Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pictures of a ride from Cambridge to Kings Lynn

Friday, 23rd May 2014: My wife was meeting with her walking buddies, for a birthday celebration (not hers), which involved brunch and Saturday was the only day when they could all make it for a while. So I had a free pass and as the day was not too bad I thought I’d go for a ride. – now there’s a surprise. Although in this case I took a wee picnic with me to eat on the way.

Sometimes I want all my cycling to count towards the distance travelled away rather than a there and back trip. So I generally check out the wind direction and then either cycle towards a distant-ish station, or catch the train and cycle back from the afore-mentioned station.  As it happens you don’t need too many station to cover all points of the compass. In my case Cambridge-King’s Lynn deals with the North-South direction, Cambridge-Ipswich – East-West,  whilst Norwich and Peterborough deal with the mid-points.

Today was points North, my plan was to cycle to King’s Lynn and then catch the train back to Cambridge.  Here is the weather for the day – not bad for cycling, not too windy and no rain. For some reason the Wind direction isn’t reported.

Here is a link to the Bike Route Toaster map. It is a shade under 90Km/56 miles. Although I don’t actually show it as station to station.  It is pretty much flat with a couple of slight rises around Ely and Downham Market – as you might expect – settlements get built where it is less likely to flood. (Well that is how it used to be.)

There isn’t a particularly good way out of Cambridge towards Ely, at least not as the crow flies.  It is a pity they don’t build cycle routes like they used to build railway lines. Straight and avoid nasty hills. When I don’t want to faff around too much I usually head to Swaffham Prior and then Upware.

Just after passing through Swaffham Prior I saw a bunch of jets flying overhead. After first I thought they might be the Red Arrows – but they weren’t red, they were red, white and blue. It was the Patrouille Acrobatique de France.  I think they were practising for the Duxford D-Day 70th Anniversary Airshow 2014.

Patrouille de France above the Fens

Did I mention there were eight of them.

Patrouille de France above the Fens

Whilst waiting for the planes to fly round I took a picture of Church Hill near Reach.

Church Hill in the distance (Reach)

Agriculture is important in the Fens with the appliance of science and technology.

Irrigating Crops in the Fens near Ely

The new railway bridge over the River Great Ouse with inevitable graffiti. On the OS map it is called the Newmarket Bridge, perhaps because the line takes you to Newmarket. Well it did at one time, now it heads to Newmarket but there is a missing loop so you would have to go towards Bury St Edmunds and then head back.

Railway Bridge over the River Great Ouse – “Newmarket Bridge”

Looking at the River Great Ouse from Ely High Bridge

I think that it a Pumping Station on New Ten Mile Drain.

Neat Rows of Potatoes – Ten Mile Bank

One of the challenges of the Fens has been that as technology was used to drain the land the peat would shrink, lowering the level of the land and making it more susceptible to flooding. The land would shrink by up to 5cm a year and so better technology (pumps) were required to lift the water. It was a vicious cycle.

According to the information board, “in 1947, after the worst floods ever recorded, £10.5million and ten years were spent on the Great Ouse Flood Protection Scheme”.  A new relief channel was cut running parallel with the tidal Ouse. The Ouse back to Ely was widened and a cut-off channel was constructed to take water from the Rivers Wissey, Little Ouse and Lark.

Denver Sluice – information board

Great Ouse Relief Channel – from Denver Sluice

Downham Market – and Haygates Flour Mill – from Denver Sluice

This is Nightingale Lane – the route of NCN11 through Denver. It is not so good when wet.

Nightingale Lane – Denver

I stopped for my lunch on Millennium Green, Watlington.  This is a rather delightful way to celebrate the Millennium.  The wildflowers were uplifting.

Millennium Green -  Watlington

Whilst following the OSM map I noticed that the Great Ouse Relief channel gets somewhat cut down at this point in the map. It is an artefact of the open-source approach I would guess. Two mappers were involved and they have coded the channel differently. It doesn’t look like that in real life.

This sluice controls the the Great Ouse Relief Channel’s connection with the River Great Ouse. It is alongside the mothballed power station, just outside King’s Lynn. Apparently it was a victim of high gas prices. (King’s Lynn has also had problems with a Waste Incinerator project – even though it isn’t going ahead it managed to waste money!).

This does seem to allow people to cross as part of the Fen River’s Way. There are motion detectors which trigger a warning about the sluice gates.

Great Ouse Relief Channel Sluice – King’s Lynn

The view back down the Great Ouse Relief Channel

Palm Paper Factory – Kings Lynn

Palm Paper Factory – Kings Lynn

Spot the “selfie”

How much is that cyclist in the window?

The route of NCN11 into King’s Lynn – alongside the River Great Ouse.

Approaching King’s Lynn

King’s Lynn – Quay Area

King’s Lynn Railway Station – on-platform cycle parking

King’s Lyn Railway Station

Bicycles are free, but have no dedicated space, you have to prop them up in doorways.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Rain Dodging–not

Friday, 22nd May 2014:It Friday, its 5 to 5, and its Crackerjack, rainy.  Sometimes you have got to take your chances in those May showers especially on a Poets day.  To tell the truth it wasn’t 5 to 5 either it was earlier than that.  The thing is that as well as showers there was sun so I went for a ride.  Here is the Cambridge DTG recorded weather for the day in question. Although for technical reasons the day didn’t seem to start until midday. There was quite a bit of rain around 4pm though!

So I headed out towards Wicken Fen, but with an eye to the weather I went to Burwell first, because that seemed to be to the edge of the rain clouds. I managed to sneak around Wicken and all with barely a splash. Although more by luck than judgement.

Unfortunately as I headed towards Upware  the clouds looked ominous.

Rain clouds over the Fens

My luck ran out as I reached Upware. The rain was so fierce that I sheltered behind one of the Upware pump buildings. It spared me the worst, but I couldn’t hang around all afternoon, so I set off. The wind picked up and lashed through as I plodded on (in the pedalling sense, since I was actually cycling). I could barely see where I was going as I had my hood pulled well down over my eyes and every now and then I would have a peak. It is a good job the roads weren’t busy.

Then the rain started letting up and had practically stopped by White Fen.

Rain Clouds – already passed over White Fen

Rain helps the spuds grow though

I didn’t hang around after that – I didn’t want another heavy shower.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Half Life of a Blog–mid week thought

Wednesday, 20th May 2014: I have been writing my Blog for coming up to five years. During that time I have followed a mix of different Blogs, mainly to do with cycling, but some about the joy of cycling, some about the area I cycle around a lot (Wicken Fen) and some that either campaign or make observations about cycling. They found there way into my Blog list (at the right hand edge of this post.

It seems to me that many of those Blogs have tailed off, some have stopped as situations change and some have gotten less frequent. So I guess I ought to add a few more to my list.  This helps me to keep up to date and allows readers to jump off onto other Blogs that catch their eye.

I have come to some of these Blogs serendipitously and some I have seen on the Blogs I read and then started reading on and off. As I like pictures the Blog list I use shows a picture from the blog in question, with the most recent post at the top. Rather worryingly I see that the Google Photos Blog was last updated two years ago. I hope this doesn’t mean the Picasa will get dumped by Google.

I did have a quick look to see what there was on the ‘net regarding how long Blogs last for. I came across this post “Top 100 Blogs have an Average Age of 33.8 months”. Which isn’t the answer to my question but given I have been going for longer –my Blog isn’t destined to hit the bit time any time soon, or in fact anytime.

Quora isn’t much more helpful although a comment suggests 60% – 80% are abandoned within one month!

So I have added a few more, although not all of those are that recent, ah well.

And in other good news this was a mid-week ride and I didn’t have much time to spare. So there are only two pictures.

Burwell Lode

There are two posts to prevent motor vehicles using the Reach Lode Bridge on the Lodes Way (over, ye you’ve guessed it, Reach Lode). These were vandalised with a sledgehammer and so a large chunk of concrete was put in place instead. New posts have now been stuck into the base. More on the Rangers’ blog. They have since been painted.

New Bollards between Split Drove and Reach Lode Bridge

And that’s all, for now.

Sneaking off for a ride–the sun was shining

Monday, 19th May 2014: The trouble with working flexible hours is that sometimes weekends get sacrificed. I am not complaining though. I find cycle best when it is pleasantly sunny and not windy. Which means that being able to nip out for a ride, when I feel like it has its distinct advantages. The downside is that life doesn’t have the usual “get up, go to work, come back” clock tick driving it. But I am not complaining.

For a bit of moderately rugged off-road seclusion the Roman Road or Worsted Street is ideal.  Generally the track is good to firm and the land undulates and, surprisingly, it isn’t very busy.  For this ride I joined the Roman Road near Fulbourn, but instead of turning off towards Balsham I carried on to Streetly End. Although the track does become a bridleway and in the wet the hoof prints make for bumpy cycling.

I then cycled along the country lanes to Carlton, before going off-road, intermittently to Wilbraham and then back to Fulbourn.  Here is the Bike Route Toaster link to the map. It is 44Km/28miles in length and rises to a dizzy 121m above sea level – which for these parts is quite high.

Rather surprisingly I saw what looked like an X-Wing Starfighter in the sky in the skies. A “versatile Rebel Alliance Starfighter”.

X-Wing Starfighter above the Cambridgeshire Skies

Here is is in close-up.  It isn’t quite the same. In fact it is a V-22 Osprey. A combination of a helicopter and turboprop plane.  It has two engines mounted on the wings which can tilt upwards to act like a helicopter, but tilt forwards to get the benefits of a plan.  to facilitate the behaviour the props are rather large.

It is used for long-range “Infil” and “Exfil” as part of the U.S. Special Operations Group operated out of Mildenhall.  They can re-fuel inflight and each one costs £43m.  I don’t know whether the engines are synchronised, although according to this and this they are, which is why although each prop has three blades in both cases one blade is in line with the wings.

V-22 Osprey above the Cambridgeshire Skies

Just about to reach the Roman Road from Fulbourn

The Roman Road – great for getting off-road, without being technical

The Bridge over the A11

More Roman Road – it undulates pleasantly

The Roman Road – singletrack?

As you go further east the terrain gets a bit rumpled.

The view from the Roman Road

After the Balsham Turning it becomes more of a grass farm track.

The Roman Road – after Balsham

At the next junction after Balsham it turns from a byway into a bridleway. You can also wash your steed’s wheels in the ford.

The Roman Road crosses a ford

There is also a bridge – which I used – those cobbles look to gnarly for my 25mm tyres.

The Aforementioned Ford

The hills still undulate – look at all those crops growing.

The View from the Roman Road, near Streetly Hall

The Roman Road undulates a bit as well

The Old Linton Water Tower from the Streetly end of the Roman Road

The Wadlow Wind Farm from the Streetly end of the Roman Road

The turn to Streetly Hall – the Roman Road carries straight on (and up)

As you get close to Streetly End and Horseheath the Roman Road becomes a Roman “Pavement” – presumably the soldiers went in single file!

This bit can get a bit soggy and is used as a bridleway by horse riders. I have never actually met horse riders but there are some some hoof prints.

Roman Road Singletrack

There were quite a few air bases dating from World War 2, in this part of the UK, owing to its proximity and relative flatness. RAF Wratting Common was one such base.

Memorial – RAF Wratting Common

St Peter’s Church – Carlton

Roodhall Lane (Carlton end)

River Stour – Ford – Brook Lane

Wadlow Wind Farm – from Brook Lane

The View along Brook Lane

Bridleway to Grange Road

A Fire – Crick’s Farm

Wadlow Wind Farm – again

Approaching Grange Road

There used to be a thick hedgerow along the trackside.

Railway Line Crossing – Westley Bottom