Thursday, 22 January 2015

Bamburgh at New Year

At the New Year I was lucky enough to share a house with friends in the north-easterly town of North Sunderland, whose coastal area is the more famous Seahouses. This is the location of the great historic rescue by Grace Darling on the Farne Islands.

During our time there we had mostly great weather, including some windy, windy days (great for beach walks) and some fantastic sun-bathed days (also windy). I found the time to take 2 bike rides taking in the sites from this part of the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. as well as being more socialable and going on 3 lovely walks. Some of the photos and clips have captured a bit of this fantastic light.

Anyway, this is the area map, with a few details. Click here to see the map bigger.

Map includes my ride in blue, NCN1 in yellow, Bamburgh Castle, Seahouses Pier, Doddington Moor walk, and St Cuthberts Cave walk

The rides provided some stunning views. I took photos along the way as well as taking screen captures from the video footage. The clips and photos are below.

The walks on Doddington Moor and to St Cuthbert's Cave also gave some stunning views. Doddington Moor has a number of ancient Cup and Ring markings with some description here. St Cuthbert's Cave also is full of history as well as good views nearby.Visit Northumberland also says that:
It is reputed that the monks of Lindisfarne brought St. Cuthbert’s body to this place to rest for a short period in AD875 following Viking raids on the Island and the subsequent abandonment of the saxon monastery.

I've put all those photos here from those two walks, along with a windy beach walk to Bamburgh Castle and here are a few highlights.

St Cuthberts Cave

Doddington Moor

Seahouses Beach


The rides were fun, and the latter quite windy! I did the first one anti-clockwise and used the road along the sea between Seahouses and Bamburgh. This gave some fantastic views of Bamburgh Castle as I got nearer and nearer. It was marred a touch by too many close passes by people driving, I just didn't let that get at my enjoyment. Here are the photos from that.

The beach north of Seahouses, looking north

Distant View of the Farne Islands

Bamburgh Castle from distance

Bamburgh Castle from the edge of the village

Bamburgh Castle last distant view

Bike shadow

Bamburgh Castle close up

Bamburgh Castle close up

Bamburgh Castle close up

Bamburgh Castle from the village green

And here are some of the stills from the video footage.

Sea view from North side of Seahouses

Bamburgh Castle distant from south

Bamburgh Castle close up

Bamburgh Castle close up

Then, I made my way inland, catching NCN1 for a little while, then back south along some very frosty lanes. This. This gave an added excitement of taking it very carefully on slippy-looking surfaces. I skidded only once as I was stopping by stupidly turning the front wheel slightly too much at 5mph and sliding for a foot until I stopped. Also, picking lines through ice puddles avoiding going on surface that might crack or large lumps of broken up ice.

Bike Shadow

Icy Puddle

Slushy puddle and shadow

Here's the ride in full. There's no need to watch it all, unless you wanty a nice relax, I've linked places of interest below.

Maximise for HD & turn the sound up or down, depending on your preference!

The first ride

00:29 Seahouses
00:44 Coastal View
01:15 Bamburgh Castle Distant View
02:44 Bamburgh Castle View
03:45 Bamburgh Castle Close View
04:15 Bamburgh Village
04:55 Sunny Inland Route
07:03 Turning South
08:44 Icy Puddle
09:35 Slight Skid
11:15 Turning Back onto NCN1
14:11 Credits

Later Ride

Later on I got to do the route again, this time clockwise. There was a ferocious south-westerly wind and I wanted to get that bit out of the way first. It was hard just going along at 8mph! In this first bit I also found a farmer doing their traditional winter work of hedge trimming. They were good to stop for me to pass, although I pretty sure I picked up a slow puncture here.

Here are some stills from the video footage.

Tractor trimming

Once turning north, the wind had changed to being directly across me, hindering me by blowing me across the road. However, there was some great shadow pictures!

Bike Shadow

I also found a car behind me at one point. This is a narrow road and there really isn't space to just pass. The driver seemed to get this, possibly because I was quite a long way out from the hedge, controlling the lane. I didn't want to hold them up as it spoils both our enjoyment. So I found a good place, checking the road surface ahead for a good 100 yards, and pulled over signalling the driver to come past. All went very well!

Signalling Driver to pass

Car passing close but planned

Car passed fine

Finally, turning back towards the coast and Bamburgh Castle and I got the benefit of the wind! The road gave fantastic long distance views of the castle as it was going directly towards it. I decided to go all the way into the village to get the castle close up once more.

Bamburgh Castle distant from East

Bamburgh Castle close up

Finally, I turned back through the village and headed for the NCN1 route south towards North Sunderland, simply to avoid the sea front road with it's rushing drivers. It's longer distance and time-wise, but quieter and less hassled.

Maximise for HD & turn the sound up or down, depending on your preference!

The last ride

00:24 Onto NCN1 going south-west
03:15 Passing a Hedge Trimming Tractor
04:10 Turning westwards off NCN1
06:30 Earlier Skid Corner, Easier Now
07:35 Earlier Icy Puddle, Easier Now
08:35 Car Passing
09:35 Turning Back Towards Coast
10:25 Bamburgh Castle from the West
11:00 Bamburgh Castle Slightly Closer
11:15 Bamburgh Village
11:30 Bamburgh Castle Close Up
11:42 Back into Bamburgh
12:05 NCN1 Route Back to North Sunderland
16:00 Credits

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

New South Cambridgeshire Cyclepaths

One of the issues of cycling in Cambridgeshire is that whilst the town is relatively (to the UK) well provided, the county is less so. Some may say "Why bother? There's not many out in the villages." without spotting that Cambridgeshire has large locations of employment where people need to commute.

One example of this is the Babraham Institute, south of Cambridge and just north of the village of Babraham. With road speeds of 60 mph on the connecting A1307, an off-road route is vital to give any people wanting to ride the confidence to do so safely.

This first clip shows travelling all the way along Hills Road from Addenbrookes to the Babraham Institute,who have been very helpful in creating this route. There's a number of old route clear up issues still to iron out, some maintenance practices that ought to be considered (gritting and hedge-cutting/clearing), and taking the route further.

This second clip is of the official opening ride, starting from Wandlebury and overlapping the first clip a bit. It also goes on to show the issues of the next bit of infrastructure, from creating a path through the Babraham Institute,which needs carful negotiation, to working with a local farm or two to improve surfaces, and to looking at a bridge which could prove expensive to update for all bike users. It also goes onto looking at the new path next to the A505, a vital link from the Granta Park, another big employment centre, into Sawston.

Huntingdon Road

This is one of the main roads in Cambridge being trialled with new protected lanes. There is broad support for this, although some concerns with local parking and where the scheme ends, dropping people in a poor cycling environment.

Whatever happens, it has to be better than the current provision. This clip shows how poor the on-road cycle provision is with the following.
  • regular abuse of the infrastructure by people driving
  • regular poor passing by people driving
  • poor infrastructure putting users in more danger

Hills Road Car vs Bike

I had a look at travelling along the outer section of Hills Road, comparing ease of movement by car and bike. The clip shows that cars are no faster average speed over the distance than a bike. Because their peak speeds need a vast amount of space, this causes congestion when they have to interact with other routes.

Many people are put off riding by the traffic around them. And yet they are helping to cause their own congestion as a result. Putting protected lanes up may counter this vicious cycle worry (less people ride, more people drive, the more cycling looks less pleasant!).

Many people are put off riding by the weather at times. At yet car commuting is doing more damage to them than awkward weather ever possibly could. And even the reason why awkward weather is seen as an issue is that it's simply not experienced. Once experienced, people find it's not as bad as they thought because their cossetted liftstyle failed to give them the right impression.

Here are a few information pictures.

Allowing the space for peak speed travel means cars take up over 10 times the space of the same person on a bike, without changing their average speed. Black =car, Red=parking space, yellow=stopping distance at 30mph.

Reducing peak speeds, reduces the space needed by people in cars, thus reducing congestion

The private car is the least efficient method of transporting people

Car Commuting isn't good for your personal wellbeing

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Tour de France 2014 Yorkshire Stage Two

After the joy of watching Stage One in Masham, the next day was to the joy of the first climb of the day, Côte de Blubberhouses (the Guardian's take on French Yorkshire climbs).


The journey there this time managed to get more convoluted than stage one's in that we tacked on a walking section. I was keen to ride, having a penchant for off-roading, but when I saw the height of the bracken I sharply changed my views.

View Pateley Bridge to Blubberhouses in a larger map

The car journey was quite dull, apart from going up past Two Stoops on Naught Bank Road. Luckily I've got that here from another time, just so you don't get to miss out.

The really useful thing here is that the nearby Thrusscross Reservoir has a visitors car park. It wasn't quite full when we got there, just because many people where using the verges for the next mile until the road closed sign. And there was even a car park at the end of that. We stuck to our plan, always a good idea not to dither! It was only a short hill to start!

Click on the square box bottom right to get full screen, well worth it!

Again, our seven year old make short shrift of the slope. Then, lots more parking space! In fact so much, one of our cars is here. Cars are passing, along with faster riders. None too fast or close making it a great riding experience.

And then, the end of the cars! Stopped cars get passed and we head up towards the race through the road closed signs. Although that didn't seem to stop some car drivers, not quite sure why, but heh, still slowed considerably by lots of walking people, also our main concern. I'd suggest that we are still quicker than any car passing us by now. We'll get to the viewing points much quicker than them!

We had scouted out a good place to see the race. Not right on the road side but with a view of over a mile of racing up to the King of the Mountains line. The hillside was scattered with people who'd also thought the same thing. Luckily it was a big hillside! And the whole place came alive, much like yesterday in Masham. People where cheering, despite there being no chance of it carrying to the road side. Except that it was loud enough with enough people that it did.

Anyway it was a short while until the publicity caravanne made it's way along our section. I'm not sure if quite such a bizarre view has been seen nestling in the Yorkshire ferns.

Right click to get full screen, well worth it! Full directory on Flickr.

Then onto waiting again. Lunchtime, talking, a picnic, games, it seemed to become a day out with friends on a summer's Sunday. Surrounded by thousands. Also in the bracken. With a lot of bicycles.

The mela was punctuated with the odd "Ooo" and "Ahh" as vehicles passed on the below road. I did that "I know what's happening, no need to do anything yet" nonchalance and lounged around with a pork pie for company. Well, that and the others trying to get at the pork pie.

Time passed easily and, taking me by surprise, the escapees appeared.

Right click to get full screen, well worth it! Full directory on Flickr.

We watched the few riders and plethora of support cars as they raced for the top. Well, raced-ish. It wasn't a fantastic challenge as the riders seemed to focus on trying to get all the way to the finish and not waste energy on scraping for the morsels of a category 4 climb.

And back to waiting. This time I stood and surveyed the horizon. This time I'm looking for helicopters, the first sign of the main race coming through. Then, three dots appeared which rapidly swelled to five rolling around the countryside. Now, four of these are carrying VIP guests, only one is the TV. It becomes obvious with it's positioning and a big bulb under the front housing the camera. As it passed it went right over us, filming the crowd on the hillside. It was close!

Right click to get full screen, well worth it! Full directory on Flickr.

In fact it was so close as can be seen from this video from the other side of the road. We're near the rock opposite down the valley, and the helicopter is just above us!

Yes, yes, I know, there's a biek race going on, what's happening. Here they are coming up the valley.

Right click to get full screen, well worth it! Full directory on Flickr.

And finally cresting the King of the Mountains.

Right click to get full screen, well worth it! Full directory on Flickr.

And with that, it was just time to head back. This time as everyone wanted to head back at the same times, the roads were a little crammed. It was great to see so many different bikes, in slow motion. Notice that the real way to clog up a road completely is to use a car when there's so many others around. They are going at walking pace slowing everyone. Simply, they would have got out quicker by pulling over, waiting ofr it to clear, then trying.

Click on the square box bottom right to get full screen, well worth it!

And back in the car, at the end, where the roads have opened up. Everyone else stayed up in Yorkshire whilst I hit the A1 south to get to my home town of Cambridge to see the joys of the start of Stage Three. Another adventure to come! Last thing that day was this sighting on the way home.

Right click to get full screen, well worth it! Full directory on Flickr.