Sunday, September 21, 2014

21 Sept: Wells to Sheringham (50km)

love Norfolk. The whole place feels like a very small community and people just assume you are friendly and want to talk to them. I've had more random chats today than in ages.

I knew I didn't need to cycle far today, so took advantage of the available pottering time to have a most enjoyable day.

I left my pannier at the hostel first thing and biked down to see the sea. The tide was half in, meaning a long way out: Wells is raising funds for a new lifeboat as at low tide they have to tow their current lifeboat 2.5 miles across the sand to launch it!

I walked the beach and dune forest which is an old favourite haunt and then got briefly rained into the beach cafe. It's dog-friendly so on a Sunday morning, great entertainment for the dog-deprived like me. It was also packed, so I shared a table with a very nice family whose child was also commenting on every incoming dog ('that looks like your dog grandma but it's much fatter' 'Sshh, you can't say that!').

Reunited with my pannier I headed east-ish, first up and down some slightly hairy green lanes then through the back roads a bit inland of the fast coastal road.

I stopped at Binham priory, an extraordinary place. It was a Benedictine monastery set up by a Norman baron in the stated hope that it would count in his favour come judgement day (presumably he had done terrible deeds during the conquest). It thrived through till Henry VIII when it was sold off and ripped up for building stone - but the central building has survived and is still the parish church. In fact as I poked my head in to have a look the Sunday service had just finished and a very friendly retired farmer offered me a post-church cup of tea. 

A few sets of sunshine and showers later I cruised into Blakeney, which was looking as lovely as ever. Apparently there were several feet of water in the quayside buildings during the storm surge last December. I planned a few future art purchases in the gallery where my hare pictures came from, and then was fed coffee and cake by two lovely ladies running a cafe out of the Methodist church.

More quiet back roads, flint-built villages and cycle route that was nicely undulating but not painfully so, and I found myself in the Felbrigg estate, a National Trust place. I bought a cycle map and admired their cows but as yesterday, wasn't tempted to join the house-visiting masses.

A final few miles, in which I had to face the main road, and I reached my destination of Sheringham. The YHA here is a former children's home, and looks it, but I have to say it works pretty well.

Sheringham is in the midst of a 1940s weekend. That makes the world seem a little odd, because loud speakers all over town are blaring 40s music and there are people in airforce uniform rolling out of pubs everywhere. Not to mention the odd tank. The place has really gone the whole hog, the  streets are covered in bunting and and every café is displaying Camp Coffee ads etc. I did wonder what was going on this afternoon when I saw biplanes flying overhead and a Routemaster bus...

The wind got up this afternoon and there's a hell of a sea now. After a little wander round town, it must be time for some food.


PS: the Round Norfolk Relay that I kept seeing yesterday looks AMAZING! The concept is the whole county border in 24 hours, with 17 people per team. If anyone ever wants to do this I am IN.

PPS: how lovely Norfolk looks:

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