Sunday, February 16, 2014

Watery Fens

Monday, 10th February 2014: January was, despite the rain quite a good month for getting out on my bike. February hasn’t been so good. Although we  have perhaps faired better than some parts of the UK it has certainly been wetter and windier round these parts than in previous years I reckon. It has also been warmer. A reminder that peat burns – check out these pictures of Borth Bog on fire after high voltage power lines blew over and set it alight in Wales.

Just in case you missed it another reminder – how much the countryside is under pressure – Plans for 19,000 homes in South Cambridgeshire backed, which as the article indicates is in addition to 14,000 homes already committed to.  As Cambridge expands – it becomes even more important to leave nearby countryside unspoilt.

Every year when we reach January I tend to think, well that Winter wasn’t to bad, completely forgetting that January, February and March can often be much worse.  Well we have had a fair bit of rain this month. A comparison of 28 days of weather in February 2013 and (as I write this – although it depends upon when you open the link. ) 16 days of weather in February 2014 shows:

                          Feb 2013                  Feb 2014 (up to 15 Feb 2014)

Rain                   13.6mm                    32.5mm
Ave Temp  oC           2.7                          5.7
Min Temp  oC          -4.8                          0.8
Max Temp oC         10.5                         11.8
Max Wind sp mph   50.6                         64.4                          

The second column will change depending upon the rest of the month, but we have already had way more rain in just over half of the month. The winds have been higher as well,  with trees down, problems on the roads and damage to buildings.

So here are some pictures of the Lodes Way/Wicken Fen area. This field is adjacent to White Fen Drove (as shown on the OSM map – which at the moment doesn’t show the parallel byway) White Fen and was used for potatoes last year.

Flooding Field near White Fen

The Upware washes, as you might expect are well awash. They are also known as the Cam Washes south apparently.  Of course they are doing what they are supposed to whilst at the same time providing an important bird habitat and helping to reduce flooding elsewhere on the Cam.

Notice the electricity pole – firm foundations in the fens are difficult to achieve and this is a common sight.

Upware Washes

Tree Reflections – Upware Washes

Upware Washes – another leaning pole

The ground is also sodden, despite all the drainage ditches and the Lodes carrying water away there is lots of water collecting in the fields. This is the NCN11 Sustrans route between Priory Drove and Wicken Fen.  In order to allow free movement of the Ponies and Highland Cattle between various patches of NT land a cattle-grid “air lock” was placed along the path. Actually originally there were two, one at each end. It was changed to one in the middle.

Be careful if you cycle this way – the path between the cattle grids is pretty lumpy and mud and muck is pretty slippery.

NCN11 - Maltings Path – Wicken Fen

As I hauled my bike over the footbridge over Burwell Lode I noticed that the ramp has acquired an additional information board. The ramp is the first phase in the construction of a new bridge over Burwell Lode, although the construction of the bridge is still a few years off. Until recently the ramp was roped off, well no longer. The new board has information about Burwell Fen, its history and role in the “dig for victory”. Most recently the NT has restored it to a wetland habitat. As you can see there is plenty of “wet”.

(There are more pictures and info on the bridge here.)

New Information Board – Burwell Lode Planned Bridge Ramp

That’s a rather nice picture of the daffodils you can sometimes see growing in the Fen.

New Information Board – Burwell Lode Planned Bridge Ramp

In fact that picture looks familiar Smile

yes it is one of mine – and yes I was asked and said yes.

Daffodils in Burwell Fen

As I cycled back along Lodes Way a small deer was staring at me rather  intently, mind you there was a ha-ha and a fence between us.

At this point the pictures stop – not because my battery ran flat, or that I ran out of storage or because my camera stopped working. No the answer is more straightforward I got caught in the pretty heavy rain on my way back.  You can see the rain spike at 16:00 hours over Cambridge here on the Cambridge DTG website. I can’t really complain I have been pretty lucky so far this year.


  1. Great to see your blog and picture located in the very place that inspires you and being used by the very people looking after the landscape. Congrats.

    (btw, I just fixed that invisible byway on OSM)

    1. Thank you (for the fix and comment). It would be nice to see some better weather, so I can start venturing a little further afield. Your work on the Peddars Way is still on my list of local rides I have yet to do. Thank you for you work on the OSM, I keep thinking I ought to add to it - since I find it so useful, but I could also see it becoming a bit of an obsession.