Sunday, September 21, 2014

20 Sept 14: Cycling Downham Market - Wells-next-the-sea, Norfolk (82km)

One last mini-adventure before working life returns.

On a misty moisty morning I took the train north from Cambridge, accompanied by Horace all spick and span after an 87-quid (!) service. The Fens were under layers of gloom and it looks a lot like my good weather luck has for the present run out. 

I debated a bit about where to start and eventually got off at Downham Market. This was perfectly pleasant, once I'd found my way out of the housing estates, but probably a mistake in that one can have too much of fens in the mist...

First stop was King's Lynn. I had been following good national cycle route signage but as always, I lost it instantly on entering the town. I've been to KL before but only the scuzzy bits, and was surprised to find myself in a lovely park with a sweet little chapel on a raised mound. In fact apart from an excess of Jehovah's Witnesses, the town gets a definite thumbs up on second sight. 

I was also happy to find signposting for an off-road cycle path along an old railway line towards Sandringham. Sandringham estate really does have super woods.  Even though the trees haven't turned yet they are particularly lovely here, perhaps because it seems to be a massive mix of species. I took advantage of the coffee and cake opportunity presented by the estate but didn't feel inclined to venture into the house/gardens.

Had a bit of a low mid-afternoon. Not sure why as I was plenty sugared up, but everything has felt like very hard work today and it's been hard to stay the right temperature. It's basically cool and very clammy and Norfolk is hilly enough that several times an hour you get sweaty and then chilled all over again. 

Enough moaning. I bucked up on nearing the coast. Passed briefly through Burnham Market which looks like a lovely village, though it's rather hard to tell due to the 100 white 4x4s and similar parked all over it. Then Burnham Thorpe: Nelson's Village! (Says the sign). It's tiny. The biggest treat was following cycle route signposting through the tiny rear entrance (so small Horace had to squeeze through) into Holkam Park. The house was all shut up but the parkland, full of deer, was glorious. You've got to love a stately home that allows a national cycle route to cut through its property where there is no public right of way.

I came out the bottom of the estate into the sandy dune land of the coastal forest. A bit of almost uncycleable sandy cycle path led round to the front of Wells. I meandered slowly round town and up to the YHA which is hidden among the quiet backstreets.

Wells seems to be further upmarket - it has just got a supermarket (!) and bistro-like caf├ęs seem to now outnumber amusement arcades and fish and chip shops. It also seems pretty busy and as well as it's usual weekenders also had the Round Norfolk Relay (relay marathoning by the looks of it) and a wedding or two going on. 

The clouds are closing in. With any luck some actual rain will happen overnight and then clear to a beautiful sunny September morning!

Hmm. The weather forecast thinks not.

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