Saturday, February 9, 2013

Grey, Brown and Watery along Lodes Way

Saturday, 2nd February 2012:For once, after a short rant, I will not talk about my computer. After several days and an OS re-install it crashed again, same BSOD problem. The problem seems related to  No, I said I wouldn’t rant on. Last weekend I went on a rather pleasant ride. The weather wasn’t anything special, the ride was not new – it was just nice to be out and about. During the week I was planning on taking my wife out to lunch and the carrot was that we had to walk across the Fens.  The trouble is there was an artic blast blowing down and then it started sleeting – so we gave up and went home and had some warming soup instead. (The walk would have taken us to a place to eat.)

So the route took me out up to Wicken Fen and back, along  Lodes Way and back via Burwell and Lodes Way via Newnham Drove. At this time of year the skies tend to be grey and the scrubland brown. we have had a lot of rain over the last half of the year and it doesn’t look as if it is stopping anytime soon. So the ditches and drains and Lodes seem to be getting extra attention. This ditch runs alongside the Swaffham Bulbeck Lode.

Freshly Cleared Drainage Ditch – alongside Swaffham Bulbeck Lode

The Lodes way – White Fen

Commissioners’ drain – Lodes Way near Split Drove

Commissioners’ drain – Lodes Way near Split Drove

I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to work out way which each of the last two pictures was facing. Only another 3.5 miles to go!

The Lodes Way – on the way to Burwell and Wicken Fen

A while back the NT dug  a bund around Burwell Fen to help contain a greater level of water – well it is working. The area is looking a lot wetter.

Burwell Fen – filling with water

This is the Lodes Way path between Reach Lode and Burwell Lode – to the left is the area planned to be wetter – it is.. 

Burwell Fen – filling with water

The electrically operated bridge owned by the Environment Agency seems to have had its refurbishment. Well the bridge structure is back in place anyway.  Notice how the new linear car park that was put in to replace the footpath to the left of the Lode is now getting some use.

Burwell Lode – Electrically Operated Bridge

I must have liked the picture so much that I took it again.

Burwell Lode – Electrically Operated Bridge

As I mentioned it was grey and brown today.

Burwell Lode – looking up towards Upware

My trusty steed Maisie having a rest whilst I took pictures. As you can see I am cycling lighter these days and carry two tyre sealant/inflator aerosols with me nowadays.

Maisie on the Footbridge over Burwell Lode

Talking about trusty steeds here are two – with their riders admiring the wetlands of Wicken Fen. Although it is Baker’s Fen in view. You can also see the Wind Turbines of  Wadlow Wind Farm in the back ground. I think they are about to head down Moore’s Drove.

Two More trusty Steeds

This is the Lodes Way as it passes alongside Monk’s Lode. The path is a little narrow for shared-use – although you only really notice it on warm weekends – then I avoid cycling along it.

Lodes Way – Monk’s Lode

Baker’s Fen

This is another view of Burwell Fen – filling up nicely alongside Reach Lode.

Burwell Fen, Lodes Way

This is a footpath along the bank of Reach Lode – so no they shouldn’t be using motorcycles and a go-kart on it.

Motorcycles along Reach Lode


  1. A fine post, the fens all look so wonderfully different to my own cycles. That said, the 'Lodes Way' sign suggests you also have armed vandals using signs for target practice! I guess some things are universal.

    1. There are times when I envy you your countryside and there are times when I don't. It depends upon the wind and my level of fitness, which isn't so good at the moment :-)

      I noticed the sign, I meant to have a closer look on my way back, but forgot. Normally the damage is done by shotguns, but you would expect more dents.

  2. drains and signs

    Hi Jamie,

    that "drainage ditch" alongside Swaffham Bulbeck Lode is shown on modern maps as the boundary of the parishes of Bottisham and Swaffham Bulbeck. This is a sign that the ditch is a lot older than the current line of the lode, and in this case the ditch is indeed the old line of the lode, and is shown as Old Lode on the Enclosure Act map of 1800. The current line of the lode was cut soon after 1664 (from RCHM). There's some interesting history in the Victoria History of Britain.

    Several of the Lodes Way signs have suffered damage, however all I've noticed look as if they've been hit by agricultural machinery. Most notable was the one at the south end of White Fen Drove



    1. Hi Mike,

      That link is interesting - it shows the old road around Swaffham Bulbeck. Some interesting details about the pubs - it always amazes me how many pubs there use to be. Although I suppose as getting around was difficult it favoured lots of "locals"