Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Mid-Week Ride - Blue Skies around Oily Hall Farm

Wednesday, 21st August 2013:My cycling falls into three categories. There are times when I am riding to get somewhere, whether for a meeting or to the station or to the shops. Generally I want a fairly direct route and will put up with traffic. Then there are times when I want to get out and explore. Then I tend to look a little further afield. Then there is the last category, when I just want to ride somewhere pleasant without too much hassle. Generally I want a bit of peace and quiet. I am not looking to avoid all human contact, I just want to avoid too much contact with the infernal combustion engine.

This is a ride that fits into the latter category. It is peaceful you don’t see that many people around, but on the Lodes Way there are generally other cyclists, bird watchers or walkers around. Mind you there are corners where the only signs of humanity (apart from the agriculture) are the tracks and pylons.

What better for a mid-week ride.

One of the great things about the Wicken Fen/Lodes Way area is that there are quite a few tracks of the beaten path (The Lodes Way) which means you can ring the changes whilst still getting in a few kilometres.

As we are in the harvest period there is also often something to see in the fields around as well. I have shown the route in a Bike Route Toaster map and here is the link. I have shown it as a starting end ending near Lode – although you do have to get there and no I didn’t get there by car, that would have been cheating.

If you are looking for flat then I don’t reckon there are many routes that are much flatter, the distance is 29Km or a shade under 20 miles and has a maximum elevation of 8m and a minimum elevation of 0m (sea level). 

This time around I cycled via Oily Hall. Although some if it is footpath rather than bridleway. Mind you there is a decent metalled track through to Oily Hall (Mill Drove) and then another one across the bottom edge of Oily Hall which is owned by the National Trust. (There is a diagonal footpath but they added a permissive one to allow walkers to avoid livestock in the field.

The only hassle is at the corner of the Oily Hall Farm area is you have to cross Commissioners’ Drain on a small wooden footbridge and then head down a footpath to Lodes Way reaching what appears as either White Fen Drove Way of Sandy Road depending upon which map you look at.

The route also uses a path called the Maltings Path to circle through Wicken/Wicken Fen in an anti-clockwise direction.  Whilst this also appears as a footpath it has a tarmac/gravel surface and whilst quite narrow it seems to be used by cyclists and horse riders and there is concern that the route has become more difficult for horse riders. Whilst I think cyclists often get a raw deal, it can be much worse for horse riders.

Maize showing well – near White Fen Drove Way

Three Loops Map

A bit of “in-flight” grain off-loading taking place up near Mill Drove. Which forms the T for the quaintly named Lug Fen Droveway.

Combining near Mill Drove

A little further down a field of spuds in flower. Apparently potatoes require a lot of care and attention when grown on an agricultural scale.

Potatoes growing alongside Mill Drove

Mill Drove – Oily Hall Farm Gate

Concrete tracks are quite common in these parts some were laid during the Second World War to facilitate access to the fields during the Dig for Victory Campaign. (A fascinating history was written by Alan Bloom – The Farm in the Fen in 1944.)

Mill Drove meets Oily Hall Farm

The farm doesn’t look like a farm – it is a barn, there is a water tank – I’ve no idea whether it stores water or not.

Oily Hall Farm Water Tank

This field at one corned of Oily Hall Farm (with the diagonal footpath) has had cattle and sheep in it at other times – it looks like grassland at the moment.

Oily Hall Farm

When I take pictures I often experiment with different frames – using the rule of thirds. The last picture and show placement of the horizon on the top third in the top picture and the bottom third in the lower picture.

Oily Hall Farm

I then packed my bike up in its rucksack and crossed the wooden footbridge and headed to Lodes Way

 Winking smile

I stopped on Reach Lode Bridge which provides a good vantage point and is an unobtrusive high point around here.

Cyclist heading along Lodes Way (Split Drove)

Combining can be a dusty business although I believe many Combines have air filter units for the operators. In this picture the Combine is off-loading grain into the trailer.

Combine Harvester tearing across the plains of Wicken

There were a couple of tractors and trailers ready to transport the grain.  I am not sure about the Combine in the picture the first one in the post was a Claas Dominator 96. Here is a link to Claas’ history of their Combines. A Commander set the world record in 1990 harvesting 358 tonnes of wheat in eight hours. (Over 40 tonnes per hour.)

Here is a test drive of a more modern New Holland CR9090 – £380,000 which did 551.6 tons in eight hours.

Grain being hauled along Split Drove

Although my loop ends I did have to cycle home – this is the shared-use path between Lode and Bottisham – part of Lodes Way. This is typical of the casual way pavements are treated by motorists. The approach seem t b4e to minimise the inconvenience for motorists and stuff the walkers and cyclists.

Inconsiderate Off-Loading – Lodes Way

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