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.


  1. Swaffham Bulbeck CyclistAugust 28, 2014 at 9:52 PM

    Lovely to see Watlington Millennium Green looking good. I'm glad you enjoyed going there- I was involved helping the village set it up all those (14!) years ago.

    It is a great route that, though I normally peel off at Watlington to head north east to the Wells area (by-passing Lynn). I've often wondered what the route's like past the power station, I must give it a go one day.

    I hope the new rolling stock on the King's Lynn line will be bike friendly. I really like the current set up where you prop your bike up by the door as you say (remembering to do so on the correct side of course!) as there's plenty of room. It means trains can happily carry loads of bikes without issue. I hope it won't become like the East Midlands trains set up, with no space by the doors and only a tiny bike capacity in one carriage.

    1. I am impressed with the Green, you did an excellent job. It was a delightful place to stop and have my lunch. It is a great pity there aren't more such places around and about.

      I cycled along Long Drove from Waterbeach the other day after you gave me the idea. It was rather strange cycling in an area I know quite well - but from a completely different perspective. Seeing Upware from the other bank was weird. I do like cycling along news roads/tracks though.

  2. Swaffham Bulbeck CyclistSeptember 1, 2014 at 1:07 PM

    There's another Millennium Green at Horningsea too, it is the closest one to Cambridge.

    Long Drove is aptly named! I like to do that ride when the hyacinths are out on that chap's land near Waterbeach.

    I haven't been out much recently on liesure rides, and annoyingly I note I rode 297 miles in August. If I'd have known that last night, I'd have popped out for a quick 3 miler !

    I hope to get out more this month so hopefully there'll soon be another meet up of the Lodes Way Irregulars soon!

    1. I must remember to cycle along Long Drove next year when the hyacinths are out. I rather like seeing fields full of flowers.

      I bumped into MikeC for the first time in a while on Sunday and caught up on things including the Solar Farm near Burwell. We also both commented we hadn't seen you around - work does sometimes get in the way of cycling.

      Still you clocked up a decent number of miles.