Summer 2012: local bike rides


Just some pictures from three bike rides on three separate days in late July and the first of August 2012.

Leighton Buzzard to the Brickhills

My parents came to visit overnight - by bike along the canal. (Mum's been planning that for years, ever since she realised that you can go practically the whole way on the canal towpath.) In the morning when they set off back, I joined them for the first ten miles to Leighton Buzzard, where we separated.

They've got about another 45 miles to go.
1/500 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 51°55′6″N 0°40′8″W

I decided to return home by a different route - instead of along the canal, which is nice and flat, I aimed for all three Brickhills: Great Brickhill, Little Brickhill, and Bow Brickhill. Those are three villages on the top of the hills. The name 'Brickhill' isn't related to bricks; it means 'hill hill' in a combination of languages, so when you take that into account, it sums to a total of six hills! Not a very sensible cycling route.

Water company building in Leighton Buzzard.
1/500 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 51°55′29″N 0°39′46″W
Greenhouses up on the hill.
1/400 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 51°56′31″N 0°40′31″W
Road tunnel.
1/250 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 51°56′58″N 0°41′7″W

At one point the road got so sketchy it reminded me of Devon: very narrow and with weeds growing in the middle. Good for cycling on (except for the hill thing), but probably not great if you're in a car and meet another driver.

Gate beside the road to Great Brickhill.
1/500 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 51°57′21″N 0°41′21″W

Great Brickhill wasn't that great (it's just bigger than the other two). I didn't even take any pictures there. Little Brickhill, not far on, was much nicer.

Little Brickhill phone booth with leaf shadows.
1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 51°58′56″N 0°40′36″W
Stop! Admire the ivy!
1/500 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 51°58′58″N 0°40′36″W
Lion, white van, pole, meter box. (In pub car park.)
1/250 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 51°58′58″N 0°40′34″W

The standout feature of Little Brickhill is, of course, the disused petrol station.

Looks like it's been closed a while.
1/500 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 51°58′56″N 0°40′27″W
Side wall.
1/1000 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 51°58′55″N 0°40′28″W
Shiny cladding, mould.
1/1000 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 51°58′56″N 0°40′29″W

After that I went past the golf course and down into Bow Brickhill. Which is fine but I've seen it lots of times before and it doesn't have a disused petrol station, so I didn't take any pictures. I eventually made it back home (completely exhausted from all the hills) in time for lunch.

Clifton Reynes

I decided to ride up north to the village of Clifton Reynes, near Olney.

Underpass by Willen Lake.
1/250 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°2′50″N 0°43′6″W

That painting is signed 'im not defacing property, im painting a face on it - Heks 2011'. Nice quote, even if it's missing a few apostrophes. Incidentally, I spent ages messing with the photo so everything's visible; don't look too closely or you might spot the glitches. :)

Garage in Sherington.
1/500 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°6′33″N 0°42′17″W
Olney church. The huge tower is visible for miles.
1/500 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°9′0″N 0°42′4″W

I only really went to the edge of Olney - probably should visit it properly some time. Anyway, I turned east on footpaths.

Church amid a flock of birds. (Bit of a postcard shot, sorry.)
1/640 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°8′53″N 0°41′47″W

The map isn't hugely clear about the path through here; it marks a ford, and my folding bike isn't really built for fords, so I wasn't sure I could get through. But in actual fact there is a footbridge.

Across the bridge, I climbed the hill and looked back.

Church tower again.
1/60 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°8′58″N 0°41′18″W

You may not be surprised to hear that shortly after I took that picture, it started to rain. I hurried to Clifton Reynes church, hoping to shelter in the porch, but in fact it did me one better: the church was open (and quite interesting, too).

Candle stand, maybe.
1/15 at f2, 23mm, ISO1600 52°9′13″N 0°41′15″W
Window on the rain.
1/60 at f8, 23mm, ISO400 52°9′13″N 0°41′15″W

A heavy shower lasted fifteen minutes or so, then the sun came out again.

And shone through this flag.
1/15 at f2.8, 23mm, ISO200 52°9′13″N 0°41′14″W
Bell ropes.
1/15 at f4, 23mm, ISO800 52°9′13″N 0°41′14″W
Stained glass (1).
1/15 at f2.8, 23mm, ISO800 52°9′13″N 0°41′14″W
Stained glass (2).
1/15 at f5.6, 23mm, ISO800 52°9′13″N 0°41′14″W
Drawing pins in porch.
1/30 at f4, 23mm, ISO800 52°9′13″N 0°41′13″W
Church from outside. It's quite boxy.
1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°9′11″N 0°41′14″W

On the way back, I decided to see if I could get a view of the nearby wind farm. I went up there a few years back, but that was before it was finished.

Olney church in distance.
1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°8′38″N 0°41′12″W
Lane toward wind turbines.
1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°8′6″N 0°41′47″W

I got closer than that picture, but not as close as I wanted before the lane ran out. Oh well.

Heading back down toward the sun.
1/500 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°8′5″N 0°41′10″W

I returned via Emberton, Sherington, and Newport Pagnell again. To vary the route, I decided to take the old railway path west and join the MK redway system that way instead. That involved the motorway underpass with nice graffiti.

The writing is, apparently, lyrics to 'England' by Carter USM.
1/4 at f2, 23mm, ISO1600 52°4′46″N 0°44′30″W

Kempston Hardwick

I got the local train to Kempston Hardwick, for a circular ride to Stewartby and back.

Bridge on the other (main) railway line near Kempston.
1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°4′58″N 0°29′19″W

There was once a plan to dump nuclear waste here, but now they're building houses instead. (At least, I assume it's 'instead'.)

Bedfordshire Against Nuclear Dumping brick monument.
1/60 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°4′48″N 0°29′12″W
Nice bus stop, monument in background.
1/60 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°4′47″N 0°29′12″W
Barbed wire and its natural equivalent (brambles).
1/60 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°4′42″N 0°29′4″W

I took a minor road to a village called Houghton Conquest, because it had such a silly name. Unfortunately, it doesn't have much else to recommend it (although the church is quite impressive and it does have a shop that sells ice cream). My next stop was Stewartby.

Stewartby was the last local brickworks to close. When I first lived here, if the wind blew from that exact direction, you could smell the soot in the air all day. No more. But it does still have some quite large chimneys, because they're listed buildings.

Chimneys and trees.
1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°4′15″N 0°30′55″W
You can buy them! Not sure what I'd do with them.
1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°4′15″N 0°30′54″W
Used to be the London Brick Company. Now Hanson PLC. (Meh.)
1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°4′16″N 0°30′54″W
Telephone cabinet.
1/60 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°4′16″N 0°30′53″W
Part of the site. (Taken over a gate. It looks deserted, but is still occupied and has security.)
1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°4′7″N 0°31′3″W
Stewartby station.
1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°4′8″N 0°31′15″W

At that point my planned route went a bit wrong. They've built an enormous new dual-carriageway to replace the existing road, and the footpath I had intended to take is now blocked off. After some consideration, I found a road that crossed on a huge new bridge, and managed to get to Wootton (which turned out not to be a very interesting place anyway).

I left Wootton on a bridleway, although I wasn't sure whether it would make it back across the new road. As it turned out, I needn't have worried.

Just me, or is this bridge a bit over-engineered?
1/60 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°5′52″N 0°30′43″W

I'd checked the timetable (the trains are hourly, or a bit less) and arrived back at Kempston Hardwick station in good time for the next service.

Most of the station (slight exaggeration, but).
1/60 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 52°5′30″N 0°30′14″W

All images © Samuel Marshall. All rights reserved.