Archive for the ‘Wide Coast to Coast’ Category

Tent replacement

A new tent was needed and the Vango banshee 200 has many good reviews so i ordered one and will see how it compares with the Coleman x1 that finally broke after great service.

The instructions were as brief as seems to be normal but figuring it out was no great problem, this tent assembles flysheet first and then clip the inner in place, it’s said that once this is done then the two can be left assembled for a single rig in the future, so i have left them together and will try pitching that way on another day. The poles do seem to be under less stress (shallower curves) which may prove a plus, it is certainly roomy compared with the x1 but of course weighs a little more, it has 50% more pegs and the number of guy ropes suggests maybe more stable in the wind.

One concern with the larger size is that the x1 could be pitched in an obviously smaller space when need be, hopefully it will be used on the trail soon and time will reveal any strengths/weaknesses.


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Sheltered life

Grimston to Hunstanton (4/5 June) , 21.1 miles, windy.

After an ashes to ashes event i had some time to explore before a welcome lift home, so set of east from a relatives in Grimston along the road towards Massingham, the day was pleasantly warm with sunshine and clouds making the quiet road through farmland perfectly pleasant. At Stonepit hills i turned north east through the woodland and a gentle climb, soon to be surprised by the first humming bird hawkmoth of the year flitting flower to flower on the woodland verge.

The path gradually errs more northerly towards Harpley dams (no dams, so the name is unexplained) where a short stretch is along the old rail track bed and then turn slightly west of north on the peddars way, here i had the luck of passing a lady watering her plants with a hose and i was cheeky enough to ask if i might top up my water bottle for the night , she was quite happy with this and assured me as expected there were no services for some miles.

The peddars way is a straight trail of roman decent and so is easy to follow with confirmation signs at regular intervals, the terrain does gently roll over low level hills so wouldn’t be described as taxing. It must have been gone three pm before i started walking and being a saturday on a named trail i was surprised not to meet any other walker until at 7.30pm a man walking his dog came the other way, later i met a couple walking three grey hounds, other than this it had been me and the countryside, a mixture of wild life including two large collections of rabbits (maybe they feel safety in numbers or those areas where particularly good grass).

At Little port the path takes quite the kinked diversion around what i guess is someones private land (this is signed so no problem),  soon after i thought i could see a group of people with a small fire in the track ahead which seemed like my eyes were playing tricks on me, but lo and behold when i reached the spot, there were three army people (two men one woman) with their oil fired can spluttering its way out of fuel as they had just made a brew. Now you may wonder as do i just how lucky can we be, they were interested in what hikes i had done, gave me a large tea, and it transpired they had started at the start of the peddars way 5.30 that morning, and were taking turns with two walking and one taking the car ahead, the lady was one of those specials that i meet each year and am nothing but impressed. She had covered 43 miles so far (that day) and was still going on, they were turning east at the coast with the plan of making Cromer the next day.

After drinking tea, discussing feet maps and many other subjects i walked on with two of them until 9pm when with light fading i chose to stop for the night on a wide rough grass field margin, so it’s wish my companions well on their journey and now to pitch the wonky tent (oh sometimes three hands would be an advantage), job done i made a bed time brew and turned in glad of the hedges shelter from the increasing north/easterly wind. 4 am the dunnock was singing his little heart out in the hedge right by me and so that was the end of sleep, cook a dried rice meal and coffee for breakfast, on the path 5.30 am, a gorgeous morning except for that darn wind.

The peddars way continues straight on until Ringstead where it does take a few turns (all signed ) and it was in this village i came across one of the hikers friends in the form of a bus shelter.

Bus shelters are great for a rest out of the wind, rain or just to drop the pack and take a comfy snack while checking the map, they appear randomly trail side and are random in their design and material structure, there is no guarantee that one will be seen in a day, but sometimes i must admit the sight of one has been just the best uplift and i should praise them more often.

The route continues to the sand dunes at Holme next the sea where there was no shelter from the wind, i soon noticed a dog called come here (well that’s what his owner kept shouting) as i passed the golf course, fifteen minutes later “come here” was still ahead and kept looking lovingly back at me and i was beginning to think i had gained a companion when he noticed some one else out on the golf course and set of to follow him. Every where was still not open at Old Hunstanton and a snack was looking unlikely untill tourist hour, except when i reached the old rail station (site of ) in Hunstanton there was great activity in temporary market stalls being set up and yes a breakfast van was amongst them, and yes i could have an egg/bacon bap with a tea, oh simple pleasure enjoying this on a park bench while occasionally hearing some colourful language from a stall owner as the wind blew a display over (so Norfolk gals know how to swear).

On to the southern end of Hunstanton to meet with family and tell tales of my mini adventure, i later learnt that Hunstanton is considered one of the great places for kite boarding and so the wind i winged about had attracted a great number of participants part flying along the coastal water.

I should mention how impressed i was with the army people i met, friendly and generous, they were walking for “Help for heroes” a charity for the war wounded that has achieved a huge amount demonstrating how much this country respects its armed forces (doesn’t matter if one is pro or anti the war), it will be a pleasure to meet more of them over the year as i did last year.

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18.8 miles (Total for the hike = 440.6 miles).

cloudy, breezy, some sunshine.

That must have been a comfortable pitch as i slept like a log to be woken by the dawn chorus and on the the trail at six fifteen, walked into Bungay to find no where open. I took the cycle route out of town and finding the Angles way makes a loop to the south, i instead took the minor roads close to the river to Shipmeadow, good move pretty and only saw one car. Now back on the Angles way to Beccles to find a bacon roll and tea, this seemed a very nice and busy town considering it was still quite early in the day. By now the river waveny is quite big compared with yesterday and Beccles has a fair selection of small docks/marinas, the route out of town proved a bit tricky and finding the information centre was the key to then getting on the Angles way around the marina and onto a flood defence bank which is the route riverside for some distance, this is really nice again across water meadows with cattle and drainage ditches, the last part into Oulton past the wildlife centre was a perfect joy but needs the map as it meanders around over little foot bridges and a nice end before the conurbation of Lowestoft is crossed.

The town is as big and busy as one might imagine, i walked past an awful lot of queuing traffic, the holiday weekend has obviously attracted many visitors to the area. Once down near the town centre finding the most easterly point was aided once i realised its position by a large wind generator, the eastern marker being behind this.

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26.3 miles.

Cloud, showers, improved later.
I was very pleased to wake and find the wonky tent had stayed up through the night and the winds had eased.
Breakfast was soup and bread for a change, coffee, then pack and back on the Angles way by six. This is a super path, fen, river bank, woodland, scrub, farmland and small amount of road just has to provide ever changing views, seen plenty of insects, shell ducks, , egret and startled an owl of its breakfast.
Fairly early i was passing a field of pigs as their breakfast was approaching on a tractor, they knew the sound of that tractor and were noisy with excitement.
As i entered Diss i missed the turning for town centre so took the next one, then a car pulled up and asked directions to the school, i think the map provided answer, next i came upon a sandwich van, so proper breakfast was enjoyed and no need to find town centre.
The trail wiggles about a bit to get out of Diss so i took main road to Scole , it has pavement, then back on the pleasant plodding, got followed by horses and cattle, barked at by dogs, hey that’s part of a normal day.

At Homersfield the path weaves south and with time in mind i moved north onto the cycle route which was dead quiet and so a fine stroll into town.
The campsite couldn’t be more helpful, they are fully booked so i have a nearby meadow to myself with access to facilities, they also found a piece of hose pipe to aid the broken tent pole , this is looking better. All in all a rather good day.

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19.2 miles.

Cloudy, windy, showers.

After a great night spent with Andy and Ledog, its back on the trail often sheltering from showers which probably made progress slow. Brandon seems to have all services and i quite liked the town. I crossed Thetford forest diagonally shadowing the road, and what a great forest with extensive paths through mixed woodland some of it pine plantation and heath land.

Thetford has a dads army museum and i came across a statue of captain mannering in one park.

To leave Thetford i went a little north on the cycle route to Kilveston where a super store was used for supplies, i then continued on this route to Shadwell where i could use the peddars way south for a short distance (if this little section is a likeness for the whole peddars way then what a bute that would be to walk).

Now joining the Angles way east and it sure is pretty (despite the showers) including passing an old windmill.

The weather was starting to deteriorate to strong gusts with rain and this was bringing darkness early when i found some shelter under an oak tree on some marsh land, the peaty surface is great to sleep on but doesn’t hold tent pegs particularly firm so erecting the wonky tent was a trial much reliance on its support falling to the rear guy rope which pulls against the broken pole. Really could have done with three hands to hold various clips and pegs in line while i struggled to get the job done as the gusts and rain kept parts flapping around, there are no rocks in this environment so i hunted for lumps of wood to pile on pegs in the hope of keeping the tent up and with jaded nerves i slipped inside the cosy space compared with out side.  I was to tired to feel like cooking so just a mug of coffee and i laid back with fingers crossed the storm would go away and slipped into the land of dreams.

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23.2 miles.

More sun, less wind, it got hot.
Other campers friendly and made me tea, bought box of eggs on site to augment my meals, only problem was nearby road noise.
The early morning was great as i opened the fly sheet then crack a tent pole broke for no apparent reason on a bend where repair tube wont work, so hope for now i can still pitch lob sided tent.
Walked into Ely and the cathedral is just to big to fit in a single  photo,

 no cafe open but found small store for pie and take out coffee.
Walk east and find way across river and canal onto Herewards way which after just a few miles seems to have no signage, map kept me on it, museum at Pickwillow closed.
At Shippea hill station a small interest was wheres the hill, the biggest climb of day was a bridge.
More interesting was finding the station had manual signal box and crossing gates, the operator said they are due replacement over the next year,

 as the Hereward trail leaves here along field margin it means getting over stream on a flat bridge that has plenty of holes in it.
At sedge fen diverted of Hereward way for Lakenheath to get snack and drink, then back to Hereward way at lakenheath station where the path shadows the railway  to Brandon which had no signs but was easy to follow. Today the fields containing salad and root crops became abundant and due to the dry weather so were their creeping irrigation machines.

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21.7 miles.

Clouds and sunshine, wind less than yesterday but still gusting at times.
What a great day mostly on the Ouse valley way, the old mill is a picture as is much of Houghton, soon into woodland with birds singing including the cuckoo, heard a young wood pecker calling for food from its nest (they can be noisy), surprised to see a jogger so early.
When i reached St Ives i found shop open for bacon roll and tea (breakfast seemed to have worn off quickly), i also found out Oliver Cromwell lived here for some time.

The path moves onto river flood embankment for most of day care still needed with map at times  i found myself back tracking near Holywel to find footbridge over stream, not to many path signs, and occasionally their direction is vague, but from here on it was straight forward.
At one point there is a carved stone trailside marking the Greenwich meridian crossing.

Carry on dodging cattle and enjoy the panoramic scenery plus wave at barges passing by on the river, at Earith a small shop provided roll and orange juice, at chear fen while taking a pack of rest i was luck to see a kingfisher darting about the river, Elford closes besides an odd name had a pub where a pot of tea was drained then carry on to here , two acres campsite, 12 pounds the most expensive so far but good shelter from the wind. Another great day.


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