Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Rain Dodging in the Fens

Saturday, 15th February 2014: Despite the winds, that seemed to have been howling for ever I just had to get out on my bicycle after what seemed like of enforced non-cycling.  Most of the inactivity was due to the weather, mainly the wind, but also because it was my wife’s birthday and so we popped out for lunch a few times. (One of the advantages of working from home!). We had even done the weekly shopping the day before because the weather was so bad.

According to the weather forecast the winds were supposed to subside during the afternoon (the link shows what actually happened), so I broke my usual rule and instead of cycling out against the wind and back with the wind behind me I went with the wind, figuring that it would have subsided by the time I was heading home.

The soggy weather has restricted my cycling recently, For leisure I prefer to stay away from busy roads, it just isn’t pleasant.  Although I don’t like cycling on thick gloopy mud either. I did consider cycling up the CGB Cycleway to St Ives – but I believe that the cycleway is flooded at the St Ives end so it was the Lodes Way again. I rather like cycling along Low Fen Drove Way, but that has been very muddy and the ride back along Hundred Acres Road and the old Cambridge to Mildenhall railway line behind Anglesey Abbey has similarly been very soggy.

The weather forecast also indicated that showers would blow through as well so with fingers crossed I headed out onto the highway NCN51 to the Lodes Way.  Now despite the fact I have cycled this way some twenty-odd times over the last few weeks there is always something to see (and of course take a picture of).

As I headed up to Upware along Great Drove I saw that some stupid git had decided to dump a load of broken glass and partially cover it with some matting in one of the passing places. You might also notice some tyres dumped near the sign, although I think they have been there for some time.

This is dangerous for whoever has to clear it up, it is dangerous for vehicles and cyclists – it is totally selfish, anti-social and dangerous. The countryside is already under pressure from development without it being used as a dumping ground.

Fly-tipping on Great Drove on the way to Upware

Although I don’t really like having to cycling into the wind having it push you along is another matter. You, well I can’t help feeling fit and energetic as I bowl along, rationally I know the wind is giving me a big boost but as the miles whiz by it still feels good.  It was quite a bight start to my ride, but there were plenty of clouds in the sky.

Fens – blue skies and white clouds – showers in store

Although the winds have been strong and there has been some wind damage in the Cambridgeshire area I didn’t seem that many trees down. Most of the tree damage as like this. Where a tree choked by ivy, and so having a large surface area had succumbed to the wind.  In fact most of the damaged trees were also along the verge.

Wind Damage – Upware Road (between Upware and Dimmock’s Cote Road)

As I headed down Way Lane and Lower Road to Wicken I realised the wind was still quite strong and that I wasn’t as fit as I “thought” I was. It was still pretty blustery as it blew me across the road. Hum it might be harder work than I though cycling back along the Lodes Way.

Wicken Lode

These two pictures were similar to the pictures I’d taken before – but this time I’d put on the 100mm to 300mm zoom lens on my camera  (or 200mm to 600mm in 35mm speak). They are in this post if you want to compare them.

Wicken Lode

As I cycled back along Lodes Way the wind was stronger than I had thought it might be. Also the view from Burwell Lode foot bridge looked a bit worrying – there were showers in the Cambridge direction.

Burwell Fen from Burwell Lode Footbridge

As I passed Newnham Drove I wondered whether I might have avoid the shower it appeared to be skirting to the north.

Burwell Fen Farm and Showers over Upware?

Just after setting off after the last picture before I realised it I passed an owl perched on a fence post by the side of Lodes Way, as soon as I stopped to take a picture it flew off, I must pay more attention.

As I got closer to Reach Lode the rain started spitting, I tried to speed up, but the wind was also picking up and agin me. So I took refuge in the culverts under Reach Lode Bridge.

It wasn’t long and the rain stopped spitting and started p*ssing it down. The rain was followed by the hail. With a bit of jiggery-pokery you can see the hail traces in this picture taken from the culvert.  The “pond” is one of the areas created from the bridge banking.  The water almost looked like it was boiling – except it was cold.

Hail from the shelter of the Reach Lode Bridge Culvert

With a little less processing, but a faster shutter speed here is the boiling pond and you and see some hailstones frozen in mid-air (forgive the pun).

Hail from the shelter of the Reach Lode Bridge Culvert

Hail frozen on the ground

As I waited a 4x4 pulled up and the driver appeared to be reading a newspaper – waiting for the rain to subside before taking the dog for a walk?

It wasn’t too long before the rain and hail had blown through. When I went to get my bike and set off it turned out that two walkers had taken refuge in the culvert next-door. 

Rain Blowing over the Bank of Reach Lode

The view ahead from Reach Lode Bridge – it didn’t look too promising there was more showers about. The is a view that would end up with solar panels if the Lapwing Fen Solar Park gets the go-ahead. (A bit of marketing in the name there – it makes it sound like a sunny wildlife park full of lapwings!).

STOP PRESS – Solar Associates has announced it will not be submitting its application.

So this view will carry on as usual!

New Gant Farm from Reach Lode Bridge

The Wide Open Fens from Reach Lode Bridge

The Wide Open Fens from Headlake Drove

And I didn’t get wet on the rest of the ride – and the wind dropped a little.


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