Monday, March 11, 2013

The Mountains near Moulton

Sunday, 3rd March 2013: As I sit here typing this Post the artic winds have returned to chill us. I got a few funny looks as I cycled down to the local paper shop this morning in my shorts.

So now the Cambridge News is back on the agenda as far as linking to some of their stories there are quite a few! Such as “Toilets may be turned into underground cycle parking”, apparently the toilets under Cambridge’s market square could be converted. I am not sure what the market traders would think about the inconvenience.

There is also a report on the Court Case dealing with the Guided Busway crash near Longstanton last November. The driver has pleaded guilty and been given 8 points and a £620 fine. The accident occurred at around 3pm and he had been on shift since 5.30am. I am not sure how I feel about this it seems to me that he might have been better claiming the sun got in his eyes and it was an accident. So fair does to the driver for admitting it, I think his punishment was a bit steep as a consequence. especially since he had been on shirt for so long. – coming up for 10 hours. That is a long time, especially since whilst on the busway they don’t do any steering, although it is a bus. (He will go down in history a the first  to be prosecuted for driving without due care and attention on the Guided Busway though.)

Now I don’t think the Cambridge News is anti-bike, but rather pro attention-grabbing headlines. I rather liked this one “’Drivers complaining about cyclists is a bit like Ray Winstone crying because a little girl is standing on his foot’”. The article refers to the mountain of comments that seem to follow any story about cycling. Whilst the story does paint an odd picture of “crazy dudes listing alarmingly from side to side” he does make the important point

“By taking up to a fifth of the city’s traffic off the roads, these crazy dudes listing alarmingly from side to side with a Sainsbury’s carrier bag on each handlebar are doing us a massive favour”

Which is what most motorists forget as they sit stewing in traffic. “Cyclists take up to a fifth of the city’s traffic off the roads”. Predictably the article is not immune from the tit-for-tat comments – although only 4 pages at the mo.

When I cycle around the countryside, well in these parts I do wonder just how will all look 25-50 years in the future. The UK needs to worry about energy sources – whether it is bio-generated, wind or solar power or coal or gas. Our demand for energy doesn’t really seem to be diminishing. Neither does our demand for more housing. As one of the economically successful areas Cambridge is set to grow - £1 billion Cambridge University development moves closer”. It will need more energy, more transport, more amenities. Making the A14 larger to transport more cars will only add to the problems as far as I can see.

One problem that we don’t talk about so much is that of waste disposal, yet it seems to me that the amount of fly-tipping has shot us this month. I saw loads on this ride, although didn’t take too many pictures as I took my long lens again. I am glad that some fly-tippers are getting caught.

We tend to think of our countryside as natural, but really it is anything but, it has been subject to our actions for many, many years. Around here there is a lot is farmland, but there are wooded areas as well. At the moment we seem to get quite a few pigeons in the garden and so do my neighbours. They seem to thrive, living alongside humans to the detriment of a more diverse bird population. Apparently a feral pigeon can eat around 64 pounds of food  in a year and the estimated British pigeon population is 18,000,000.

The latest “problem” seems to be deer.There are loads in these parts – I’ve seen then down Saffron Walden way around Wicken Fen, even on the approach to Stansted Airport.  The trouble is there are no natural predators and so the numbers just keep increasing.  The trouble is that deer can cause significant problems for woodland areas and that impacts migrant birds as well. The deer also impact the wildflowers and crops.  The Daily Mail reports that 14,000 vehicles are severely damaged each year and around 450 people injured on killed on British roads as a result of deer collisions.  I certainly see quite a lot of dead deer by the roadside.

You’ll be pleased to know that this is not another ride around Lodes Way, well not quite anyway. After a comment from the Swaffham Bulbeck Cyclist I thought it was about time I went somewhere different for a change. So I followed is pedal-steps and cycled to Moulton. Here is a link to my route, the summary indicates it was 67Km or a shade over 40 miles and lumpy in the middle as it reached the dizzy heights of 104m above sea level.  What is quite pleasant is that for every hill you cycle up there is a hill to freewheel down (or cycle). The countryside undulates which I think makes for pleasant cycling.

Roughly speaking half the route follows Sustrans National Cycle routes, but half doesn’t, specifically the bit from Swaffham Bulbeck to Moulton. Also for a change I took a different route from Exning to Burwell where I re-joined the Lodes Way.

Heading along the Swaffham Heath Road over the A14 were the early daffodils that always seem to come out here sooner than many places (including my garden). Last year they were out on the 26th of February.

Swaffham Heath Road – A14 bridge – Spring Daffodils

Here is the map of my route and here is the Bike Route Toaster link again. One thing I did find was that my front gear changer was so clogged up with mud I didn’t have quite the full range of gears I am used to. It was all still perfectly cycle-able though.

Map of My Ride – Cambridge – Moulton return

This wasn’t a planned route as such, I just headed in the Moulton direction – choosing quiet roads as I came to them. Just before Dullingham I cycled up Eagle Lane – which runs alongside Dullingham Park, a horse-breeding stud. More pictures can be found here – Dullingham House history. Towards the bottom there is a picture of Eagle Gate Cottages – alongside one of the Eagles.

An Eagle guarding Eagle Gate  - Eagle Lane Dullingham

After that I crossed the B1061 – a fast B road, not the best road for cycling and headed towards Stetchworth Park. A quick web search shows that Stetchworth Park House is up for sale – offers around £11,000,000, but it does include the House, 3 cottages, 5 flats, two converted stable units and about 116 acres.

I think this is the road before Stetchworth, it undulates.

Undulating Eagle Road, Dullingham

The road crosses the Devil’s Dyke and track that I sometimes cycle along from Ditton Green through to a Pumping Station on the B1061. It runs parallel to the Devil’s Dyke. I tend to take fewer picture when cycling on roads – which must mean something. My route took me through Cheveley and then down to Moulton with its Pack Horse Bridge. I joined the NCN 51 route into Newmarket – although I took a short cut along the Exeter Road and joined The Watercourse (NCN51) and out towards Exning. For a change I cycled from Exning to Burwell along the Burwell Road – over the railway bridge that is all that remains of the Cambridge to Mildenhall Railway line and then into Burwell.

On the outskirts of Burwell I cycled along Greenlanes a byway I’d never noticed in Burwell before and then through the village to Newnham Drove. I’d seen a lot of rubbish on this ride – but this was the last straw – at the junction of Newnham Drove and Weirs Drove yet more rubbish dumped.

A little further along and I bumped into MikeC coming the other way so we stopped for a chat, until to got too cold to stand around as I was wearing shorts.

Rubbish fly-tipped on Newnham drove, Burwell

It was plenty warm enough for the cycle home though.

And finally – one of the problems of the focus on cycling in Cambridge is that it overlooks the need to routes from the villages around and about. Some are well served, some not so well served, such as bar Hill. The A10 corridor is now being championed – here is their new website – A10 Corridor Cycling Campaign (and their old website).

And finally, regular readers know that I often listen to the week’s Archers on my Sunday cycle – apparently they are getting an EastEnder in the show. The good news is that it isn’t so stressful to listen to as it has been.


  1. Swaffham Bulbeck CyclistMarch 13, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    Good tip about Greenlanes in Burwell - I've never found that before so will have to give it a go.

    I really enjoy my forays up into the 'mountains' too. It alwasy makes a nice change and I tend to find new lanes/ bridleways every trip. Last summer I found a really nice short cut that cut out the 'corner' between Dullingham and Ditton Green and means you miss Stetchworth. Quite muddy though.

    It's good to have a choice of landscapes to ride through. Here in Bulbeck we have the flatlands and Suffolk Hills on the doorstep of course, and the Brecks is also a short hop away from here. One day I'll try a ride through all three.

  2. I only noticed it because of the Bridleway sign - which goes to show those signs play an important role in keeping our byways and bridleways in use.

    I have been past that short cut many times without realising it was a bridleway. I must give it a go when the tracks get a little drier. Either that or take my MTB - although the knobbly tyres are a bit annoying on the roads. I bought the MTB 20 plus years ago in an and of season sale. It is still a good bike, although one thing I do notice is that modern brakes are so much better than the brakes it has.

    I am looking forward to a bit of Spring weather and hoping that paths dry out a bit as well!