Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Burrough Green–there and back

Sunday, 11th August 2013: Cycling serves a number of purposes for me, it is a convenient form of transport, is is eco-friendly, it is cost-effective, it is healthy and it is fun. Now it is not all of those things all of the time. Depending upon what I am doing I have to compromise. Personally the best cycle routes are away from traffic (quiet, safe, clean air), in interesting countryside and with good cycling surfaces and if I am going from A to B then relatively direct. When I am cycling somewhere for work-related purposes I tend to have to compromise most of those ideals because, even in Cambridge there are huge deficiencies in the cycle infrastructure, perhaps because the planners they bend over backwards to accommodate the needs of  car drivers.

The trouble is, here in the UK those sorts of routes are far and few between. Having said all of that there are some pretty good off-road leisure cycling routes, as opposed to hard-core MTB type routes which are not so prevalent.

This route starts off on Street Way, now a bridleway, which heads out of Great Wilbraham on a north-easterly direction. Although this time around I joined it from the Little Wilbraham Road. Comparing the 1930s map with the current map it looks as if it got a bit nobbled by the dualling of the A11.  The Street Way and a route that crosses  (between Bottisham and Westley Bottom – called Heath Road) are quite wide and straight, with hedge boundaries.  Although they are byways they are rather more like bridleways in terms of the cycling surface.

Despite the fact that both the A11 and A14 are nearby because it is flat you can barely so the dual-carriageways. You can hear them though.

Street Way

Here is the map of my route. I then headed out to Burroughs Green, which is more or less straight. The last but is a byway but has yet to appear on the OSM map. Here is the Bike Route Toaster Link. It is just under 42Km / 26 miles in length. There is a bit of a hill at the start (reaching 115m), but it is in the first half of the ride.

The only bit I don’t like is the bit around Newmarket. The B1061 is a straight and fast road, but not tremendously wide.  As you will see the route I chose this time in Newmarket highlights how crap some cycling facilities can be.

Map of my Ride

What was that said about the seclusion of the bridleways, at this time of year there are combines about. There were several about – this picture was taken as one Combine was crossing the kink in the Street Way. The Combine is a Class Lexion 660. To the right you can see the Wadlow Wind Farm in the distance.

Combine Harvester crossing the Street Way, near Little Wilbraham

This is the field the Combine came from. They had been running two machines but left this one behind to finish up. To the right you can see where the Street Way heads towards the A11.

Combining a big field – near Little Wilbraham

Here is the last scene with a bit of zoom. You can see on of the A11 Information signs.

Combining a big field – near Little Wilbraham

And this is the path running alongside that field in the last picture – pretty straight – more of a footpath now though.

Street Way – near the Wilbrahams

Here is the Combining (from the last field) powering up the hill. This one is a Claas Lexion 750.

Combining a big field – near Little Wilbraham

I must have liked the drama in the picture, ‘cos here it is again, less zoom.

Combining a big field – near Little Wilbraham

The Street Way then joins Heath Road.

Heath Road – looking towards Bottisham

These guys were working, here they were doing a bit of in-flight off-loading. The tractor driver has to vary his speed to ensure the whole of the trailer gets used.

Combine off-loading grain while Combining

The Wadlow Wind Farm again.They weren’t moving that fast – but had all neatly lined up.

Wadlow Wind Farm

The Heath Road (byway) then crosses the A11 by way of an accommodation bridge. This bit of the byway is the worst. They seem to have suffered a plague of rabbits you have to keep you yes open for holes along the track.

After crossing the A1304 the track becomes a gravel road down to the Westley Crossing Cottages and the Westley Crossing.  This is a DIY level crossing. The track is part of the Ipswich – Cambridge line.It is a poor relation of a railway line with a single track and has not been electrified. Apparently it is is useful for 6th Form students getting to Hills Road and Long Road though.

The Samaritans sign was new, the Samaritans and Network Rail have formed a partnership. The link indicates that of the 5,608 suicides in 2012 around 210 took their lives on the railway.

Westley Level Crossing

The “climb” part of the ride is next, although the route becomes a road and a very quiet one at that.

Whenever I cycle past this dilapidated farm building on the outskirts of Westley Waterless I can’t help feel that it would make a nice location for a house. Although I think that old farm buildings have a certain charm given the shortage of housing it could be put to better use perhaps.

Dilapidated Farm Building – Westley Waterless

The is the view that “house” would get looking down towards Cambridge.

The road then hits a T-junction where it meets the B1052. There is a wide track with a tarmac path to the left where you carry on and soon meet the B1061. (The byway isn’t marked on the OSM map). Turn left and then you will shortly come to another byway to the right (again not marked on the OSM map). It also forms part of the Icknield Way Trail.

This track starts as gravel but soon become grass – it can get wet and muddy but has been cleared a bit recently. This comes out on Dullingham Ley which is a no-through road (the other way). I head down it to a bridleway, again on the right.

This is more of a bridleway in terms of quality as well.  Despite all the dry weather we have been having this path varies between very muddy and muddy. This time around it was just muddy. Muddy enough for the ground to be pretty chewed up by hoof prints. The map shows a stream along its length.

This map of Dullingham shows it is called Watery Lane – too true. (Here is another Dullingham Map – village maps are often more interesting than the OS maps, this one shows disputed paths.)

The trick is to maintain good momentum and I tend to head for the edge of the path. Although this time I got stingled.  There must be a source of water somewhere around.

Muddy Bridleway near Burrough Green

After emerging on a road the route turns right and heads to the Water Tower (Ditton Green) and takes another bridleway along Dane Bottom.  The route detours a little around Camois Farm, try to avoid scaring the horses, they are a bit skittish. Perhaps they don’t see many cyclists.

This route runs parallel (ish) with the Devil’s Dyke and the views are wonderful.

Dane Bottom – an ancient symbol in the wheat!

How about that – a track open views – the first time I cycled along here is was uplifting. I still enjoy the view.

Dane Bottom

After crossing a road the track continues.

Until it reaches the B1061. More combining was happening. The other feature of this part of the world is the the countryside has gotten a little lumpier, in a gentle sort of way. This is yet another Claas Lexion – a 580+.

This was a slightly smaller field with some odd angles. It didn't stop the grain being off-loaded though.

Another Combine off-loading grain while Combining

I think I ought to have been a bit more selective and chosen one of these two pictures – ah well too late now.

Another Combine off-loading grain while Combining

The same could probably be said for these two pictures as well. Same subject just different framing.

The close-up view.

At least this is a bit different – you can almost see the white’s of his eyes.

Apparently the cabs are the best place to be with air-con and dust filters.

I mentioned crap cycling facilities – well heading out of Newmarket to Exning there are shared-use path. Ordinarily I wouldn’t use it it isn’t worth the trouble. You have to stop where roads intersect and of course wide paths provide parking opportunities.

Parking on the shared use path on Exning Road, Newmarket

It gets worse. You also have a chicane to deal with – that is barely wide enough for my bike. Of course this time around I can’t blame Cambs County Council Newmarket is in Suffolk. Although there are some that would like to join Cambs.

I then cycled along NCN51 out of Exning along the “back way” to Burwell. You pass another farm building that I reckon would make a nice house.  Although MikeC told me that there has been a consultation about building a Solar Farm on this neck of the woods.  Here is more on the Exning Parish Council Minutes – Appendix A.  The minutes indicate that it would be a 5MW installation on 10Ha of agricultural land, currently owned by Anglian Water.

It is funny how we call such things “farms” -  Wadlow Wind Farm, Solar Farm. It will make this bit of the NCN51 route a bit unpleasant during the construction phase I would have thought. (If it goes ahead.)


  1. Hi Jamie,

    glad you're back, SBC & I had been wondering where you'd got to.

    The 5MW solar panel installation proposed for Exning is next to the A142, just to the north of the sewerage farm (pretty much where the "S" of "Shared" is in the top right corner of your map. Nothing has been installed there yet as far as I can see, but I will not be cycling along the A142 to check on progress. Horrible road!

    The latest proposal that affects NCN51 is in the field behind the barn in your photo, and in the next field to the north. The rating is 25-30MW, but only while the sun is shining of course.

    Once installed it seems unlikely to be a problem to anyone, except possibly the blimp that carries a TV camera at the bigger Newmarket race meetings. What concerns me is the construction traffic on the road to the site (Heath Road) from the B1102. Until details of the groundworks and foundations are revealed in the Planning Application the level and duration of the extra traffic is speculative. My contact on the Parish Council thinks that the formal application won't be made until late in the year at the earliest. So I'll be scanning the East Cambs planning applications regularly.



    1. Thanks Mike and for spotting my mistake. The A142 is a horrible road I rarely drive along it let alone cycle along it. A friend was in a nasty car crash a few years ago near the railway bridge.

      I have no real idea quite what level of construction is required for a Solar farm. There is one out near Wilburton I am not sure how close to the road it is but I might cycle out there and take a look. From this BBC link (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-14218355) the groundworks don't look too bad.

  2. It must be the one in ECDC reference 10/00958/FUM, which is at Mingay Farm (TL475740). The groundworks do indeed look very light. Access from Twentypence Road looks quite feasible, so I may take a look myself.


    1. It isn't far from, the bridleway (Fen Side). I will wait for the wind to die down before I venture far though.