Tuesday, April 1, 2014

When the Fen wind doth blow–there shall be soil

Tuesday, 18th March 2014: For some reason I managed to convince myself that a slightly longer ride was justified despite it being a Tuesday and stuff to day.  Actually the excuse, to myself, was that as it had been drier and windier then some of the byways and bridleways would be much easier to cycle on.

The summary of this ride is that yes they were. However with all the farmers desperately trying to catch up  lots of fields have been ploughed and tilled and I cycled into my first Fen blow.

I also just about managed to dodge the rain showers, but did see a rainbow over Wicken. The first track was Low Fen Drove Way. The second track was Hundred Acre Road, from Horningsea to Lode. Then the Lodes Way through White Fen. I followed that with detour  up Great Drove (scene of the Fen Blow) through Upware, around to Wicken and then back along Lodes Way.

Picture number 1 was taken on Low Fen Drove Way, between the two Pylon runs. They head to the Burwell Electricity Substation.  I like this picture because of the way the two trees sit in the field.

Pylons Marching off to Burwell – Low Fen Drove Way

This was taken from Hundred Acres Road (although not called that now). This concrete pan was presumably built for farming purposes, now it serves as an al-fresco art gallery.

Art in the Fens (Hundred Acres Road, between Horningsea and Quy)

As I had hoped the tracks were pretty dry and cycleable. The tractors do leave a rather bumpy tread pattern in the mud though. My eyes had dropped out and all bolts had dropped off my bike.

After passing Allicky Farm this picture was taken at the centre of this link where three paths meet. The route of the (old) Cambridge to Mildenhall railway line runs across at the far end of the path.  The track is called The Drove Way (rather nice in the Winter as well).

The Drove Way – Quy Fen

At the same spot there is a archway from two trees into one of the adjacent fields. This is Oil Seed Rape and there is a tinge of yellow at the far end of the field on the right-hand side.

Oil Seed Rape Field – soon to be in flower – The Drove Way – Quy Fen

I stopped along Great Drove to take a picture of the neatly tilled fields. The soil is peaty and really does look this dark. As I was taking the picture I wondered what that mist on the other side the the tree line was.  Peat is  formed when dead organic materials fail to fully decompose due to waterlogged conditions.

Freshly Tilled and Drilled – Peat Soil Field – Great Drove

It was pretty windy with gusts of up to 40Knots (which was against me on the way back!). The mist blew across the field towards me, – it was a Fen Blow. A combination of conditions – lead to the problem.

Fen Blow – Great Drove – Upware

The soil blew across in waves. I would take a picture or two as it got closers then then turn with my back to it to avoid getting grit in my eye and over my camera.  As I cycled up Great Drove I had to keep turning away from the wind.

Fen Blow – Great Drove – Upware

The wind getting up tends to herald a shower – I more or less avoided this one – although there were puddles in the roads.

If I was quick I was hoping to find the crock of gold. Although I mentioned this rainbow was over Wicken it was a bit too far to the left really.  I was standing in the centre of this map link when I took the picture.

Rainbow over Wicken Fen

I didn’t get too wet as I seemed to pass more to one side of the shower. There was rain in the air and it was very hard work cycling back into the wind. The shower must have passed over the newly ploughed fields along Lodes Way as there seemed to be less dust in the air.

The trouble is I had broken my First Rule of cycling – which is – “Cycle out against the wind and back with it”.  (Although my other first rule of cycling is “don’t cycle there and back on the same route, if you can help it”. Yes I have other first rules as well.)

Wadlow Wind Farm seen from White Fen

It was certainly an invigorating cycle ride.

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