<> Norfolk, July-August 2005 <>

Last modified: Sunday, 14 August, 2016

Note: these entries were originally entered on my Palm Pilot while we were away on our travels. That's my excuse for any remaining typos; my Graffiti is often a little slap-dash!

[ Journal Index ]

Friday, 29th July

* We loaded up our trusty Dawes Galaxies and rode to Cambridge station (via Field & Trek and Black's to get a Coleman gas canister, making it a three-mile trip). The 15:32 WAGN train to King's Lynn was ten minutes late and quite busy so we had to put both bikes in the same vestibule and I had to keep shifting mine to let people past. We got to King's Lynn just before 4:30.

* Once free of the train, we easily found the cycle route heading out of town to the north. This forms part of National Cycle Network (NCN) route #1 and we gratefully followed it as far as Sandringham House. This kept us away from the rush hour traffic, especially on the A149 which resembled a race track when we crossed it (without the aid of traffic lights) after passing through the idyllic looking Castle Rising. The ride through the wooded country around Sandringham was the highlight of the day.

* At the main gate of Sandringham House, we left the NCN route and headed north through Dersingham and took Lynn Road past Ingoldisthorpe to Snettisham where we turned west to re-cross the A149 and take Beach Road out to Diglea Caravan & Camping Park. The 15 miles from King's Lynn station took just over an hour and a half.

* We arrived at Diglea around 6pm and, the site office being closed, sought out the warden's hut where we booked in for two nights. The campsite was crowded and noisy; we took what refuge we could at the far end of the less busy of the two rally fields. We setup the Bug facing away from the bulk of the field with the front porch setup stand-alone to the right of the tent's entrance. After we'd setup, a trio of young lads arrived in a VW camper van [photo] and setup a tent in an adjacent pitch.

* Dinner was mushroom rice based on a Batchelors pack with additional rice and dried mushrooms and some chicken stock cube mixed in. This was cooked over the Trangia in one of Lisa's new MSR pans that, starting from this trip, have now supplanted the Trangia's own pans. As night was falling, and there were plenty of mosquitos about, we ate in the tent and settled down for the night immediately afterwards.

Saturday, 30th July

* Light rain this morning had passed by eleven when we surfaced for coffee and a breakfast of oatmeal. Lisa was suffering badly with pain in the ball of her right foot which had come on suddenly during the night. This made walking almost unbearable and riding only slightly less of a trial. In spite of the pain, Lisa didn't want to miss out on visiting the coast so we rode the 2/3 mile to the beach.

* The beach here is part sand and part shingle. We parked our bikes up on the sea defence [photo] and walked down to the water's edge. This was the first time Lisa had been on a sea coast (rather than a river estuary) in Britain so we spent a while walking on the very edge of the Wash [photos]. The camper van lads were sitting on the beach but the weather was too cool for us to stay still for long.

* After a lunch of peanut butter sandwiches, we decided to ride back into Snettisham to see what it had to offer in terms of food shopping. The answer seemed to be: a general store and a butcher. As Lisa was finding riding marginally less painful than walking, we carried on riding for a bit. We continued through the village, up to the magnificently spired church, along St. Thomas's Lane (which we noted was part of National Cycle Network route #1) to Ingoldisthorpe, down past Hall Farm and then back to Snettisham via Lynn Road.

* Lisa did her marketing in the butcher's and in the grocer's then we rode back down Beach Road to the campsite, passing the camper van lads who were walking out towards the village. Back in the Bug, Lisa took some downtime while I journaled. The unladedn trip out and back added just over ten miles to our tally.

* Dinner tonight was chili and rice. The chili spices came from an Asda pack to which Lisa added fresh minced beef from the butcher in Snettisham, fried with chopped fresh onion, and chopped fresh tomatoes with some herbes de Provence. Delicious, and lots of it! After dinner we played some dice cricket which is our latest favourite passtime.

Sunday, 31st July

* We emerged from the Bug at about 11am, just after the camper van lads had packed up and departed. After a cup of tea, breakfast was instant mashed potato with fried eggs and bread & butter (with Marmite for me) followed by coffee.

* Since we'd been alerted by signs at the entrance to the northern rally field (where we were camping) warning that it was going to be closed tonight, we decided to move on to another site for the second two nights of our trip. We agreed that, in view of Lisa's painful foot, we should head back towards home. Immediately we siezed on the idea of spending the time down at Woodlakes, near Downham Market, where we've enjoyed camping each of the last three years. Accordingly, we called them up to book a pitch (even though they'd told us before that there was no need to book for a tent). Lisa left a message on their answering machine and we began to strike camp, as were almost all of the other campers in the field.

* A little while later, we got a call from Woodlakes to say that they were no longer a campsite. We were very surprised and disappointed by this news, to say the least! Woodlakes was, for us, the perfect campsite which is why we'd returned there year after year since our first visit. We're very sad to know that we'll never be able to spend time there again.

* In the short term, we now needed a new plan for tonight and tomorrow. We didn't have the details of any sites in the right area with us, so we looked on the O.S. Explorer maps of the King's Lynn area to see if any sites were marked that we could reach in an afternoon's riding. The most appealing candidate was in the village of Clenchwarton, four miles beyond King's Lynn to the west, so we decided to head for there.

* As we finished packing up and started loading our bikes, we noticed a car-load of campers arrive and begin setting up tents in the by now near deserted field. On enquiring of them, Lisa learned that they'd been told to ignore the signs as the field wasn't going to be closed after all. We weren't too happy about this as we'd have stayed on at Diglea if we'd known we wouldn't have to move to another part of the site. We left feeling down after the double disappointment of Woodlakes' closure and the needlessness of our departure.

* I was concerned at how Lisa would manage riding 20+ miles, fully laden, with her injured foot but, in the event, she survived better than either of us had dared hope. We rode through Snettisham, eschewing the Lynn Road to Dersingham in favour of the National Cycle Network route (NCN Route #1) to Sandringham house. This we picked up at St. Thomas's Lane, just past the church on the eastern outskirts of Snettisham, and followed through Ingoldisthorpe, up Chalk Pit road, down Mill Road and then up past the Royal Sandringham sawmill. At the main gate of Sandringham House we rejoined our route out on Friday and retraced our way back to King's Lynn. At the level crossing just before King's Lynn station, we took to the streets and rounded the south side of the town, crossing the river Great Ouse by the free bridge and heading west to Clenchwarton.

* Once in the village of Clenchwarton our plans came unravelled as there was no sign of the campsite shown on the map, nor anywhere else in the village. We called in at the Victory Inn [photo] to enquire but nobody there knew anything about a camp site in the area and, after one final reconnaisance of the location shown as a campsite on the map, we were forced to conclude that, if the place ever had existed, it certainly didn't anymore and we'd have to find somewhere else to stay the night. Back, then, to the Victory Inn (which claimed, on a sign outside, to offer accomodation) to see if there was a room available there for the night. Much to our relief, there was and without further ado we were shown up to a spotlessly clean and very well appointed room on the first floor. We were in the Admiral Nelson room, one of two the inn has available (the other being the Lady Hamilton room). It was not how we'd planned to spend the night and (at £50 for the one night) very much more expensive than a campsite but a night in a comfortable room in an inn was, nonetheless, a very welcome prospect and we were hugely relieved to have found such an immediate and pleasant solution to our difficulty.

* We partly unloaded our bikes, which were then locked in the inn's garage, and dumped our baggage in the room. There being no food available at the inn on a Sunday evening we resorted to "Ali's Kebab Bar" which operates from a van on the inn's forecourt. Ali himself was an engaging and helpful North Cypriot and the food was better than might be imagined from its provenance, at least to two tired and ravenously hungry cyclists. We dined on chicken kebabs and chips. In an effort to ensure that we replenished salt lost sweating on the bikes, Lisa shook the salt dispenser so enthusiasticaly that the top fell off and dumped practically the entire contents on our chips so we were in no danger of suffering cramp as a result of salt deficiency this night! We had a pint from the bar with our meal, then headed upstairs. We took full advantage of the shower facility and were asleep soon after ten.

* The ride down from Diglea was just under 24 miles long, close to our longest day of the year to date and by some way our longest ride with all our camping gear. In spite of this, and in spite of her injured foot, Lisa completed the distance without undue difficulty and confessed to having enjoyed the experience. If confirmation were needed that she'd stepped up to new level of fitness and riding capacity, this was surely it!

Monday, 1st August

* After an excellent night's sleep in the comfortable beds of the Victory Inn, we were woken by our alarm in plenty of time for us to make our way downstairs to breakfast at 8.30am. We feasted on a generous and delicious Full English breakfast and, in conversation with the landlord, discovered just how lucky we'd been to find a room vacant there for the night as the accomodation is generally fully booked well in advance.

* We retrieved our bikes from the inn's garage and loaded up [photo]. At a gentle pace, we retraced our way back across the free bridge and into the centre of King's Lynn. After shopping for painkillers for Lisa, a 2005 Cade's camping guide and methylated spirits for the Trangia we made our way up onto the quayside for a snack and to pick a campsite for tonight. While on the riverside we saw the finish of a dinghy race [photo] which coincided with the ferry crossing the Great Ouse [photo].

* After cross-checking entries in the Cade's guide with the relevant O.S. Explorer map, we settled on Breckland Meadows Touring Park in Swaffham. A quick 'phone call settled things and we set out from King's Lynn. Our route led us east on the A1076 and B1145 as far as Gayton where we turned south through East Walton, along Narford Lane past the impressive-looking Narford Hall and onwards (over some tiring undulations) to Swaffham. Lisa did a little shopping in the town before we took the Lynn Road west to the campsite [photo]. The ride from King's Lynn to Swaffham clocked up 18.5 miles in addition to the four miles into King's Lynn from Clenchwarton this morning.

* Breckland Meadows was a complete contrast to Diglea in that it's a very small site with exquisitely manicured lawns and a tranquil atmosphere completely devoid of screaming kids and rampant dogs. Heavenly! We pitched the Bug and front porch and relaxed in the tent for a while before emerging to cook dinner. Lisa seasoned and fried some cubed chicken over the Coleman stove, then added this and two chopped tomatoes to a pot of paella rice (made up from a Lisa-enhanced packet we'd brought with us) simmering on the Trangia. While the paella was cooking we retreated to the Bug and played some dice cricket. Soon after dinner we settled down for the night.

Tuesday, 2nd August

* Having found such a congenial place to camp it was a great shame that we could spend just the one night there and had to leave straight after breakfast (fried eggs and instant mash with bread & butter followed by coffee again) the very next morning. Consequently I wasn't in the happiest frame of mind as we packed up.

* We eventually took our reluctant leave of Breckland Meadows [photo] at 1pm and headed off toward Downham Market. From Swaffham we rode south-west through Beachamwell, Barton Bendish and West Dereham then out on the Ryston Road until we turned north to Bexwell. Once we'd taken the turn we found ourselves behind a hedge-cutter; he let us pass but almost immediately I punctured: a thorn from the hedge cutting, and in the rear wheel of course! While effecting repairs two more cyclist came past, one of whom also punctured at the same point I had! After the repair, we continued to Bexwell and headed west on the main road into Downham Market town centre where we had a break for a rest and a bite to eat having ridden almost nineteen miles since leaving Swaffham.

* The centre of Downham Market has had a big face-lift since we were there three years ago, thanks (in part, at least, it seems) to a European Regional development grant. There's a nice new market square and the shops around it seem to be thriving in contrast to the run-down decrepitude we saw in 2002. Even the landmark clock has had a new paint-job [photo].

* Eventually we decided to ride on to Littleport so we headed south out of the town centre to Denver then west to Denver Sluice where we crossed the River Great Ouse and took the Ten Mile Bank the ten miles (!) south to Littleport Station.

* We only had a few minutes' wait for the 19:00 train to Cambridge which was mercifully uncrowded. Once at Cambridge station we had to wait on board the train while the police searched it for somebody (who was apparently not on the train as they left empty handed) but we were eventually let off and rode home via the chip shop in Mill Road. By the time we got home, our mileage for the day had surpassed 33.6: definitely a new landmark.

*  We got home tired and sad that the trip was over but exhilarated at the fun we'd had and pleased with how we'd not only managed so much fully-laden riding but had also enjoyed doing it so very much. Our total mileage for the trip was 108.3 all of which was ridden fully laden, apart from the 10.3 on Saturday. We thus averaged 21.7 miles per day (24.5 for the four fully laden trips) and took our Galaxy mileage for the summer to 361.1. This trip broke new ground for us and we don't intend to be slow to build on this experience with more, and maybe even more ambitious, trips this summer!

Back to Journal Index

Journal Index

[Nightwol's Perch Home Page]
[Email Me!]