Monday, April 7, 2014

We plough the fields and byways and scatter the good hail on the ground

Saturday, 22nd March 2014: As the rather wet Winter recedes from our memories and Spring brings flowers, green (and yellow) fields and drier byways and bridleways I have been venturing off the roads onto those tracks.

The fastest route between Quy and Lode is along the B1102, which as I have mentioned before isn’t the most pleasant and inviting roads to cycle along.  There is a Sustrans (aka longer) route which takes from Quy to Lode via Bottisham. Much of it is on shared-use paths, which are pavements with a new role.  They aren’t that wide and you have to be keep and eye out for the occasional head-height bramble or it could have your eye out.

In fact the pavement between Bottisham and Lode was widened a few years ago, which looked pretty good when new – it is rather bumpy, covered in leaves and the new and old tarmac appear to be going through a divorce – I must take a picture next time I am that way.

One other thing to be aware of it that the Bottishm Lode section passes Bottisham Village College,  so if you plan to cycle past during the start or end of the school day be aware. It suffers the sudden rush of parents using the just-in-time method of getting their kids to school along with quite a few school buses.

There are some moves afoot to open up a cycle route between Quy and Lode, but in the interim one approach I take is to cycle down the middle of Quy (weird traffic “calming”) and then out along Station Road and then cycling out along a bridleway called the Drove Way and then taking the route of the old Mildenhall to Cambridge railway line.  Part of the old railway line is a permissive bridleway (NT) but a short section section appears to be devoid of rights – although well used as a route!

As I turned off Station Road (Quy) there had been a bit of spring-cleaning. The track had been “flattened” and the ruts removed. However the going was soft, possibly quite nice for horse-riding – but flippin’ had work on a bicycle with relatively narrow (25mm) tyres.  One way of looking at it is you get a bit more exercise – but not good if you are under time pressure and the soft going goes on!

The signpost is interesting – the main label indicates there is a bridleway in both directions with helpful pictures of a walker, horse rider and cycle, just to make it clear. (Although I hadn’t realised that the right of way was for unaccompanied bicycles – without a rider!) However the bit that mentions Lode has “F/path to Lode 21/2 Miles”. (Map of Stow Cum Quy in 1737.)

Drove Way  - Stow Cum Quy

There has been quite a lot of Oil Seed Rape planted in the area – much of it is flowering – this is the bit alongside the line of the old Cambridge to Mildenhall Railway Line, not owned by the NT.

The clouds looked a little threatening.

Oil Seed Rape – beginning to flower – old railway line, Quy – Stow

A little further along the track – this time on the NT bit – more Oil Seed Rape – flowering seems to start in the corners.

Oil Seed Rape – beginning to flower – old railway line, Quy – Stow

The same field – just looking more to the left.

Oil Seed Rape – beginning to flower – old railway line, Quy – Stow

After reaching the Swaffham Bulbeck Lode bridge (Lodes Way) I headed up the byway alongside the Lode. As I cycled the wind whipped up and as I looked up the track it was white and the white bit was getting closer to me. The hail line was advancing, and as I was wearing shorts I stopped got off my bike and instead of taking pictures turned my back to the hail and put my hood up.

Fortunately although the hail was heavy it passed over pretty quickly.  It turned the fields white though. Or maybe it is a new way of sowing seed?

A field Turned White from Hail alongside Swaffham Bulbeck Lode

After the hail drama I carried on up the byway to Swaffham Lock. There was quite a bit of weather about.

I almost forgot, the track was in pretty reasonable shape for cycling – the main problem is when potholes form and fill with water – cycling along it can be a bit of a lottery.

Looking down Swaffham Bulbeck Lode form Swaffham Lock

I headed down the byway and turned off by Lythel’s Farm towards Lord’s Ground Drove. It looked like more weather was heading my way.

Turf Field – Lord’s Ground Drove

I tend to take fewer pictures when it is wet, mainly to avoid getting my camera wet. The camera bag has an additional waterproof cover for rain, but it can be a faff getting the camera in and out – so I tend to wait until there is a dry patch.

After cycling up to Upware and then around Wicken Fen and back along the Lode Way I decided it was safe enough to take pictures again. The cloud formations looked pretty good above Burwell Fen.  (Or an old nuclear missile had blown up near Mepal – part of Project Emily)

Cumulonimbus Clouds over Burwell Fen

Er – this is where my cloud identification lets me down.

Stratocumulus and Nimbostratus clouds over Burwell Fen
I think!

Walking the Dog along Reach Lode

I had to load up my route trace into Google Earth to check to see where this was taken. As soon as I did it was obvious – I was standing on Swaffham Bulbeck Lode Bridge. (In the land of the Flat the bridge is King when taking pictures.) I rather liked the stripy hedge.

More Weather on its Way – near Lug Fen Droveway

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