Sunday, 6th April 2014: Whenever I manage to “sneak” off for a longer cycle ride a lull always seems to follow afterwards. I guess it is a combination of weather, catching up with stuff I didn’t do, tiredness and allowing the reasons not to cycle to overpower the reasons to cycle. Which is of course why there is a two-day gap between my last ride and this one.
I tend to try and find time to catch up on various radio podcasts, that I subscribe to, over the weekend – generally by cycling along more secluded routes. Generally I look forward to it. The podcasts range from Radio 4 documentaries, Drama of the Week, More or Less to the Archers.
Unfortunately, for me, the Archers seems to have moved from a gentle tale of a rural and agricultural middle England to a hyper dramatized tale of misery and woe. If I wanted hyper dram I would watch one of the soaps on TV that seems to cater for such tastes. I really don’t enjoy listening to the Archers and it ending with a heavy heart – I have to remind myself it ain’t real.
So to make up for the missing miles I added a bit onto my usual Sunday route by cycling a little further up NCN11 to Barway. All in all there were three “loops” to my ride. Here is the Bike Route Toaster link – Cambridge Barway Loops. The ride is flat just over 53Km / 33 miles – although the total distance does depend upon where you start from of course. It is the usual mix of byways, bridleways, country lanes and shared paths.
At this time of year most of the bridleways and byways are bone-dry, which I prefer, but they can be pretty rutted. They help me with my bike-control skills – I occasionally find myself jumping of my bike in an unplanned way – but rarely fall off. (It does happen though.) The back route around Barway is a farm track with quite large lumps of stone which would be a bit tedious on a skinny-wheeled bicycle.
For convenience (mine) I have shown the route starting where Low Fen Droveway and High Ditch Road meet. It is not so much to encourage people to drive there and then ride but It gives a more accurate measure of the ride itself. Personally I rarely use my car to go and ride – it seems wrong somehow. I prefer to let the train take the strain – although there are limits. I did drive to Boston in order to cycle to Lincoln and back.
Cowslips along Low Fen Drove Way
The map of my route.
The first and last bits of Low Fen Drove Way are rather potholed gravel tracks, in the middle the route is mud – this bit has some deep ruts – I normally cycle along the middle raised bit – that tends to work for me – no dabs this time.
Low Fen Drove Way – the rutted section
The Avenue of trees on Biggin Lane coming into Leaf
After popping up through Horningsea I then took the bridleway that eventually gets you to Lode. It can get quite busy – it is the nearest bit of countryside that has “convenient” car parking!
only the other day I was thinking how rotten it must be for horse riders around these parts – motorists are more unforgiving of anything that slows them down than they ever used to be. It can be unpleasant for cyclists so what it must be like riding a horse I don’t know. (Because I have only ridden a horse a couple of times.) However Just as I was thinking that there are fewer horse riders around and that they have been bullied of the roads than I have started seeing a few more out and about – and most welcome they are.
The Horse riders seem to be a much more effectively organised when it comes to asserting their rights and ensuring that bridleways and byways don’t get deliberately forgotten. There are also local organisations which are important when it comes to providing evidence about a particular track’s usage history.
One example of a route getting designated a bridleway was that of the track alongside Reach Lode from Upware – are reported halfway down this Shelford and District Bridleways Group web page. A route that I benefit from. Apparently it took 10 years and there was opposition from villagers, boar owners and East Cambridgeshire Ramblers Association. Apparently they were worried about horse dung – why not the same concern about dog crap – which is much more distasteful. (A link to a call for help – with mention of the chain ferry.)
I am surprised that the Ramblers fought to keep it a footpath. Ramblers and Horse riding groups surely have more in common than they have to fight about.
The horse on the left was a little skittish and seemed to want to walk in the ditch! I went past when they reached the concrete pan just up past them and to the left – no issue. What I do tend to find somewhat alarming is when dog owners, whose dogs are not under control, walk along here with their dogs of their leads. I probably get chased by dogs 1 in every 10 encounters – when such dogs are off their leads.
Hundred Acre Road – Horse Riders
Blossom Snow – somewhere between Horningsea and Lode
Well I reckon it is unusual to see the Oil Seed rape out in flower so early. I rather like it and don’t mind the smell.
Oil Seed Rape – somewhere between Horningsea and Lode (The Drove Way)
Although the actually flowering bit doesn’t last that long really.
Crops popping up in the fields – Great Drove
It was interesting the role that Victor Veilig and Benni Brems played in the Netherlands (and Germany) in a piece by David Hembrow – What do Victor Veilig and Benni Brems say about Subjective Safety? Apparently the little “yellow boys” generally only appear when residents feel that safety of a particular street is an issue.
I wonder it that is the message here as well along Lower Drove/Fen Side/Padney Drove. This is a no-through road although certain vehicles can access a track alongside Old Fordey House. It is exactly the sort of typical country lane, than when I was a kid I would have walked down the middle of the road.
Now it is a pretty reasonable road to cycle but – there are some vehicles that do seem to whizz along this road – not so much the tractors – but the road is a victim of the fact it is relatively quiet and so some vehicles speed along it with impunity. There is another of there “yellow boys” a little further along – a sign that some traffic takes liberties.
Little Yellow Boy – NCN11 between Wicken and Barway
I cycled through Barway to Barway Bridge and then back along a farm track to Goose Fen Bridge. It doesn’t appear on the Sustrans map, probably because Barway is not some mega-metropolis and so most cyclists risk the road! The track is a little unpleasant – that is some “large gravel”. It starts of ok though and I still use it from time to time.
Barway – NCN11 – the missing link
A little way along the track were these two bikes – why were they locked up in the bushes? G’s has its main Hostel for its workers in Barway – they do provide lots of entertainment – however perhaps have some cyclists there?
Cycle Parking – disguised as a tree (Barway)
I took a few pictures of the Burwell Lode Footbridge – however my attempts to create a montage were pretty crap. You might notice how one dog owner couldn’t be bothered to clear up after his/her dog and another owner bagged it and then left it on the first step.
There are one or two dog owners who are a disgrace – there is no excuse for this sort of anti-social behaviour – this bridge is used by lots of people.
Burwell Lode Footbridge
Some sort of bird of prey – White Fen
Dodgy Shared use pavement markings – NCN51 – Bell Road – Bottisham
Better Cycle markings – Bell Road/Newmarket Road - NCN51
NCN51 – Shared-use Path – heading into Bottisham – beware over-hanging branches though.