So it was, after another Internet search, that I booked a return ticket to Ely for £9.20 and duly boarded an early train last Thursday, complete with Dahon bike and wet weather gear, for the forecast was not good in spite of a short spell of long-awaited Summer weather over the preceding days.
Bang on cue, the rain came down as I left home and on arriving at Derby Railway Station I was already wet through, but dried out during the 2 hour and 48 minute journey to find on arrival that it was not raining in Ely.
The surrounding landscape is not only flat, but generally not much above sea level, and most of the
pretty Cambridgeshire villages are built on what passes for hills, and were in fact, islands set in the marshes until Dutch engineers were brought along to drain the fens five hundred years ago.
My planned ride of 45 miles was taken from an excellent Philips book "Cycle Tours Norfolk and Suffolk" although most of the ride was actually in Cambridgeshire, and from Ely went NE to Chatteris, returning by way of the many small villages to the North of Ely. Cutting a SW to NE swathe across the circle are the drainage dykes and canalised rivers which drain the land into the River Great Ouse and on to The Wash at the delightfully named village of Wiggenhall St. Germans, South of King's Lynn.
The Hundred Foot Drain/ River Delph/ Bedford River have few crossing points, so no chance of short cutting the route, save that of pole vaulting across as suggested by a "friend" (?).
Most of the villages have these beautifully crafted signs on the village green, this one, in particular, at Sutton, illustrating the heritage of the village standing on an island surrounded by marshland and having lots of wildlife.
The first bridge was at Sutton Gault where these horses were grazing beside the water.
|A picture for Mavis and Yvonne.|
On then towards Chatteris, the largest village/town on the route, passing enormous fields of arable crops, some growing enough potatoes to supply all the chip shops in the UK for months.
Irrigation of the growing crops is evidence of the low average rainfall in these parts (but not today!).
|Expensive high tech automatic irrigation equipment increases the yield on this gigantic field of potatoes.|