<> Woodlakes, Norfolk (2002) <>

Last modified: Sunday, 14 August, 2016

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Wednesday, 28th August

* Leaving home at around half past three in the afternoon, we cycled to Harlow Mill station, a distance of 2.5 miles. The 15:50 Stansted Airport train arrived at 15:58 and we rode it as far as Bishop's Stortford. At Stortford, the 16:03 train to Cambridge was running 20 minutes late so we didn't get into Cambridge until 16:58. While waiting for the 17:38 train to King's Lynn we ran into a colleague on her way home from the University and had a brief chat. Steve had expected to be able to buy a map (OS Explorer 238) of the King's Lynn area at the WHSmith shop on Cambridge station but was out of luck. We finally left Cambridge at 17:45 and got off the train at Watlington at 18:25. Having finished with trains for a few days, we could now begin to relax and enjoy ourselves!

* We followed directions to the campsite at Woodlakes, 2.75 miles from Watlington station. When we arrived, the reception was closed for the night. The site warden didn't seem too pleased to see us arriving so late and directed us to camp and pay in the morning. There seemed to be just three other tents on the camping field so we picked a sheltered spot in the south-west corner well away from the other occupants. We unloaded our heavily-laden mounts and pitched camp. Immediately, Lisa set to with the cooking equipment; we dined on rice, mushrooms and dried aubergine that we'd brought with us and had an early night. So pleased to be here!

Thursday, 29th August

* Having no milk, we started the next morning with black coffee: when camping, just as at home, our day invariably starts with Steve preparing hot drinks to ease us into the morning. Once reception was open, we paid for our two nights stay and bought some food (and milk!) from the site shop. Thus equipped, Lisa made us a breakfast of scrambled eggs and mushrooms which we washed down with fruit juice and tea.

* After showering, we cycled the ten miles up to King's Lynn. Not having a map, we rode the last 5 miles on the A10! Lisa had made sandwiches for our lunch which we ate as soon as we'd parked our bikes in the town centre. Then we did some exploring of the town and some shopping (yes! Steve got his map). We noticed that house prices seem very reasonable here; surprisingly so for somewhere with a direct rail connection to London. In general the town was very attractive, had plenty of interesting shops and was free of the air of being a satellite of London that infects such a large radius around the capital.

* Once the shops began to close, we set off back to the campsite. Steve made good use of the map to find us a route back with much less heavy traffic and which was almost a mile shorter! After an hour's break we started cooking dinner: pasta with a sauce of tomatoes, mushrooms, & mozzarella cheese. Delicious! After dinner, we wrote some postcards before turning in for the night.

Friday, 30th August

* Relaxing with our coffee before breakfast, we decided to drop our original plan to move on to Fakenham in favour of staying at Woodlakes another day or two. After coffee, breakfast consisted of scrambled eggs and mushrooms followed by a pot of tea and some orange juice.

* It was gone 1pm before we set out to ride to Downham Market. We began by cycling north for five miles towards King's Lynn (and thus directly away from Downham Market!) before crossing the Great Ouse and heading south through Wiggenhall St Mary Magdalen to Stowbridge and hence into Downham Market.

* Downham Market was quite disappointing. Many of the shops were shut down and those that were still trading weren't especially interesting. The market was really tiny and the town centre choked with traffic. To our surprise, given the run-down and generally unattractive aspect of the town, house prices seemed to be significantly higher than in King's Lynn.

* We ate our sandwiches facing the town's landmark clock, briefly visited the church (with its boarded up stained glass windows) and did some food shopping in Budgens. There being nothing to detain us further, we rode back to the camp-site. With our deliberate detour, we rode 20 miles today.

* After a while relaxing, we dined on pasta in a tomato, basil and scampi sauce. We had gooseberry fool for dessert, which reminded us of our friend Neile in Seattle. And so to bed.

Saturday, 31st August

* Sometime in the early hours we were woken by the sounds of an animal visitor (squirrel? fox??) licking out our discarded fool cartons under our porch canopy.

* Much later we awoke to sunny but very windy weather. Coffee took a while to prepare because the wind prevented the water from boiling until Lisa improvised a windshield for the Coleman stove out of the Trangia's windshield.

* Breakfast consisted of fried ham and eggs with baked beans, tea and plenty of bread and Marmite. We then took a break from the wind inside the tent with more coffee. Later, with the wind now subsided, we took a stroll around the various lakes that make up Woodlakes. Then it was time to break camp and load up our bikes for the journey home. This we accomplished in just an hour and a half, at a pretty leisurely pace.

* With a sad farewell to our home for the last three days we set off for Watlington station whre we caught the 18:41 train to King's Cross. At Cambridge we took the (10 minutes late) 19:34 Liverpool Street train as far as Harlow Town, arriving at 20:30.

* We took our bikes up from the platform, over and down to the booking hall via two lifts and cycled home via Edinburgh Way, Station Road, London Road and Minton Lane to arrive home at 21:20. During the trip we'd cycled some 51 miles.

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