Saturday, September 29, 2012

A ride around the Deepings: 2nd Leg– Crowland to Spalding

Thursday, 6th September 2012: This is the fourth part of my ride around The Deepings, it started with Part1: Planning a ride around the Deepings, followed by Part 2: Getting There from Peterborough Station, Part 3: 1st Leg Glinton to Crowland.  This covers the second leg from Crowland Spalding. The main reason I have broken the Posts about the ride into sections is because it makes it easier to get the Posts written – all in all I selected 69 pictures for inclusion in the posts.

I have been to Spalding once or twice, although not by bicycle. I think of it as a place with flowers growing commercially in the fields and its flower festival. The Visit Spalding website uses the tagline “flowers food festivals” and “Spalding is a bustling Georgian Market Town set around the picturesque River Welland.”  The Spalding Flower Parade apparently attracts over 100,000 visitors. Wikipedia’s entry for Spalding refers to a market town of 30,000 people. Apparently on the 7th October 1979, the first barcode was used in the UK at Key markets in Spalding.

This leg of the ride is about 15.4Km/9.6miles and pretty much follows the River Welland into Spalding. If you zoom in to the map around Crowland you will see loads of very small roads leading off – I chose to take the NCN route – well the NCN route marked on the OS map, surprisingly it has not yet made its way onto the OSM map yet. It does appear on the Sustrans map though. I tend to rely on the OSM cycle map and not check the Sustrans map. If I had then I would have been forewarned that the track (NCN12) between what Peakirk (near Glinton) and Crowland  has “become potholed and uneven” – not too badly yet though.

Maybe next time I should visit the towns on the ride, this time I didn’t and headed straight out of Crowland along the B1166 – Gravel Causeway. Immediately after crossing the River Welland I turned right and cycle along a road with no name. (Actually there is a name – it just appears further along the road than I looked – Welland Bank)As you can see the River Welland has gotten a lot wider over the last few miles.

NCN12 – The river Welland, near Crowland

As a quick refresher here is the map of my ride starting in Peterborough, I cycled to Ely from Cambridge and caught the train to Peterborough. However you could catch a train from Cambridge to Peterborough or even to Spalding Spa Here is the Bike Route Toaster link to that map, the route as marked is 82Km/51 miles in length.

Map of my ride from Peterborough to the Deepings Ride and back

As I have mentioned the Deepings ride is very flat, this section of the ride has a start elevation of 3m, a finish elevation of 3m, a minimum elevation of 3m and just for a change a maximum elevation of 3m.  As a result the landscape stretches on for mile. These wind turbines are situated around Deeping St Nicholas (DSN) – a place that has yet to find its way on the OSM maps I’m afraid but it must exist it has a website and a Wikipedia entry which refers to the Wind turbines but omits a date for when they were erected. According to the DSN Wind turbines website the construction started in May 2005 and it was completed in 2006. There are 8 turbines each with a rating of 2MW.

This Wind Farm has been the subject of a noise dispute – it was settled out of court. Although there appears to be another dispute arising from the same family arising from proposals to install another wind farm  “The Delph Wind Farm” (with nine turbines) near Spalding.

Deeping St Nicholas and Wind Farm

As I cycled, still with more benefit form the wind than not I was pleased to be out on a nice day – the area would have been a lot bleaker in pouring rain.  The fields around here seemed huge  - much larger than in the Fens around Cambridge! They also still have a fair bit of harvesting left to do. With the Wind Farm such a visible land mark there were times when I seemed to be making no progress at all.

Deeping St Nicholas and Wind Farm

the road i was one was a single track road, with passing places. There was also a bra shop ahead. It also had the characteristic undulations of country roads built on fenland. It was a quite road, I did see a few cars, but not many.  There are jokes about Fen people many underserved. However he we seem to have to pursuits of rural folk captured in one picture.  In the background, the road surface shows what seems to be the result of a burnt out car. In the foreground signs of signs being used for shotgun target practice. There is even a website that looks at this problem – Gunfire Graffiti UK. Apparently most attacks are nearside shooters as is the case here.

Neither pursuit is particularly cyclist-friendly. Although “Fenland people may be ‘encouraged less to have sex’” – which might be a long-term solution to both problems.

Gunfire Graffiti – NCN12, between Crowland and Spalding alongside the River Welland

What was it I was saying about the fields going on for ever… This field of bales awaiting collection is pretty big – I reckon there are almost 200 bales in that there field.

Bales in a field awaiting collection – NCN12, between Crowland and Spalding

Although there are quite a few roads and towns and villages around, it does also seem to be an isolated part of the countryside. Which is strange – maybe it is because of my lack of familiarity. I did pass a few houses that looked as if the owners had abandoned them 0 including this rather nice farm.

This appears on the map as Congreaves Farm, the land around is farmed so I wonder it either the farmer built a new farmhouse, or the farm got subsumed into a larger farm – and you only need one farmyard per farm? (Or maybe it is in use and I made a mistake.)  There are farms (and buildings) on either side of it – Gull House Farm and Victoria Farm.

Congreaves Farm, Welland Bank

Another problem that afflicts the fens – roads that split longitudinally. I think there there are two possible reasons for this type of problem. One is that the roads were originally narrower and in the Cambridge Fens were often built using concrete, later they have been widened and do not have the same foundation at the edges as they do in the middle. The other possible problem is that these roads also carry grain lorries and tractors and milk lorries which are all relatively wide and heavy.

Longitudinal Splits in the Road – Welland Bank

Not much further up the road was this new-looking foot bridge over the River Welland. It leads to St Guthlac’s Cross – the old bridge was replaced by this one in 2007.

Four Mile Bar Footbridge – River Welland

After passing the bridge I turned another corner and joined Cradge bank Road. I also realised something slightly odd about my GPS. Normally when cycling I have the zoom factor set quite high on the map display. That way I get to see more detail on the GPS map and can work out where I am going more easily.

That is even more the case when I am following a course loaded onto the GPS. The strange thing was whenever I was not looking the map would zoom out and I would cycle along thinking the turn should be coming up in another 50m or 100m or so – but no turn turned up. In this part of Lincolnshire the map looked sort of similar at different scales – there were not suddenly heaps more roads appears.

I would then zoom the map in and realise that the turn was not 50m ahead but 500m ahead. After keeping an eye on it I realised it was auto-zooming – it took me a while longer – a week or so before I realised that you could turn off the auto-zoom – which I have now done.

The good thing was even though I had turned the corner, towards Spalding the wind was still only across me. The fields seemed to get even bigger though. The road had also changed name it was now Cradge Bank Road.

Even wider skies and larger fields – flatlands of Lincolnshire – NCN12 near Spalding
Cradge Bank Road

Once again I didn’t stop in Spalding – although next time I really ought to take a look. I cycled around the outskirts and past the more industrial areas. I then cut across a housing estate – and got really confused with my GPS telling me to turn and the turns were cut-throughs between roads. I made it out of Spalding in the end though. My route was taking me along Horseshoe Road. A road that was off the beaten Sustrans track it was going to be more into the wind though.

Sad smile

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