Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Visit to the Phone Box Museum–Prickwillow

Sunday, July 28th 2013: Well this will be the last ride of the month, my aim is to venture a little further afield for my next ride. So I thought as I have been more-or-less heading out in different directions I would head out towards Prickwillow and then by on NCN11 from Ely to Lode.

I hadn’t released that the River Great Ouse flowed out towards Prickwillow, it was diverted in 1829-30 and diverted north from Ely. The village was built along the old riverbank and the original channel was ploughed and filled in.

That last link also reports that in the 1920s the draining of the land meant that the was shrinking at 2” (51mm) a year and as the land shrank steps had to be added to reach the doors of the church and some of the local buildings. The link also suggests that B1104 between Isleham and Prickwillow is the most affected by subsidence and the some car passengers report feeling “seasick”.

My plan was to stop by the Phone Box Gallery and see what was on display.

The route I chose was to head out towards Burwell and then through Fordham to Isleham and to enjoy the undulating B1104 to get to Prickwillow. Then I cycled back towards Ely and down NCN11 (and the Lodes Way).  I have shown the journey as a loop from Lode – and no I didn’t drive out – I just think it is easier to show the actual loop. I have met cyclists who do drive and park in Lode in order to be able to cycle along safer routes (their words).

Here is the Bike Route Toaster Link, the loop is a little over 60Km, and flat, with a little ripple in places. Although this route has more road than I would normally use I personally don’t find the B1102 or the B1104 to be too bad. It can get a bit exposed out between Isleham and Prickwillow though. So it is probably worth looking at the weather forecast to check the windspeed and direction. I think I got a wrong although the average windspeed was around 10Knots and from the South. So it certainly helped on my way to Prickwillow and the route back has more shelter.

I do wish there were better ways to tackle speeding in villages rather than random hillocks along the road with cycle lanes hopping on and off the road.  This is Market Street in Fordham. The path alongside the car is a shared-use path according to the map. Then there is an advisory cycle lane on the road then it switches back to the pavement. But a little bit further on it goes back onto the road!

I for one would be more than happy to have my SatNav tell me the speed limit and where I was exceeding it. It would make driving easier not harder. I still think that the driver would be responsible no matter what. Although it has been used as mitigation, and accepted as such it appears in the case of a death of a cyclist. (Here is another case.) I guess the warning would have to audible.

Market Street – Fordham

Here is the map of my ride. I sort of followed NCN51, but didn’t bother going up the hill and round Swaffham Bulbeck. As a cyclist there is a junction to negotiate heading out in either case.

I also didn’t bother with the Reach bypass, nice as it is. Mind you I did avoid the up bit of Mill Hill.  I still had to climb up – but used Rogers Road instead.

A Lode – Prickwillow Loop

I have not thought about it before – but the River Snail goes through Fordham from Snailwell. According to Wikipedia the name means “spring or stream infested with snails” or maybe “sluggish stream”.

After Fordham there is a straight bit of road, towards Isleham.  The road rises over what would have been the Cambridge to Mildenhall Railway line and  part of which is now Isleham Local Nature Reserve (LNR) – a linear site.

Isleham is an interesting fen village. Here is a map c. 1800 of the place  The National Byway passes through as well. A pity it is still under development. After Isleham you join the undulations of the B1140. It is not so busy though, perhaps because it isn’t so smooth, or perhaps because not a lot of traffic travels between Prickwillow and Isleham. I did pass this burnt-out van just off the road though.

Burnt-out Van alongside the B1104

The undulations don’t really register on a bicycle though – well not at the speeds I cycle at.

The road to Prickwillow

As you get nearer to Prickwillow there is a shed in a field – this one in fact – I have taken its picture a few times.

Shed in a field – Prickwillow

Black Wing Drain – Prickwillow

After reaching Prickwillow on Putney Hill Road – although there is not much evidence of a hill – I turned right and onto the Phone Box Gallery.  A while ago the BBC ran a Domesday project – Putney Hill farm gets a mention.  There is also a mention of the Farming Year in Prickwillow.

Here is a link to a talk given by Chris Jakes – Principal Librarian Local Studies, Cambridge Central Library. He grew up in Prickwillow and shows many interesting pictures, including the Soham Train explosion during the war and a 1576 Saxton map with the River Great Ouse passing Prickwillow.

Here is what I came to see – it was publicising Open Studios. The last exhibition on their website is for Jan 13 – Barbara Dunaj.

Phone Box Gallery - Prickwillow

This is what crash test dummies do on their days off?

Phone Box Gallery - Prickwillow

I then headed home. I was concerned that there was rain around and did fell a few sprinkles – although Cambridge didn’t get any in the afternoon. Anyway I didn’t hang around just in case. My first stop was Burwell Lode Bridge.

Burwell Lode

When I reached Newnham Drove there definitely seemed to be rain to the North- I seemed to be heading away from it though.

Burwell Fen Farm - Newnham Drove – Lodes Way

I was convinced there was rain around and I didn’t have a rain jacket of warmer top – so I kept going.

Raining near Upware?

As I got closer to home I was sure it had rained but I’d managed to escape it. Mind you a quick look at an Ely weather site suggests no rain there!

Dark Clouds above the Fens

Although it is not a route I take that often it does make for a good leg stretcher.


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