Thursday, September 27, 2012

A ride around the Deepings: Getting there from Peterborough Station

Thursday, 6th September 2012: In part 1 (Planning a ride around the Deepings) I cycled up to Ely in order to get the train to Peterborough. I mentioned that the various routes from Cambridge to Ely have significant variations in distance. Here is the Cyclestreets routing. If you follow the link you can see that it rather neatly shows three possible routes – Fast, Balanced and Quiet. The fast route is 14¾miles, the balanced route 19¾miles and the quietest route 21¼miles. There is quite a variation – which reflects the provision for cyclists rather than Cyclestreets. As it happens I chose NCN51 to Swaffham Prior and then up to Upware. Although perhaps not as quite or as short it was a route along solid tarmac.

Cyclestreets also shows the routes along behind Anglesey Abbey and past Bait’s Bite Lock and then along a footpath alongside Bottisham Lode. There are signs actively discouraging cyclists along there so it is not a route I would recommend. Although it does also appear on the Google cycling map for the area. (or it did the last time I looked).

I was waiting from the train from Ely to Peterborough. Feeling slightly apprehensive that there might not be enough space. There were two cyclists waiting to get on and I was in second place!

The other cyclist knew what she was doing and where to wait so when the train pulled up the carriage with cycle space was adjacent. My tip for the day – if you don’t know where to wait on a platform when taking you bicycle on a train look to see what other confident cyclists do. Then try to be second in the queue. The advice on the National Rail website recommends checking with platform staff – they are not always easy to find though.

We waited for the surprisingly large number of departing passengers and then I followed the other cyclist on.  This is where we were supposed to put our bikes. despite hard stares they stayed put. That blue and white sign does say that the area is not for luggage in case cyclists or wheelchairs need to use it. The far passenger played the old trick of sleeping and the other one stared ahead fixedly.

So we two cyclists were left holding the baby bicycles and partially blocking the corridors along with other luggage that had been abandoned where it shouldn’t have been. At this point my plan had been to check the map and information. Which I had brought along just in case my GPS failed. (I did also have my phone which has a GPS facility – although it seems to take several years before getting a satellite fix). Instead I was left standing. You might also notice the other cyclists bicycle a little further down the corridor.

You might notice that this picture doesn’t have quite the resolution I normally post my pictures at – well I didn’t have the nerve to get my “proper” camera out and used the camera on my phone as I pretended to check my messages. The flash gave things away though.

Cyclists and their bicycles are invisible if you stared ahead fixedly

The journey wasn’t too bad, fortunately it was only around 35 minutes and so although I didn’t get to read about the journey it wasn’t long before I reached Peterborough. I have no idea what provision there is for people who can’t manage stairs in Peterborough. I would hope that there were some lifts. If you check out the National Rail website it does say there is a ramp bridge at the North end of the station (under Accessibility and mobility access). They also have 46 stands accommodating 132 cycles. (An average of 2.9 bicycles per stand!)

The platforms at Peterborough are not that wide though so navigating with a bicycle earns a few disgruntled looks. So I just headed for the stairs at the south end. These are quite steep so it was a good job I wasn’t fully laden. At the top of the stairs it was slightly ironic to see this advertisement for the Cycle Show at the NEC at the end of September. I stopped to take the picture, not because I was puffing honest.

Adverts at the top of the steps over the railway lines at Peterborough

One of the uncertainties when I was both planning and plotting the route on Bike Route Toaster was whereabouts was the station exit with respect to the cycle route I was planning on using – in this case NCN 12 north. I ended up using Where’s The Path and compared the OS, OSM and satellite views.

I used Bike Route Toaster to prepare the map course and here is the link to the Deepings course I had prepared. I don’t actually rely that much on plotting courses in advance but for routes such as this where there is a fair bit of wiggling about it makes the route faster as I don’t have to keep stopping to check the map.

My GPS – Garmin edge 605 has an OS level map with contour lines called Topo Great Britain v2 came on a disk and I had to prepare tiles for downloading to my GPS – in the end I put the entire Great Britain map on as there was sufficient storage. I don’t remember paying the amount in the link though. It has been fine, although it is somewhat out of date because I prepare routes using more up to date OSM mapping data it is not really an issue. (Having up to date maps is more important in cars as roads change.) I have never used the map data to produce a map – it is far to clunky.

If I were to be buying a GPS unit now I would certainly strongly consider using the OSM data to create a map for download. In case you were wondering how – the Cottenham Cyclist has published a post outlining your choices. As a recap here is a useful Post – Dummies guide to the Garmin Edge 705 (which also helps with the 605)  and for completeness the 605 manual which I had to refer to to make sure I knew what to do.

I wheeled my bike out of the station and started my Edge up and then selected the course and waited what seemed like ages as the data was processed – there is always a little trepidation – wondering whether it will actually complete the processing or not. The other cyclist on my train was also hanging around – having a cigarette! I think she was beginning to wonder if I was some weird cyclist stalker as I just hung around and then even more strangely took a picture of this car park sign. if you work 5 days a week and for 46 weeks a year that works out at £2,070 a year – phew.

Cheap car parking is only £9 a day at Peterborough
I’d hate to see the expensive car parking

Wahey, finally the course was processed and displayed and what’s more I was standing just at the start of the route I had plotted. In my excitement I almost forgot to start the ride timer – which records the speeds, timings and actual route I took.

Here is a map of the route and here, once again is the Bike Route Toaster link to the map – “The Deepings”. I chose to travel in an anti-clockwise direction and on the way out headed straight out of Peterborough to the nearest corner of the ride near Glinton. All in all around 8Km/5 miles.

As I set of the GSP beeped and showed me the way to go – normally I leave its route guidance switched off and just show the route as an overlay on the map – I couldn’t remember how and didn’t want to waste time so I just set off.

Map of my Ride: Peterborough and The Deepings

Although no sooner that I was off than I stopped to take pictures of the cycle parking. I was looking for the bike standings that took 2.9 bikes. I didn’t see those but I did see the overflow fencing parking. It looks well used, but not at the saturation levels of Cambridge Railway Station.

Cycle parking at Peterborough Railway Station

We often go on about the provision for cyclists in Cambridge – well I have to say I was pretty impressed with my route out of Peterborough. The route had separate provision for cyclists and pedestrians and was shielded from the road by trees as well.

I have cycled to Peterborough before, both through the middle and around the South-East corner, but it isn’t a place I know well. When the kids were young we would use the Nene Valley Railway as a “park and ride”  with benefits.  (We have also been on the Santa Special and Thomas! They also used to serve crisps on the train and Abbot Ale).

This reminded me of my summer hols (with the family) in Morocco. If you follow the link the 15th picture down sows a tower that was built for the Muezzin to make the call to prayer. You might wonder why that tower was so big – well it was designed so the the Muezzin could ride his horse up and down to save energy – his. Here is the link to this Mosque

Markazi Jamia Masjid Ghousia Ahl-E Sunnat Wal Jamaat (as it is called on Google)

And this is what I was saying about the cycle route (NCN12)  -  there is separation between the pedestrian area and the cycling area with markings and a slight ramp between the two areas to help in the separation.  The separation is sufficiently shallow so as not to be a hazard for errant cyclists or pedestrians.

Cycle route through Peterborough alongside Bourges Boulevard

After crossing the Soke Parkway with an interesting spiral route onto the bridge the route then follows some roads – which is where I found the route guidance from my GPS quite useful. It flagged up turns and road names and although there were also signs along the way showing the NCN12 route it took the uncertainty out of following the route at a reasonable cycling speed.  it also passed the interestingly named Voyager Academy. So is presumably a school route.

After that the route then headed along Fox Covert Road past the Ken Stimpson Community School. There seem to be loads of schools around this part of Peterborough. The route then leaves the roads for a shared-used path shown on the OSM as Foxcovert Road

Foxcovert Road – Shared use path (NCN12)

Approaching Hodgson Avenue where the route gives way there are some barriers to slow the cyclists down – it didn’t seem particularly friendly towards wide bicycles though.

Barriers on Foxcovert Road (NCN12) as it approaches Hodgson Avenue

The cycle route crosses the Peterborough to Spalding (and beyond – Lincoln) railway line. I presume that given it has now overhead power lines and that the crossing is a simple gate it can’t be a main line.  After this crossing and passing under the bridge I will have reached Glinton and the Deepings ride will begin for real.

As you can see the skies were looking good for my ride. Although the air temperature was not quite as warm as it has been – the only thing that worried me was the wind. It would be behind my on the way out and then agin me on the way back. Something I really don’t like.

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