Friday, September 10, 2010

Another Lodes Way Loop!

Yes this is deja-vu, once again I decided to pop around the Lodes Way. Why? Well there is a Grand Prix on Sunday and I try not to miss them - so bad timing for the opening on the Lodes Way Route as the two events clash. More importantly it is a very enjoyable route to cycle around - close to Cambridge, interesting tracks and quiet countryside. This route is not quite the same as the previous one. It still has three "inner loops" but the first one is much larger and the second more rectangular.

The route is just slightly longer than the previous one - but still around 50Km (30 miles). Probably what I ought to do is see how far a more minimalist route would be. For those new to cycling 50Km probably seems quite a long way, but as long as you are comfortable in the saddle one of the beauties of a bicycle is that you take your seat with you and can go as fast or as slow as you want. Now obviously there are some limits - what I really mean is that you can pootle around a course like this and enjoy it, just take your time. Here is the BikeRouteToaster Link to the map shown below.

It is a flat course and only varies in height (according to BRT) from sea level to 19m above sea level and so there are no hills. The only unpleasantness will occur if it is windy or windy and rainy - but my advice is to pick a nice day for a bit of exploring the first time - take a drink and a snack and then head out. In fact it is so easy to use BRT that I have created a simple Loop Route from Cambridge to Wicken Fen - it starts from Stourbridge Common and heads out to Bottisham on Sustrans 51 where it then takes the Lodes Way to Wicken Fen (the visitor centre) and back via Burwell (another Sustrans 11 leg!) and the Sustrans 51 through Reach, Swaffham Prior and Swaffham Bulbeck and Bottisham and then Cambridge. Here is the BRT link, it is 48Km long/ 30miles - but for those living further away and wanting to drive there bikes then there is the option of parking at the Newmarket Road Park and Ride car park just on the outskirts of Cambridge.

Back to the actual route I took - I like to cycle on byways and headed out of Cambridge along High Ditch Road and then along Low Fen Drove Way over the A14 by bridge. (The Sustrans 51 route goes under the A14 if you were wondering.) Most of the fly-tipping has been removed although there was still the remains of what looked like old shop fittings. Peas were grown in this field - but rather than harvested appeared to go brown and dry up - it has now been harvested - whether that means the (dried) peas will be used for seed I am not sure. Again the weather forecast looked good, this time despite a few drops of rain at the start it remained dry.

Once heading East again on the Harcamlow Way I took some pictures of this cracking concrete. Why you might ask - well the Cambridge Guided Busway used concrete tracks and I wonder how they will avoid this sort of problem - cracking slabs of concrete. I guess that the tracks are pre-stressed (they will have steel rods through them with hold them in compression). In my meanderings along byways it is quite usual to come across areas of concrete which no longer appear to be used by farmers in the middle of nowhere. (Some could well have been left over from WWII activities).

The sky in the distance looked clear - so no bad weather to have to pass through on my way back to Cambridge.


Cycling through Lode, well on the other side of Lode I noticed this apple tree growing out of the far bank of Bottisham Lode (along Fen Road). The result of a discarded snack?

The first bit of Lodes Way to be constructed and completed was the bit called White Fen - and the Swaffham Bulbeck Lode Bridge. I often see cyclists, walkers and dog walkers now using this path. It seems to take a while to establish an areas as an amenity. I have seen deer here a few times, though normally later on in the evening when the deer think we humans have all gone back to our houses. This is a wonderful route to take at night when it is dark (with decent lights of course).

This is more of a challenge - I can see that some people will want or need (or think they need) to arrive by car. However parking cars in a random fashion will get a few backs up. The dog walker in the previous picture picked an odd spot - it also obscures the signs showing the route for Lodes Way cyclists and walkers.

On my way through to the next new bridge on Lodes Way (over Reach Lode) I stopped to take a picture of this cloud formation. It looked more unusual in real life.

I have a confession to make - there were fences across the Reach lode bridge - with a sign indicating work as in progress - there wasn't though. So I sneaked through. What has appeared is a pole in the middle of the track - so watch out for that when you whizz down the bridge. This time around there were also stands awaiting Information boards.

"You are now entering Burwell Fen - please leave your Tanks behind." After dropping down from Reach Lode Bridge there were two tank traps on the path - the problem is that if you put in decent facilities you then have to protect them against those who would abuse them. I like the signs indicating the names of the Fens dotted along the way though.

As MikeC indicated - the barbed wire fence between the path and the footbridge over Burwell Lode has been removed - no more clambering over. On my way through I did stop for a chat with a cyclist who had cycled from Burwell to Lodes Way via Newnham Drove. He wanted to know if he could cycle over Reach Lode bridge - "yes but" was my answer. We discussed how impressive the new route was and how it was great to get away from the traffic into the Fens. I assume he was a local - but he was not aware of the situation over Burwell Lode. Information takes time to percolate out there - it just does.

I walked my bike up the ramp on the footbridge and stopped to take a few pictures. This is the view of Reach Lode Bridge from Burwell Lode. There seem to be some earthworks taking place still - although these are off the Lodes Way path.

The view up Burwell Lode from the bridge. There are footpaths each side that take you up to Upware.

Then I cycled along the Maltings path (thank you to MikeC for the name of the path.) As you cycle along past Monk's Lode the Wicken Windmill comes into sight.

Another view from the bridge over Monk's Lode looking towards Wicken (the village). I think that this field is up for sale - there was a for sale board near by.

The recent strong winds have been "culling" the odd tree. This picture was also taken from the same spot as the last two - this time looking east down Monk's Lode.

After looping around Wicken Fen I took the Burwell leg of Sustrans 11 along Factory Road. The along North Street - this is a back street but sometimes cars seem to want to bully cyclists out of their way when there are parked cars on the road.

On my way out of Burwell heading towards Reach i though I would check out Newnham Drove - which is indicated as a route to reach the Lodes Way. The drove is a red-dot route.

The drove is actually a road with tarmac, although it looks as if it was once a concrete road that has cracked up and then had a tarmac slayer added and that has also cracked up. It is quite safe and passable - but most unpleasant on a bicycle as there are so many ridges and you get a constant thump-thump as you cycle along it. Will it stop me using it - no of course not, do I expect money to be spent on it - no, I'd rather see better facilities over Burwell Lode. Is it straight? - you bet.

When I reached Lodes Way the gates were closed and locked - so I lifted my bike over the fence and then squeezed through the large gaps in the gate. I assume this the closure is a temporary one and this will also be opened or there will be some suitable form of gate in place by Sunday.

I carried along the drive to Burwell Fen Farm - as I mentioned in another post this is now a few tin sheds. It looks as if it has been used by the construction team as a staging post for their path building work.

Is corrugated iron a thing of the past - it was a common sight in my childhood - nowadays you tend to see old corrugated iron - rusting. as it mentions in the Wikipedia link it was commonly used in rural and military buildings and I guess both types of building are no longer being built in the same numbers as they used to be. Corrugated Asbestos was another popular roofing material for rural buildings as well when I was young.

Back on the Lodes Way I thought I would try out the new benches and cycle stands that have been dotted along the way. (A nice piece of oak there.)

After re-crossing Reach Lode I headed down to Swaffham Prior via Little Fen Drove ( a road) and Black Droveway (a track), As I cycled onto the track there is a big grain store and I thought I could smell bacon frying - a tantalising smell when you are hungry. But I convinced myself that it must be the malty smell of grain drying. Until I turned the corned and tucked away were a couple of Traveller's Caravans tucked away cooking their evening meal - it was bacon and it smelt delicious.

I emerged into the middle of Swaffham Prior on Sustrans 51 which is not so generously signed as is the Lodes Way.In the top right hand corner of the picture you can see the results of Horse chestnuts leaf miner mite.

There have been some new signs (well this one anyway) put along Sustrans 51 out of Cambridge. This sign is where the shared-use cycle path along the Newmarket road takes an underpass to cross the A14 before emerging in Quy. At least I think it is a new sign although it does not mention the Lodes Way route?

After passing through the Newmarket Road P&R the path goes through a field - a couple of days ago it had been ploughed, this time around it had been harrowed.

Once again well done to all those who have made the Lodes Way a reality.


  1. Gate and barns

    It is possible to wriggle bike and person through the gate rather than over, the gap at the back of your back wheel is the largest. Mind you, I've had lot's of practice with that gate. It is supposed to be left open on Sunday, and replaced by removable bollards soon.

    The old barns got the N.T. Architecture Committee very excited when they visited last year. It seems that they are some of the few remaining of a particular wartime construction, very similar to aircraft hangers of the time. Most have been replaced by more modern structures, so these will probably be preserved. I've been told there are more similar at Lords Ground Farm, but they must be behind the more modern packing station buildings next to the road.

  2. It was still closed this afternoon. Mind you so was the bridge. Although there where notices on the Gates out of Wicken Fen indicating the route was open but with some construction left to do.

    I met around 8 cyclists on the new section between the bridges this afternoon - word is getting out, I let them know about the official opening ceremony tomorrow.

    Now you mention it the shed does look a little hanger like.

  3. Lovely pics. I did a bit of Lode's Way a couple of weeks ago and thought it was great - very atmospheric. I hope to do the whole way some time.

    I picked up the Central Cambridgeshire Cycle Map from the tourist office in Cambridge and found the route easily - it's well signposted. I was there on Monday May Bank holiday and it was busy - a lot of families out.

  4. Thank you. I see you cycled up to Hull. When I did it I didn't think about the prevailing wind and got lucky -. For some reason I find it easier to head for home and went from Hull to Cambridge. The route went through some nice countryside though. I liked your picture of the Bridge. I also took a picture of the sheep which is on my summary post of the trip.