Recent diary entries
Second trip to Huntingdon on Friday. The area each side of the northern ring road is industrial estates, some of which had already been done in outline, but to which I was able to add a lot of detail. Then across the railway and we enter shoppers paradise: a massive Tesco, a couple of other retail estates with all the usual shops, and a leisure park which could have been anywhere - an almost identical combination of cinema, gym and fast good outlets as in Cambridge around a massive car park. Then into a housing maze, apparently called Oxmoor, the kind of estates where there is an almost independent footway network linking it all up with car access along scrappy roads to the rear - indeed there is a rather good green swathe running down the middle with a very decent cycleway which looks like it leads all the way into Huntingdon town centre, though not joined up on this occasion. Around Coneygear Road (what a peculiar name), the footway network is elevated and crosses all the suburban residential streets on bridges. Then into the thin in-fill wedge between the eastern ring road and the parallel Sapley Road, which is a much wealthier area of gabled new homes defined by the developers notion of "kerb appeal".
Started systematic work on Huntingdon yesterday. Huntingdon is a market town of about 20,000 people so it will take four or five trips to complete. As everywhere there is lots of new housing development on the margins, so it's possibly more than that now, and there are the neighbouring villages of Godmanchester and Brampton that would make sense to do as I go (Brampton looks superficially as if it might be complete, but even reaching the Huntingdon edge of it I can now see that it isn't).
This first session covered Hinchingbrooke (that part of the town west of the A14 trunk road with lots of public building - police HQ, fire HQ, hospital, forensic lab; and a huge country park with a decent enough cafe which I arrived at at just the right time for lunch) and Stukeley Meadows (a boring housing estate in the north west sector of the town which pretentiously names most of its culs-de-sac after lakes in the Lake District). It must be terrible living in either of these bits because they are boxed in by two of the busiest roads in East Anglia, and I was conscious of loud traffic noise all the time. That and the East Coast Main Line railway bisecting it with 225km/h trains every ten minutes.
By the way I hope you get better soon Matthew. I say this because the key bit that was already done was Hinchingbrooke Hospital and the roads leading to it!
I was going to make a start Huntingdon on Tuesday, but it was so hot I thought cycling round a town wasn't going to be particularly pleasant, so instead I filled in some rural holes either side of the A1198 Ermine Street, the Royston to Huntingdon road, and completed:
- Bassingbourn barracks (what of it I could do without infringing the "restricted place as defined by the Official Secrets Act")
- Wimpole village (stopped for lunch at the National Trust's Wimpole Hall, but that's been pretty thoroughly done already)
- Arrington (had had some attention, but was not previously complete)
- Croydon (ditto)
- Steeple Morden (had had some attention but was disappointingly arbitrary in what had been done)
- Ashwell (which is over the border in Hertfordshire)
- Odsey (Ashwell & Morden Station)
Ashwell's a pleasant place, but bigger than I was expecting (pop. about 1700) at the end of a long hot day, and on the side of a hill too. But it seemed silly not to finish it since I was there, so I was a bit later back than I intended.
Completed Royston, Hertfordshire today with the central area and the housing estates off London Road, Barkway Road and south of Newmarket Road. It was a gorgeous day for cycling, but quite tough as well, as this part of Royston climbs as you leave the town centre. This means that every time I left a housing estate spine road, dead end spurs go steeply down or up so I was continually and unavoidably gaining height and and losing it again straight away. Nevertheless, 3.5 hours was enough to finish off the town.
The inability to get Landsat data in JOSM is hampering me somewhat with getting good outlines for some of the extensive woodlands on the south eastern edge of town and the southern edge of Therfield Heath to the west of the town. I've guessed for now.
There's still some surveyed streets awaiting upload by Daniel in the north-east, north of the railway.
Daniel Glassey and I started on Royston, Hertfordshire, yesterday, a market town of some 15,000 people (probably more now as there is a lot of new housing since the 2001 census). We completed the northern part of the town, north of the old A505 road, the old Icknield Way roman road. That leaves about a third to do (the hilly part!) next week hopefully.
Friday last week was one of the longest mapping days I'd done - folding bike on the bus to Newmarket, then along the upper reaches of the Suffolk river Kennett and down the Stour, mapping the following villages on the western edge of Suffolk bordering on the Eastern edge of Cambridgeshire I completed in the previous two weeks. Then bus back from Haverhill. Over 90km on the bike, but a beautiful day to be out and some delightful villages en route.
So, added 10 villages (ok, pretty small ones on the whole) and several hamlets:
- Moulton (ancient pack horse bridge)
- Dalham (did they have to put the church on its own at the top of a 1km dead-end climb!)
- Lidgate (lovely duck pond!)
- Cowlinge (and its satellites: Hobbles Green, Mill Green and Lambfair Green)
- Great Bradley
- Little Bradley
- Great Thurlow
- Little Thurlow
- Great Wratting (though turned out to be mostly done - but added the huge factory and Stour river bridge)
(the tiny Little Wratting was completely done already, only the name of the church to add).
On Friday, surveyed the villages of Cheveley, Ashley, Kirtling (and Kirtling Green and Upend) and Saxon Street all in East Cambridgeshire district south of Newmarket, but it's taken until today to find time to do the plotting. This completes this pocket of Cambridgeshire south of Newmarket giving continuity right down the eastern edge of Cambs.
Problems with the N810 again - it keeps going off. I suspect the battery contacts aren't quite tight enough so there's a momentary loss of power when I go over a bump. I've bent them a little bit to make better contact, and I'll have to see if I can pout some damping in the handlebar bracket somehow.
Got rather sunburned on Monday filling in a big group of villages on the far south-eastern corner of Cambridgeshire between Newmarket and Haverhill on the Suffolk border. Managed to crash my N810 and lots the tracks so I had to redo the first hour. Ho hum. However this trip means that the whole of the eastern side of South Cambs is now complete.
In South Cambridgeshire:
Carlton (and Carlton Green)
In East Cambridgeshire:
Woodditton (and Ditton Green & Little Ditton)
And still remaining to do in this pocket of East Cambs:
Cheveley (and Saxon Street & Broad Green)
Kirtling (and Kirtling Green)
Went for a longish bike ride today and on the way took in the village of Little Thetford, just west of the River Cam between Cambridge and Ely. Though only small, it is significantly the only settlement along the A10 not mapped until now between the two cities, which means we now have complete mapping all the way from Saffron Walden in the south to Littleport in the north (a distance of some 65km) and from Melbourn and Papworth in the west to Newmarket in the east (some 45km, though it narrows down a lot at the northern end).
On the other side of the river, after following the already mapped NCN11 from Ely to Wicken, added the fen drove road between Wicken and Swaffham Prior via the little village of Upware also completes a nice big section - I had already plotted this road approximately from NPE (and it wasn't far off), but I had no detail for Upware itself - not least the Five Miles From Anywhere pub on the riverbank where a pint of Guiness went down a treat on this beautifully warm and sunny day.
Third and final trip to Saffron Walden on Friday, changes now uploaded. Saffron Walden now complete. Nothing of any great note in the area that remained to be filled in, except that SW has horrendous traffic problems for a place of its size, and despite the fact that the M11 bypasses the twon, and even the old A11 trunk road also bypasses the town. Everywhere there were queues, and the one-way system doesn't help that much. Where is everyone going in the middle of a Friday? It's a town where you could walk from one end to the other in half an hour, yet everyone seems to drive everywhere all the time.
To finish off this delightfully sunny day I surveyed the much pleasanter rolling hills west of SW to fill in a hole this side of the Cambs-Essex border containing the small villages of Strethall (which seems to be the church and not much else), Elmdon and Littlebury Green. This means that everything north of the B1039 SW to Royston Road is now complete right up to Cambridge and beyond, and north east of SW as far as the edge of Haverhill.
Royston, Hertfordshire, should perhaps be my next target.
Second trip to Saffron Walden on Friday. Completed the whole east side of the town and a swathe across the south. One more trip will complete the remaining south central and south-west parts of the town. Hopefully there'll be some time over to go back via Strethall and Elmdon and fill in that missing section of the ridge between SW and Royston (though they are such small villages, most of it is done already from NPE).
Started out from Linton and biked down the B road through Hadstock and Little Walden collecting details on the way, so this trip also significantly extends coverage south eastwards into Essex.
Plagued by wind noise on my microphone, so I missed one or two street names in SW which I'll have to go back to - unfortunately both in opposite extremities of the town.
Started work on Saffron Walden yesterday, an Essex market town of about 15,000 people. Completed the town centre (north of George Street) and the north side of the town above Ashdon Road. That's about one third of the town so I think two more trips should do it.
I started the day on the little village of Wendens Ambo, though it was bigger than I thought, and rather short on street name signs. A bit remains to be done on Royston Road east of the station: the village is actually the location of Audley End railway station which has a huge car park, so all that's done now. Then moved on to Littlebury, a medium size village a few km north west of Saffron Walden. The bare bones were there but with errors. Once again a couple of streets with no visible name - frustrating - but otherwise now complete.
Landsat and npe helped my to get the outline of the Audley End Estate and woodland, but I'll need to refine some of this on future visits. Also added the two rail tunnels on the northern approach to Audley End station.
Last Tuesday, at long last got back to Ely to complete the new housing development off King's Avenue and the area around the Princess of Wales hospital.
The former has moved on somewhat since I was last there, including an almost complete new roundabout linking to the B road to Prickwillow. However there is still much housing under construction south of King's Avenue and will need another visit in a year or so to update.
The latter includes some new housing on land sold off by the Ministry of Defence around this old military, now civilian, hospital, but also includes some military housing which I balked at, seeing the notices "this is a prohibited area under the meaning of the Official Secrets Act".
Then continued north to fill in a bit more detail around the small village of Chettisham on my way to Littleport (see separate entry).
Littleport is a village of about 7,000 people in the heart of the Cambridgeshire Fens about 5 miles north of Ely. There was an almost believable skeleton of roads already present (quite a few residential streets) but it was highly selective and, it turned out, with lots of errors. Spent two mapping trips, today and last Tuesday, doing the town systematically so that it is now complete.
There is a large chunk of new housing being built of Highfield Drive in the southwest of the town. The first phase is largely complete, and now mapped of course, but the second phase is barely started, so Littleport will need another visit in a year or so to fill in these new streets.
Completed Newmarket today, with a couple of hour's surveying, and then just checking up on a few outstanding questions from previous visits. Newmarket is about 15,000 people, and it took about 14 hours of surveying time, over four sessions, not counting travel time, so that's pretty much par. Editing is taking me longer these days, maybe I'm putting in more detail. Did my second continuous audio and used the new JOSM facilities to play the results back - worked very effectively.
Having bought a Nokia N810, which makes it easy to add waymarks, I revisited using continuous sound tracks in JOSM this week, meaning I don't have to have wires draped across my handlebars, nor keep pressing the pause button. Ideally I'll use a bluetooth mic and record on the N810 in future, but the sound quality isn't good enough that way yet.
So, I've reimplemented the rudimentary audio support in JOSM to thread the audio player, supply the usual controls, synchronise with waypoints and allow for a sampled set of waypoints when you can't create them explicitly, and to have a play head which follows your track in JOSM in real time. It makes audio mapping much easier both while surveying and while entering data.
Two further trips to Newmarket on 6th and 15th February completed firstly the industrial and residential areas of Studlands Park and the area east of Exning Road over to the river valley carrying NCN51, and then the village of Exning. Not only were the existing roads there woefully incomplete, but what was there was significantly wrong as well: wrong names and deviant tracks. Corrected now.
Secondly, completed the rather more sparse area of east and north east Newmarket: the large number of stables and studs mean that residential development is not very dense along Ely Road (A142) and Bury Road (the old A11 road). Moving round to the south-east, however, density increased again on the rising ground behind the town.
Battery on my Nokia N8109 ran out on both trips after 4 hours 10 minutes. Biked home after the first session via NCN51 all the way - it's a long way round and I got back exhausted. Second trip I did bus both ways, and the timing was perfect. However it does leave an area called Crockfords Park south of the railway and the old town south of the High Street still outstanding. One more trip will probably complete the town.
Tuesday: started work on detailed mapping of Newmarket, Suffolk, dealing with the race course and the residential areas to the north and west. It'll take a while - population about 15,000 so about 15 hours of surveying of which I did about three this week, so maybe 5 visits should see it done. It's only 10 miles from home though, so a bit more accessible than the remaining bits of South Cambridgeshire out towards St Neots.
The racecourse and related paraphernalia involved quite a few tags I'd not needed to use before, but much of the rest of the town in this part is rather dull ex-council housing residential (there's also a large industrial area which I didn't really start on, straddling Exning Road).
Discovered the Newmarket end of NCN51, which leads from Exning all the way into Newmarket town centre, most of it entirely away from the road down a small stream valley, so that got me back to the station and got mapped into the bargain (someone had obviously tried before, but maybe got lost, as it tailed off in the middle of a housing estate).
Thursday: first mapping expedition for a while, but needed to get out of the house despite the poor weather.
There was a gap in the Duxford area along the A505 between Whittlesford and Fowlmere which encompasses the Imperial War Museum complex (not all of which is accessible), and a surprising amount of housing, some new, which is actually part of Duxford. Went a bit further west to capture the hamlet of Crishall Grange, Thriplow public waste recycling centre, and pet cemetery.
Then the weather cleared a bit so I headed south on my bike to Great Chesterford, which I've completed, and with a bit of time to spare for the train back, also did Little Chesterford.
The two large villages of Over and Willingham are on the outer edge of South Cambridgeshire, biunded by the River Ouse to the north. Over was partly done, but turned out not very well. There were several incorrect street names and there was a lot less done than I had thought from looking at the map. So I completed Over, and then did the rather larger village of Willingham, which had only the two through roads already present. The hamlet of Overcote is around the corner from Over on a long dead end road out to the river, where NPE marks a now long-gone ferry to the Pike & Eel pub on the other bank.
This is the first time I've encounteed any hostility mapping. I had a nasty man in maroon overalls threaten to set his dogs on me for having the presumption to come down his road, Mere Way in Willingham. And Willingham is completely swamped with cars - there's an unbeliveable amount of traffic for such a small village.