Sunday 16th February 2014: It was a beautiful, sunny Sunday and after all the windy and rainy weather people were out in their droves. Particularly in the Lode area. Now I don’t think that they were here to see Lode, but rather to visit nearby Anglesey Abbey. At the moment the snowdrops are on show along with a Winter Garden that is definitely worth seeing. The snowdrop festival is running until March 9th apparently.
Why is is so popular, well I reckon is it partly to do with the fact that it is a rather nice, but “safe” bit of countryside (114 acres/46 hectares) to enjoy away from the hustle and bustle of the City. The fact they have a restaurant and shop there probably helps. Their webpage doesn’t mention quite how many parking spaces they have – but there are oodles. Also their webpage refers to distances in yards – to give it that old-fashioned touch – or because their visitors are from that era? (Here is an analysis of the economic impact of the recent expansion of the visitor facilities at Anglesey Abbey - it has become a “destination”.)
Somewhat inevitably this success also leads to an increase in traffic. The Abbey is situated close to the A14 and Cambridge and so is very easy to get to. Now I don’t actually know whether this leads to Lode being somewhat overrun by cars or whether there were some other event on, however there does some to be a correlation with good weather, Anglesey Abbey’s car parks being full and cars parking along Lode Road in Lode.
It is a pity that whilst the Abbey is readily accessible by car (coach) it is not so easy to get to by cycling or public transport. A look at the map and you will see that Anglesey Abbey is around 2 miles from the A14, the nearest train station is 6 miles away. The Abbey isn’t far from the Lodes Way, there is a bit of a detour to cycle from Cambridge, via Bottisham to the Abbey unfortunately. It is a pity that a more direct dedicated route along the line of the old Cambridge to Mildenhall Railway line couldn’t be created.
Why is it that transport links for cyclists can be so indirect and all around the houses. This is a local route which heads form Cambridge to Newmarket. It is NCN route 51, as this picture shows when you reach a T-junction in Bottisham there is the Sustrans route to Newmarket, turn left and it is 15 miles in distance. However turn right and it is only 6 miles as the car drives. Yep aren’t you lucky, cyclists you get another 9 miles of scenic loveliness. Now I buy into scenic routes that are perhaps not so direct, but bicycles are also a transport choice. Why should it only be motorists who get more direct routes. To get people cycling there need to be direct and dedicated routes as well as leisure routes. Assuming an average cycling speed of 12mph then it would take 2 hours 30 minutes to cycle 15 miles there and back, compared with 1 hour to cycle 6 miles there and back. Why is it that planners feel that cyclists have so much time to waste. I think that the false assumption is made that since cyclists are already accepting it will take longer then they won’t mind it being even slower. WRONG.
The trouble is that so much effort seems to go into making motorists lives easier, more parking, more roads, that they forget about everybody else. Worse still anything that might be perceived as impeding motorists is seen as wrong, or a tax. Well if the Daily Mail headlines are anything to go by.
For instance “Now Brussels forces 60mph speed limit on M3 Drivers”, including the sub-heading “New cameras will be hard-to-sport grey rather than bright yellow”. Why – well cars pollute and pollution is harmful to people – not a bad reason – or perhaps the DM are more incensed that Brussels told us to. You want another example – “Now they’ve found another way to mil drivers! Council unveils Britain’s first automated cameras for box junction offences”. Yes – but it is those stupid and selfish drivers who try to push ahead that cause the flipping congestion and chaos.
Where was I, ah yes cycling into Lode for a calming ride around the Fens near Wicken, what was it I was saying about selfish drivers. The last few drivers have quite happily parked more or less over the entire pavement – to avoid their cars getting scratched by anyone trying to get through the village. (Perhaps not happily, perhaps grumpily and complaining of lack of parking at Anglesey Abbey.) A little further down and they have parked on the road – good, but right by a junction - bad. I don’t know about you, but that fats my definition of anti-social parking.
Lode – Parking on the Pavement
Fortunately as I passed through Lode I was back into the countryside and it was glorious and the skies were blue. The various field drains were also wet and presumably doing their job. This was along Great Drove, looking South West, about half-way up.
Shooting pictures into the sun tends to highlight issues, my apologies but the filter on the front of my lens was a tad dusty, which is why there are some splodges near the sun.
Blue Skies and Greening Fields – Great Drove
A bit further along Great Drove and I passed some men at work on a Sunday (I didn’t look too closely so there might also have been women). This group were fixing the power cables strung along the edge of the road on wooden poles. I think a tree had blown onto the lines causing some problems.
Although it was a Sunday the road was pretty busy (busier than during the working week). You can also see how Fen Roads undulate with the shrinkage of the soil underneath them.
Electricity Repairs on Great Drove
I stopped at Harrison’s Drove to take a picture of the cables as they drunkenly made their way down the Drove. I am not quite sure what the one on the left is doing as it is a single pole connected to the row on the right-hand side. One of two cars slowed down, presumably wondering what on earth I was taking pictures off!
Harrison’s Drove – Wibbly Electricity Poles
I passed a reasonable number of cyclists and there were loads of people visiting Wicken Fen – so many that cycling along NCN11 through the Fen was rather tricky. Most people tend to let a cyclist through with good grace – not all though. I reckon that they need to think about widening the path if they really want to encourage visitors to hire bicycles and go cycling.
There were loads of people about, in the greater fen area as well. It is popular with Birders, walkers, dog walkers and cyclists. There were loads of cars parked (~20) in the area near to the Burwell Lode Footbridge. Some of the birders have some pretty big optical equipment which is pretty heavy and so welcome the various places they can access the area by car.
What looked like an air ambulance also flew overhead. It was a bit to high to get a clear picture though.
Air Ambulance above the Wicken Fen Skies?
As I passed Newnham Drove there were some large birds circling in the sky. Whilst I learnt the names of flowers when I was at Primary School I’ve have never really been good at identifying birds – sorry.
Big Bird of the Skies of Wicken Fen
Did I mention that the skies were blue?
Blue Skies over Burwell Fen
There were quite a few birders on Reach Lode Bridge and I also bumped into MikeC. It was a very pleasant place to stop for a chat, with birds to see and various cyclists and walkers passing through.
There were also Birders sprinkled around the Fen, here was one a little further along the bank. As you can see they come prepared with binoculars and ‘scopes. I had a quick look here to get a sense of how a Birding Telescope compares with my 100-300mm camera lens - but the terminology is too different for a quick comparison.
Bird watching on Reach Lode bank
This path crosses the Fen from near the Reach Lode Bridge across to Newnham Drove, Mike called it a name, which I have forgotten (Mill Road?), I’ll ask him next to I bump into him. I think it runs along the line of Drainer’s Ditch. All three are looking at something through their binoculars.
Bird Watchers – Burwell Fen
After a while I set off towards Cambridge. Although we have had a fair bit of rain in these parts the wind tends to blow the roads dry fairly quickly.
Split Drove (part of Lodes Way)
As I rounded the corner onto Headlake Drove a pleasant surprise. Well ac6tually it wasn’t a surprise as Mike had mentioned it – but it was pleasant. Some kind digger driver had cut a drainage channel to a nearby drain. So what has been a small pond had more of less drained.
Headlake Drove – One less puddle (pond)
On my way back through Lode it seems that justice had been done – this car, parked over the pavement had received a ticket.
Pavement Parker Ticketed in Lode?
A little further along and I could see that another car had received a ticket. I assume that the other two cars weren’t there at the time the nearest one got a ticket? All red cars though!
Another Pavement Parker Ticketed in Lode?
This car on the other side of the road had also been ticketed. A timely reminder on why such pavement parking is wrong – if those folk had been walking this way they would either have to struggle on the grass or gone around on the road. Pavement parking is rather selfish behaviour.
Another Red Pavement Parker Ticketed in Lode?
It seems that Ely isn’t the only place that has stepped up ticketing of problem parking – well done.