Wednesday, October 9, 2013

All’s well that Herringswell

Saturday Monday, 26th August 2013: Well the Summer really has been pretty good, from my cycling perspective anyway. Mind you we have just had a bit of rain (day before this ride)  – welcome for the garden, but quite heavy and so likely to affect the byways and bridleways. It was also a reminder to pedal the pedals whilst the mud is still dry -  or some such.

So after a bit of map studying I noticed two things – one was the Peddars way is shown on the OSM Cycle map. I will definitely have to give that a go. In fact I got a bit side-tracked and started checking out the route. What I will probably do is use the train to get to Thetford and then cycle up to either Sedgeford or Ringstead and then back down to Kings Lynn and then use the train to get back. That is assuming that I can let the train to the strain rather than cause it as seems to be happening with bans from Ely to Cambridge  in the morning. Although they have increased the cycle racks at Waterbeach from 12 to 20. About time too, but I will worry about that another time.

Despite the rain I reckoned I would head out east, and try out a bridleway followed by the Icknield Way from Slade Bottom to Herringswell. Form the looks of things the 10mm of rain the previous day had dried up so nothing ventured. It was a beautiful afternoon.

I have shown the route as a loop from Lode, next door the the  National Trust Park and Ride Anglesey Abbey. Most of the route either follows scenic Sustrans routes (are there any other sort) and/or bridleways and byways.  Here is a link to the Bike Route Toaster map, which shows the loop as 62Km/ 39miles. The are two hills on the way out between Newmarket and Gazely. You won’t be needing oxygen, they barely reach 90m above sea level. Although the route also descends to sea level.

On my way out to Newmarket I sort of followed NCN51, although with a few short cuts. I didn’t bother going to Reach, nice as it is and although I followed the NCN51 route thr4ough Newmarket I tend to  cycle via Waitrose to Moulton Road. The Sustrans route goes around the house too much for me. The route I take does mean you have to cycle in traffic, but only for a short distance.

The first picture I took was of the view along the Heath Road between Burwell and Exning. Down to the bottom left there are plans for a Solar Farm, although yet to be formally presented. Although there have been discussions with Burwell Parish Council. The company proposing the solar farm is Daisy No 1 Ltd. It all sounds rather bucolic farms and daisies. The minutes of the PC indicate that it might be necessary to widen parts of the Heath Road to cope with the construction traffic.

Heath Road – Burwell – Solar Farm?

Here is the map of my ride.

A Loop from Lode to Herringswell and back – mainly byways and country lanes and shared paths

The Heath Road runs parallel to the A14 so it is quite a noisy road. This is the view, with my back to the A14.  I am not sure whether the green in the field is seedling growth or just grass.

Freshly Drilled field – Heath Road – Burwell

Another sign the Summer is coming to an end an Autumn approaches is when you see blackberries ripening in the sun.

Blackberries starting to ripen

On the way out of Newmarket on the Moulton Road, or thereabouts I was surprised to to a wall topped by broken glass bottles. You can also see the effects of leaf mites on the horse chestnut leaves.

Anti-crime measures? Broken Glass atop a brick wall

There is quite a pleasant leg-stretcher as you climb out of Newmarket up Moulton Road past the area where the great and good of Newmarket have their race horses exercised in the mornings.

Then you drop down a hill to Moulton, but you have to stop to cross the main road through the village.

Pink-wash Thatched Cottage - Moulton

You also pass a 15th Century Pack Horse Bridge built of flint and stone rubble. Apparently the river has shrunk in size since the bridge was built. Here is a picture of the bridge with the river flowing a bit more strongly and here is a bit of the history of Moulton.

Moulton Pack Horse Bridge

The climb out of Moulton is a bit steeper than the climb out of Newmarket, but it is shorter. When I reached the top I took a picture of the glorious views to the South, although some might claim it as because I needed a breather.

View South from the Moulton Roads

I wasn’t a hundred per cent certain which way I as supposed to be heading when I reached Gazeley, I took the lesser road through Needham Street. Until looking at the map I had assumed that it was the name of the road and not that I had passed through Needham Street.

Then the have to pass under the A14 and then a railway line before turning left past an industrial area with a few speed bumps along the way before you reach countryside that is typical of the Brecks or Breckland. The Brecks website has some suggestions for cycle rides as well.

Although the Brecks is one of the driest parts of England the rain the day before had left quite a few puddles along the tracks. I was wearing my cycling sandals and no socks and as I cycled through one of two of the puddles I started feeling lucky. Until I cycled into one unassuming puddle that seemed to get deeper and deeper. It was only half-way up my calves though. I was more worried that I would hit a hidden boulder and tip of into a puddle. The trick is to maintain a sensible amount of momentum.

The byway passes Kentford Heath and runs along what is called the Bury Belt on the old 25K OS map.

Welcome to the Byway

There had been a fair bit of rain and quite a lot was still around. These were some of the smaller puddles. The trick is to plan you approach and then use the chosen route at the right speed.  I you cycle through the puddles there is the risk of hidden boulders and they can be quite slippery. Travel to the edge and you risk stingles, brambles and getting snagged. Cycle down the middle and you can find yourself slipping into a puddle. I cycled through the middle of the puddles on the right.

Welcome to the Byway

My feet dried pretty quickly and I am up to date on my tetanus shots. There were some large fields.

Cycling along Bury Belt to Herringswell

I then cycled along another byway after passing Herringswell, I wasn’t sure quite where this one went – but it seemed to be heading in the right direction. The last time I was out this way I cycled along the Carrops. This track led me to Green Lane which joined the Carrops before Turnpike Lane.

Fly-Tipping – Green Lane – Red Lodge

There has been loads of new housing built at Red Lodge. When I first lived in these parts the A11 wasn’t dualled at this point and passed a Nature Reserve which has a path through it and is referred to in the sale materials for the houses – but doesn’t seem to have a website.

I did find this about Red Lodge being a ghost town though – with the nickname Dead Lodge.

Lots of new houses Red Lodge

They do have a totem pole though.  There is a truck on top and bees or wasps, possibly a five-handed tail digger wasp? Looking at the mitigation plan it would seem that the nature reserve I passed only came about because of the wasp! However owned that land must have been unhappy.

Totem Pole – Red Lodge

After that I passed through Badlingham, Chippenham and Fordham before turning off Ness Road on a byway between Tollgate Farm and Ness Farm.  This one had a few puddles as well – although none so deep that I pedalled and paddled at the same time.

Byway from Ness Farm to Broads Road – Burwell

There was wheat waiting to be harvested. This is the Soham Water Tower which the last time I looked has some info at a Soham web site – but no more.

Soham Water Tower

After Burwell I re-toured via Lodes Way and on the Burwell Lode footbridge saw this boat passing by.

Boat on Burwell Lode

That ride probably deserves a 8/10 for overall goodness.


  1. Enjoy the Peddars Way Cycle Route! I added that to OSM over quite a number of evenings.

    My motivation was to find a local-ish long distance off-road ride. Once I'd completed the OSM data, I realised it was only 40% off-road.

    I've started to see if I can get the cycle routes for the Ridgeway and Icknield Way complete. They could then be joined up to one big off-road ride home.

    1. Thank you for doing it - it stands out on the OSM (cycling) map.

      According to BRT, Thetford Station to King's Lynn station (via Ringstead) is just over 100Km which after throwing in a bit of cycling to/from local railway stations sounds like a good day ride (at my wavering level of fitness),

      Now all I need is a decent bit of weather and a time when I can sneak off for the day.