Norfolk isn't flat

The Clarion Cycling Club spring weekend outing this year was to Norfolk, staying at Sheringham, which I last visited in March last year for the steam gala. Ah-ha, I thought, East Anglia is perfectly flat - it'll be a doodle. Hmm, how wrong I was. You can read a full account of the rides on the Clarion website. I travelled up on Friday the 19th April with Jim, who had meticulously recced the rides and the journey up there. First hurdle was getting across London with the bikes, but before that we had to wait at Brighton station for our delayed train (someone had been run over at South Croydon). Behind schedule we travelled to Farringdon, then via several lifts and a tube train, to Liverpool Street, where we'd just missed our named train. Fortunately the conductor on the following train to Norwich took pity on me, after he'd clocked Jim's magic ticket (a perk of working on the railways). After a coffee at Norwich, we boarded the train to Sheringham, where we parted: he to go to the YHA, me to schlep up the hill to Camberley House B&B, where I was staying.

On the day boat

No steam trains on the Saturday (though we saw the narrow gauge Bure Valley train chuffing away in the distance as we approached Wroxham station), but we did get an hour on a day boat, on Hickling Broad, with Mick driving. This was after lunch at the Pleasure Boat Inn, where I was attracted to the veggie 'suet' pudding on the menu. It was however a disappointment - pastry hard as a pork pie crust, with an iffy filling of spinach, cherry tomatoes and goats cheese. With the help of a pint of Woodforde's Nelson's Revenge, I managed to finish it off though.

  'Suet' pudding

The ride that day was 27 miles, and with the 'undulations' between the stretches of water, felt a lot longer, especially the long drag back to North Walsham and the train back to base. It was a football special, but most of the supporters got off, so we were ok and went to The Lobster Inn hoping for a Cromer crab sandwich, but it was apparently too cold for them to come out. There was also no Wherry, on the beer front.

On Sunday, after another hearty veggie fry-up breakfast at Camberley House with Angela, Mick and Anne, we did get to go by steam, on the North Norfolk Railway along with Amanda, Angela, David and Helen to the end of the line Holt, with our special £1 Dog | Bicycle tickets. We were pulled by No.7560, an 0-6-0 J15, built at Stratford in 1912, sporting black LNER livery.

  7564 at Sheringham

At Holt station we cycled the mile or so to the village, where we met the others, who'd cycled all the way from Sheringham (including a hill!). After a coffee at the historic Byfords Cafe, we set off to the coast, through Cley next the sea, along Old Womans Lane, to Newgate Green, where we had lunch at the Three Swallows, where I did get a Cromer crab sandwich!

  Lunch at the Three Swallows, Newgate Green

After about 13 miles, just Amanda and I set off back to Holt station, where we just caught the last steam train back (the stoker was a rather attractive retro woman); the others cycled the extra 5 miles or so back to base. The remaining cyclists ate at the YHA (three of us, the only ones in there), where Jim had his second lasagne of the day.

  Retro firewoman

On Monday morning, I met Jim at the Coffee House cafe and we travelled back the way we'd come, with an hour or so to have a quick cycle round Norwich (which isn't flat either) to see the cathedral, castle, market and Royal Arcade. Back at Liverpool Street there were some steps to negotiate, but not too bad at all, and it was the tube again back to Farringdon, and home. It was tiring on the rides, but very enjoyable nevertheless, and the weather was glorious.

Holt milestone

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