Sunday, 7 July 2013

#9 Milton Ernest to Thurleigh

4.36 Miles
85 Metres

Sunny Day? Check.  Need to do a walk? Check.  Due in work to do a night shift? Doh!  12 hour shifts are a killer for various reason, a big one is the fact that it's really hard to do anything apart from sleep and go to work.  Walking from home is an option and I'm lucky that following the footpaths I could get to work in about 9 miles, however walking into work (3 hrs), a 12 hour night shift, then walking home (3 hrs) is tough.  In fact, I'd go so far to say I might do it once to prove I can, then file it under zombie sleep walking.

Wind tunnel site
Option 2 is to walk from a convenient mid-point.  It just so happens there is one from Milton Ernest.  I can park the car and be walking into work about 1.5 hrs later.  We have a shower in work so with some forward planning (shower stuff, towel), I don't have to carry that much.  Well that was the idea, laptop, food, change of clothes, etc, meant that the pack ended up in the 7kgs range!

The route I took wasn't the quickest/shortest, but I wanted to avoid the country (pathless) roads.   The roads round here can be used as cut-through's, so it's not the nicest place to walk or more importantly the safest. 

Walking up from Milton Ernest the paths mainly stick to field boundaries and are a mix of corn or rapeseed.   The views are actually pretty good as the area round Thurleigh is on a plateau above the Great Ouse flood plains. 

Airfield taxiway
Just out of Milton Ernest is the site of an old wind tunnel research site.  The building are still used but mainly as an indoor skydiving centre!  In the 1950's this place was cutting edge, with sub-sonic to hypersonic wind tunnels.  I had the privilege of a tour round here in about 1996 and it's safe to say it had dated and the lack of investment showed. 

The path dropped through the fields into the nice small village of Bletsoe before heading back up towards Thurleigh airfield.  The airfield was also the site of a research centre, and was at the forefront of world leading research in the 50's and 60's.  Sadly it's now mainly used as a racetrack and carpark for scrapped cars.  With one of the longest runways in Europe (Only Heathrow in the UK is longer), you'd of thought something better could of been built here (London Bedford International Airport?).

In World War 2, the airfield was home to a bomb group of the 8th Air force.  B-17's flew from here to hit various places in Europe.  It can get a bit spooky at night, especially as many young men left here never to return.

It's not the longest walk, but better than nothing on a hot summers day.  The only downside is that I have to do 12 hours of work!

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