Thursday, 20th March 2914: I rather liked going “backwards” around Wicken Fen – so I did it again, sort of. I followed NCN51 out of Cambridge through to Reach and then went around the back of Reach on Green Lane. Then for a change I went across Tubney Fen, up alongside Reach Lode to the Reach Lode Bridge and then up to Wicken Fen and back via Upware.
Actually I also cycled up Newnham Drove to Burwell Fen Farm for a look whilst I was at it.
This is the view from Church Hill on the Green Lane around Reach.
Oil Seed Rape Just Coming into Flower on Church Hill, Reach
Swaffham Prior sits on a bit of a ridge which looks larger than it is when you look at the contour lines on the map. They must be a clean lot in Swaffham Prior – that is a large water tank. Apparently it was built in 1939 on Greenhead Hill next to the council estate and the whole village had mains water by the 1950s.
This is something I ought to look for the next time I visit the village – the stained glass windows of St Mary’s church have some unusual scenes.
Swaffham Prior – seen from Church Hill, Reach
This is Green Lane, the bike is mine and not abandoned. This is the view north, with the twin run of electricity pylons visible in the distance and the Swan Lake Grain Store to the left.
Green Lane, Reach
Looking North from Green Lane Reach – pylons, what pylons!
I cycled down Green Lane (mud track) onto Little Fen Drove to Tubney Fen. The information board is a little pessimistic about just how long it takes to get to Wicken Fen – 4 miles in an hour on a bike is rather slow, perhaps they factor in frequent stops to take in the view.
Tubney Fen Information Board
I cycled across Tubney Fen to Reach Lode and then up the underbank to Reach Lode Bridge. There is still a bit of water around.
I don’t cycle across Tubney Fen that often and when I do it is usually in the other direction. I had to think a little going the other way to make sure I took the right track.
Tubney Fen – a full drain
One of the many drain across Swaffham Prior Fen.
Swaffham Prior Fen
I cycled up alongside Reach Lode onto Lodes Way and then across towards Wicken Fen. I did cycle up to Burwell Fen Farm though. (It was never a farm – but a vegetable packing shed.)
There is a path from the buildings over to the new Reach Lode Bridge. Actually it is quite a track. It runs parallel to the Lodes Way and you often see birder watchers with their large ‘scopes along here (when there is something to be seen). It is slightly raised and provides a good dry vantage point over the wetlands either side.
Here is a link to a map of the area drawn by Dr Eric Ennion, who grew up in the village of Burwell. On his map the track is called The Mill Road.
The Mill Road – Adventurers Fen/Burwell Fen
At one stage the area was reclaimed for agriculture (a link to a film taken showing the dig for victory efforts). The film is around 35minutes long, and in black and white. Although the initial efforts were for growing food later daffodils were grown commercially. They still pop up today.
Daffodils on Burwell Fen
Daffodils – Burwell Fen
The National Trust maintain the land, in part by grazing it – there are Highland Cattle and Konik Ponies. The Lodes Way path has various places where the animals can cross – Cattle Grid air locks. The Highland Cattle and pretty docile, chilled animals, but they do like a good itch. I guess it is their thick coat. They often stop by the woodwork of the grids for a good scratch.
Despite the horns they are docile and have never given me any bother – except that can be a bit sluggish when blocking the way.
Highland Cow – having a scratch on Lodes Way (and block the way)
I then cycle through Wicken and back through Upware. Mind you I did come across a recent accident on the A1123 (Dimmock’s Cote Road). It was just before the Upware turn. Someone riding a scooter had had an accident, the bike was laying in the road and the rider was being attended to on the side of the road (almost in the ditch).
A few vehicles had stopped so I passed through – it is always rather sobering to pass the scene of an accident. I did wonder whether the rider was blown off. I have passed other incidents on this road – one which closed the road.
Accident on the A1123 – near Wicken