Fenland can be a disorienting place – with its 360° horizon, black earth, wide waterways and immense skies – but the National Cycle Network’s Route 11 is there to guide you from Cambridge to Ely on traffic free lanes and byways. So it was that eleven hardy Windmillers set off for Ely, a return trip of 40 miles or so, on a cold Thursday in April.
There was plenty to see along the way. Not only do the fens contain around half the grade 1 agricultural land in England but they are also home to herds of deer and rare breeds of cattle and ponies, while the numerous locks, sluices, pumps and dykes keep the waters of the Great Ouse and the North Sea at bay.
Along the way we pulled in for refreshment at Wicken Fen, the National Trust reserve where herds of free roaming konik ponies and highland cattle help create new habitats for wildlife. Their grazing keeps the landscape open and encourages the growth of wetland and grassland plants.
It was here that Charles, Chris, Geoff and Ken peeled off and headed for home, leaving Andrew, Brian, Deborah, Howard, Martin, Sandra and Simon to continue on towards Ely.
We enjoyed a splendid lunch at Peacocks Tearoom and Howard, this week’s birthday boy, bought the drinks.
It was as we were putting our helmets on for the return trip that Deborah got goosed – quite literally – by a goose that crept up from behind and pecked her on the bum, to much hilarity all round.
The return leg was thankfully somewhat warmer and Martin, Sandra, Brian and Howard pulled up for yet more refreshment at Anglesey Abbey, while Andrew, Deborah and Simon headed on back to Cambridge.
Thanks are due to Andrew for planning the outing and Howard, top chap, for buying the drinks.
Best wishes also to Simon as he is taking his Spanish GCSE exam later this week; good luck!
And finally, if you want to read about our last visit to Ely, some three years ago, see here.