under which Window Live Writer and Windows Movie Maker.

I use Windows Live Writer (WLW) to write my Blog and it isn’t too bad – it is rather simplistic but it does follow the approach I started using several years ago when I first started Blogging and found a need for an offline editor. (I started using Zoundry – sadly  it is not longer supported and got harder and harder to keep working as my Computer went through the change – to Windows 7.)

Personally I would like a lot more control over the layout on the page and the insertion of images – but you get what you pay for and it is free. As you probably notice I don’t doo much with video – partly because it is hard enough dealing with photo data, the files sizes and editing challenges for video are a whole new ball-game. I have used Adobe Premiere Elements 8.0, but it is way to slow and clunky on my machine. I switched to Movie Maker and found it to be easier to use and faster (and it crashed less often than APE 8.0). 

So I was interested in the 2012 version that had even more features including reduction of image shake – which is a problem I have when taking videos. I downloaded it – fine, except it needed a re-boot and took quite a long time as you have to have everything. The disappointment was when I ran it it reported a problem. To cut a long story short my graphics card does not really support DirectX 11 (although it implies it might). So I started checking out getting a new card, which meant researching my power supply suitability along with space requirements… Eventually on a ride to somewhere I decided to revert to the old Windows Movie Maker and not bother upgrading my computer – in the fullness of time I will get another computer – but not for a while.

The trouble is, well for me anyway, cycling has to have some element of exploration to it. Not every time I cycle but sometimes. Now that exploration can range a few 100m along a bridleway I have not been on or a ride from say,  Bangkok to Saigon. So I am shortly planning a trip to Peterborough by train to extend my horizons a little. In the mean time I decided to have a ride around Oily Hall, a small step in the Wicken Fen Vision.

Instead of turning down White Fen Drove I carried along Lug Fen Droveway. Which still appears as an aspirational Sustrans route from Lode across to Waterbeach Station (and the NCN11 route to nowhere). This has been an aspirational route for some time so don’t hold your breath. Only the other day I bumped into MikeC on the Reach Lode Bridge and we started chatting to two passing cyclists who had taken the train from London and were hoping to cycle over to Lodes Way from Waterbeach station – they were totally confused – although they managed to get across somehow.

There are footpaths but there is resistance to allowing cyclists to use those footpaths by the local landowners. (We aren’t all exhibitionists fortunately.)  Here is one of those footpaths alongside Bottisham Lode. (The name of the “river” running through.)

Bottisham Lode

This is the view looking back along Bottisham Lode to Lode. (The first Lode is the water the second is the village!) The paths along the banks are not footpaths back to Lode though.

Bottisham Lode

In the first picture you might just have seen a gate – here is a close-up – it lies on the footpath that has aspirations to be a shared-use path.  It says:


Although it is not clear where you might get that written permission.

Footpath Only Sign the aspirational NCN11

So I didn’t go that way I carried on along Lug Fen Droveway to the end. The road turns right, according to the OS map. It also has the name Mill Drove (track).

The road to Oily Hall Farm – Mill Drove

The road to the left is a byway and as far as the byway is concerned a dead end. It meets a footpath alongside the River Cam. It looks as if the Loose Gravel sign has been there for a long time.

Warning – Loose Gravel in the Fens

And for completeness the way I came – a bumpy road. It is bumpier than it looks in the picture.

Lug Fen Droveway

And the view if you look straight on from the T-junction.

The view at the end of Lug Fen Droveway

As you head down Mill Drove the NT sign for Oily Hall.

Oily Hall – national Trust

This track is strictly speaking a footpath – but consists of a concrete “road”. It is a pretty good concrete road as well.  This is the view from the end looking back up.

Oily Hall Farm from the Commissioners' Drain End

This is Commissioners’ Drain – looking East. The building on the left was/is a small pump house – there are pipes around and about that were presumably used to irrigate the fields. The pipe a little way along is probably one of the irrigation pipes.

Commissioners’ Drain – near Oily Hall

Although it is not marked on the OSM map the NT have fenced off the edge of the field to separate walkers from livestock – if they so choose.  At the moment the track has been used for accessing the Wild Camping site (I reckon) and is easy going.

According to the Wicken Fen Wild Camping Leaflet bikes can get through from White Fen this way – but there is a narrow bridge to get bikes over. It is certainly narrow. This picture was taken from that narrow wooden bridge.

Commissioners’ Drain – between Oily Hall Wild Camping and White Fen

At this point I thought I would take a few more pictures of Commissioners’ Drain at various points along its run. After returning to Lodes Way (and White Fen) I cycled up the byway alongside Swaffham Bulbeck Lode – turf to the left and right – with a cover crop in the middle.

Commissioners’ Drain – after it passes under Swaffham Bulbeck Lode
via the Swaffham Tunnel

After re-joining Lodes Way I cycled up to Split Drove for another picture of Commissioners’ Drain – with Split drove to the right heading off to Reach Lode Bridge.

Commissioners’ Drain to the left, Split Drove to the right

After circling Wicken Fen and heading back the evening seemed to be drawing in.  For a change, after passing through Burwell and Reach I cycled along Black Droveway, before heading to Swaffham Prior and NCN51. The track was OK but required concentration.

Alright – not quite exploration – but still a jolly pleasant run out on the bike.

And finally a young celeb, Suri Holmes learning to ride a bike.

No comments:

Post a Comment