Monday, 13 September 2010

Opening of the Reach Lode Bridge

One of the most enjoyable bike rides out of Cambridge is to the fine fenland city of Ely.  Famed for its cathedral, it has some decent pubs and restaurants along the riverside and also boasts an excellent bookshop.  Since there are good rail connections between the two cities, leisure riders can cycle to Ely, spend a good part of the day there and then take the train back in the evening.  With yesterday's opening of the bridge over Reach Lode and the associated cycleway, much more of this journey can now be undertaken on quiet lanes and off-road cycle tracks.

To mark this event, on Sunday Sustrans organised a bike ride from Ely to the opening event at Reach Lode.  Ca. 50 riders gathered outside the front of the cathedral and after a short safety talk departed at 11:15.  Cyclists from different organisations, age ranges and degrees of lycraness took part and there was a fair amount of good-natured bantering and discussion as we made our way out of Ely towards Wicken Fen.

The weather was delightful, allowing us to enjoy the famously large Fenland sky and spot wildlife such as cormorants and roe deer.  From Wicken Fen we were cycling along the Lodes Way - a 14km route designed to provide clear access for cyclists and walkers south to the village of Bottisham and passing close to Anglesea Abbey.  This route has been largely funded by Sustrans using funds it received from the Lottery Fund in 2007.

At Reach Lode we met other cyclists and walkers who had started out from places including Cambridge, Wicken Fen and Anglesea Abbey.  Altogether there were about 200 of us.  After speeches on behalf of the National Trust and Sustrans, the official opening ceremony was conducted by representatives from the nearby communities of Burwell, Lode, Reach and Wicken. 

After the opening most folk stayed around for a picnic and staff from the National Trust were on hand to explain their plans for managing Burwell Fen.  Some parts of this Fen are two metres below sea level and the impending construction of a clay bund will facilitate the establishment of wet grassland habitats.

The Reach Lode bridge is a genuine boon for walkers, horse-riders and cyclists from Cambridge, Ely and adjoining villages.  What's needed now is a proper cycle / bridleway link from Waterbeach to the Lode Way. Mr T has it on good authority that the National Trust are trying to achieve just such a link and are in communication with a currently reticent landowner.

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