Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Ride to Ely and back, some owl spotting and something unusual in a field

Saturday, 8th March 2014: Well I managed to get a picture of this plane pootling around the Fenland skies – G-LCYI. I presume that it popped into Marshalls for a quick bit of tinkering.  It is part of the BA Cityflyer fleet and is an Embraer ERJ170-100STD.  More recently it has been to Sweden.

BA – Embraer 170 above the Fenland Skies

Now usually when I cycle slightly longer distances I try not to take too many pictures in the more familiar areas – but when I got to White Fen there was activity there. This lot were volunteers from Cambridge University working with the National Trust looking after the young trees. Apparently they got hot jacket potatoes and toasted marshmallows. (Although it would be odd to get cold jacket potatoes.)

Cambridge University Volunteers working on White Fen

Cambridge University Volunteers working on White Fen

In an adjacent field there was a farmer working. The tractor is an MT845C.

Challenger Tractor with Caterpillar Tracks working in the Fens

Whilst I was taking pictures two horse riders also passed through.  The construction of the Lodes Way has attracted a diverse group of users.  I often see dog walkers on White Fen, they tend to park either side of it, cyclists are a common sight. At the weekend their are often groups, making use of the picnic tables, on sunny days. Horse riders are a slightly more unusual sight.

Horse Riding on White Fen

Before I had reached Upware another tractor picture – despite being a Saturday the push is on to make for the delay caused by the wet weather.

Agriculture in Action in the Fens (near Upware)

I stopped taking pictures until I had reached Ely and was on my way back. Yet another tractor. This tractor has been pimped up with extra wheels.The rear wheels look wider than usual as well. This one was a T7, possibly a 185.

New Holland T7.185  Sidewinder (maybe) near Ely

This is the shared-use cycle path that runs alongside the River Great Ouse into Ely.  There is to be a bypass passing over here. Is is part of the Sustrans NCN11 route.  It is a pity that new road developments don’t have to make Community Infrastructure Levy payments (as far as I know). Because whilst a few motorists might benefit it will be quite a blight on this area of countryside.

This path is pretty uneven and very narrow. So one busy days it can be a bit of a pin cycling along here. This time around there were two dog walkers with what looked like wolves.  The dogs were off their leads and further down the path – fortunately they didn’t seem to be attracted by my back wheel.

NCN11 alongside the River Great Ouse, Ely, soon to have an overhead bypass

The path passes under the railway line between Ely and Bury St Edmunds. It meets the Cambridge to Ipswich Line just after Newmarket.  Soham lies on the line, but has no station. Apparently there is the possibility that Soham will once again get a station. A few years ago there was a derailment on the old bridge (I have seen it called Hawk Bridge and Newmarket Bridge), which damaged the bridge and a new one was built.  (Picture here of the old bridge and a dangling railway truck).

The old bridge was a brick bridge, the new one is concrete, providing a canvas for the local artists.

Graffiti on Hawk Bridge – NCN51 near Ely

The  fence posts of the path running under the bridge also provided a place to keep my camera steady.

Ely Cathedral

Despite the rain the off-road sections of NCN11 back from Ely were no trouble at all. If you have never cycled to Ely from Cambridge it is definitely worth a day out (with a picnic). If the worst happens you can always catch the train back from Ely to Cambridge.  Much of the route is either on shared-use paths or country lanes. I passed a group of cyclists who were heading to Ely, although they stopped me to check they were on the right road (near Padney). 

I reckon the Sustrans routes around here are pretty well signed, but I do know that when you are in unfamiliar territory the Sustrans signage can be a bit hit or miss. (I find Boston a tricky place to follow the Sustrans route around the centre).

Wicken Fen was busy and care was needed because of all the people walking some with their dogs on leads stretching across the path. You have to pay to get into Wicken Fen but not to walk alongside. Currently the Parking costs £2.50.

Wicken Fen is the start of the Lodes Way path. The Lodes Way is one of those quaint British approaches to a Cycle route. Much of it is shared path and there are several of cattle grids and small patches of muddy field to cross en-route. You also have to haul your bike up and over a footbridge.  I have seen people struggle here. The issue is one of either cost, or joined up thinking. Just down from the footbridge is an Environmental Agency (EA) electrically operated bridge. Which is left in the open position, but would make it easier for cyclists, people with prams and wheelchair users and of course horse-riders to gain access. But no agreement can be reached.

Common sense would suggest that the electrically operated bridge could be kept open and that the small numbers of boat users could be allowed/expected to raise and lower the bridge. I would have though it was less dangerous to operate than a Lock.

There are plans to build a new and rather ambitious (and hence costly bridge) but for now we are stuck with the footbridge. It does make a good vantage point through.

Burwell Lode Footbridge on Lodes Way

Although at first I couldn’t see much.

Short-Eared Owl in Flight – seen on Lodes Way

Short-Eared Owl in Flight – seen on Lodes Way

Short-Eared Owl on a pole - seen on Lodes Way

The short-eared owl did stop on the pole for long before it stopped a snack.

Short-Eared Owl swooping – seen on Lodes Way

Short-Eared Owl swooping – seen on Lodes Way

Short-Eared Owl in Flight – seen on Lodes Way

These are the water meadows created by building a bund around the fen area. In the background is Reach Lode, which lies quote a bit higher than the surrounding land.

Burwell Fen – water meadows – Lodes Way

Short-Eared Owl in flight – seen on Lodes Way

A bit further down the track were a couple of cyclists, MikeC helping another chap with a puncture.

Mending a Puncture along Lodes Way

I stopped for a chat and whilst standing their watching some deer and not long after I had made up my mind to take a picture of the deer grazing they decided to run for it. In some strange way I think they see the action of raising a camera as threatening, perhaps  like a hunter raising a gun perhaps.

Deer – Buck plus harem? (Lodes Way)

A bit further along Lodes Way, after crossing Reach Lode Bridge I stopped some photography in a field. I couldn’t resist stopping and taking a picture myself. The model seems to be doing a good job for the photographer.  Now this is something that reminds me of my childhood when there weren’t many TV channels and we used to play Cowboys and Indians in the woods and were given cap guns and Indian Headdresses as toys. (Cowboys and Indians films seemed to be on all the time.)

A Whirling War bonnet

We didn’t have Google then, otherwise we might have been a bit more clued-up. – Native American Headdresses: Facts for Kids.

Photography in the Fens

I am enjoying the finer weather – roll on Spring – the trees will be in leaf fairly soon.



  1. Swaffham Bulbeck CyclistMarch 17, 2014 at 10:45 PM

    Superb pics of the short sleeved owl!
    After a week away on holiday I've been back on the Lodes way myself today and yesterday. It's really dried out nicely- and opens up a few more tracks and bridleways again too now after all the rain/ mud. Roll on Summer!

    1. Thank you - I am getting better at tracking them and it really helps when they perch on the pole. Although I did wonder about getting a teleconverter to increase the zoom on my lens even further.

      Just before Summer I wouldn't mind a weekend of snow though ;-)