Chelmsford YHA Group


The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group

August 2016

Norfolk Ain’t Flat

Cycling in Norfolk

After several weeks of heavy rain, Sheringham at the start of July had a forecast that included something approaching summer weather! The group descended on the hostel divided roughly 50:50 into walkers and cyclists. Saturday saw both groups head off along the coast, although in different directions. Of the walkers, one group led by Cress headed west, whilst John & Gavin attempted to cover most of the rest of the Norfolk coast path. The cyclists, ably led by Jim, were heading east. Both of the walking parties seemed to have planned hard days: Cress’ group bagged 14 miles with barely a teashop in sight, whilst John & Gavin fared better for snacks but covered a gruelling 23 miles. By contrast the cyclists had a very leisurely day: only half a dozen miles before morning coffee at Cromer, a very civilised lunch and cockle stop at Mundesley, and a spookily well-timed afternoon tea at Felbrigg Hall.

The 14 milers were heading west, so there were no sightings until we got back to the hostel. The cyclists did, however, manage to bump into Gavin & John in Mundesley, where they were disappointed to hear they weren’t quite half way. They weren’t seen again until some 6 hours later, when they stumbled half-starved into the chip shop where we had our dinner.

The cycle route included pleasantly undulating lanes through gorgeous Norfolk villages – the Cromer Ridge proving that not all of Norfolk is flat. As the day wore on the sky thickened in an alarming manner and all three groups witnessed the storm. The walkers all got hailed on (and boy, was there hail!), but in a canny masterpiece of timing the cyclists were cowering in the Felbrigg tearooms as the thunder rolled and the hailstorm steamed through.


The Kiss of the Bumblebee

Our friend Doug, he met a bug,

It stung him on the head.

It hurt like hell, but worse befell

As Trudi sucked it till it bled.

The venom out, no need to shout,

And Trudi charged no fee,

But Doug he cursed, for which was worse?

The cure or the angry bee?


The view from the rear

My first CYHA cycling trip coincided with the start of the Tour de France, and it soon became apparent that I was going to earn the Lantern Rouge, pottering along at the back.

The first leg was along the main road to Cromer, with a minor interruption caused by a bee entering Doug’s helmet and stinging his scalp.

We cruised along the coast road to Cromer with the sea on our left looking blue and very inviting, dropping down to the pier where we had morning coffee and tried not to talk about politics, Brexit, and the pitfalls of dysfunctional democracies. We turned inland onto National Cycle Route 30, cycling past lovingly tended cottages made of flint like pieces of 3D jigsaw puzzles fitted together, and floriferous grass verges. Conditions were almost perfect with billowing clouds and no head wind. By this time, I was learning the lingo and realising that head winds slow you down, and that you aren’t supposed to walk up hills pushing your bike. All very unsettling. But people waited for me, and thanks to high visibility clothing I realised they weren’t too far ahead. To Doug’s disappointment we cycled past several pubs with the aim of reaching a teashop, and shelter, before the rain which was forecast for 4pm.

And what rain!! As we sat in the courtyard at Felbrigg Hall under fairly robust gazebos, first large raindrops fell, then bounced back up again, and then morphed into large hailstones, accompanied by flashes of lightning and a tremendous roar of thunder. It was short lived and when we left our bikes were much cleaner - ready for the lovely long hill down into Sheringham. Jim said he had totalled 33.5 miles, and we thought we had too until we realised he had been going round in circles rounding us all up. 

It the evening we had fish and chips in the “Sheringham Trawler”, followed by the obligatory ice cream on the jetty, listening to sea shanties, contemporary folk music, or the waves, breaking on the newly reinforced sea defences.

At Sheringham station

On Sunday morning we boarded a Poppy Line train at the oh so cute station and steam featured again as we were propelled to Holt. A hiatus occurred due to a vintage transport rally which proved irresistible even to the keenest of cyclists. There were much loved vehicles and eccentric owners, in the station setting of olde worlde charm. But we left eventually and cycled to Cley, where the sea proved irresistible to me, and I provided entertainment to a nearby seal also bobbing about in the briney. Cycle route 30 proved useful again, leading us back to the excellent garden tea room at Pretty Corner.

There were no serious bicycle repair issues to cause inconvenience and I decided cycling in optimum conditions is the way forward, quite literally. I was so reluctant to leave the saddle when we arrived back in Sheringham, that Ali and I did a small extension up the hill to ensure we totalled 20 miles.

Thanks to Jim for an excellent weekend. When is the award ceremony for my Lantern Rouge?  


Please send any comments on these pages to Dave Plummer