The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group
Life in the Slow Lane
It’s July. The weather has been a little patchy, but the forecast this weekend was pretty good. Not burning sunshine, but a hazy covering of cloud and a bit humid. Possibly the best weather for a relaxing bike ride on the quiet back lanes of Norfolk.
Arrival was staggered over several hours on Friday evening, with some arriving in time for a slap up meal in the Ostrich in Castle Acre. After a bit of a night cap it was time to return to the Old Red Lion hostel for a good nights sleep. The route from the Ostrich down to the hostel takes you through the massive Bailey Gate – a sure sign that this quiet Norfolk village had a very grand history. On the junction of the River Nar and the Peddars Way, it was the perfect site for both a Norman Castle and a Priory. The remains of both are still there for you to visit.
After a wholesome breakfast on Saturday morning, we kitted out in our cycling kit and set off up the hill. This was hard work, leading us to wobble across the road, or even get off and walk – not a great start! It got better, though, a lovely ride through Rougham and the Massinghams to East Rudham and the delicious Jane’s Tearooms. Tea was a little late, so it really wasn’t long before we were stopping off in West Raynham for a spot of lunch. There was a handy set of picnic benches by the childrens playground, which was perfect as a break from the bicycle saddle. Probably better know for the RAF base a couple of miles away, West Raynham is a lovely, quiet village - notably lacking a pub. Just from a health and safety point of view it was important we re-hydrate so, post sarnis, it was off to the Bull at Litcham. Not a moment too soon! They were just winding down from the lunchtime crowd, but we promised we’d be no trouble. Clearly understanding the other reason why we needed a pub stop, the barmaid even came out to warn us of the imminent closure of the toilets – what service!
From Litcham it really wasn’t far to get back to Castle Acre and this gave us the opportunity to try the other pub in the village – the newly re-furbed George and Dragon. Being a little further to walk we’d not tried this on Friday night, but it was charming. A cool, dark interior with an impressive display of books, including four massive bibles, however we chose to sit in the garden. With two pubs in fairly quick succession, I confess I may have been a little unsteady remounting my bicycle afterwards.
For our evening meal Jim and Lily organised a barbecue and salad, which was perfect after our energetic day. It was particularly heroic of Jim to spend the evening tending the grill, after spending the whole day shepherding his convoy of cyclists.
For our Sunday ride we headed out to Sandringham. Resisting the offer of the Queen’s cake and coffee (although we did use her toilets), we set off for Fring, heading towards the fantastic tearoom at Gt Bircham Mill. This bit of Norfolk is relatively hilly and, still a little tired from Saturday, we were a tad slower. Luckily it levelled off after morning tea, but then just before lunch we lost Doug. Jim re-traced our route and discovered Doug with a puncture. Not a total disaster. As the rest of us looked for a place to wait and eat sarnis, we discovered the Anmer Social Club. And very sociable they were too: not only letting us eat lunch by their bowling green, but selling us beer to wash it down. Then it was back to Sandringham for tea and cake. Although the end of the official Jim route, Dave and Ali cycled a brief extension out to the Queen’s former railway station at Wolverton.
It was a fantastic weekend. Thanks in particular go to Jim for all his hard work to make it all go so smoothly.
Seven go Rambling in Kent
It’s a Sunday in mid-August and seven intrepid walkers met for a 10 mile walk on the Octavia Hill Centenary Trail. Octavia Hill (1838-1912) was a social reformer and philanthropist who tried to improve the housing available to poor people and is regarded as the founder of modern social work. She was also one of the founders of the National Trust in 1895, believing that all should have access to the beauty of the countryside. The walk took us to many sites commemorating Octavia, stone seats, a well where we had lunch, her grave and a beautiful stained glass window in the church where she is buried (she refused to be buried in Westminster Abbey). We also enjoyed expansive views from the top of the North Downs, tea and beautiful floral displays at Emmets Gardens, beer in the ground of at the pub at Crockham Hill and views of Chartwell from above. The whole area was full of oast houses and we had many ups and downs in our figure-of-eight walk, which makes the extra distance of a journey to Kent worth the effort. Thanks to all who came, and Jim for driving.
Please send any comments on these pages to Dave Plummer