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Archives for 2024

Corby

July 21st, 2024

I’ve been fascinated by Corby for a while now, and my desire to travel there has taken on quest like properties similar to that time I wouldn’t stop talking about Selby. What’s so special about Corby you ask? Two facts: it once had an unemployment rate over 30% and its Asda sells more Irn-Bru per capita than anywhere else in England. These are somewhat related as the town was once dominated by a massive steel mill which attracted large numbers of Scottish migrant workers in the early twentieth century. When the steel mill closed in the 1980s it devastated the local economy.

I did this as a two day 51 mile epic as it’s quite difficult to travel anywhere other than south from Corby by train. Starting in Huntingdon which I walked to earlier in the year and finishing in Oakham in Rutland which I’ve also visited previously.

The going was very slow due to the atrocious state of the footpaths in some areas. Eventually late in the evening I discovered this unfinished 16th century manor house at Lyveden. It’s a National Trust property but you can freely walked around the grounds.

I was expecting Corby to be some nightmarish post-industrial hell-scape but it was actually just a normal mid-sized town. The steel mill is gone and replaced with huge logistics parks and warehouses. The main local landmark is The Cube, the rather imposing home of North Northamptonshire council which you can see in the photos below. The highlight of the short time I spent there was hearing someone in Greggs (presumably a local) speaking in a strong Scottish accent, proving that at least some of Corby’s cultural heritage is still alive and well.

Felixstowe

June 16th, 2024

Another visit to Suffolk, this time I’m trying to get to Felixstowe following a detour around the Orford marshes.

The long spit of land between my path and sea is Orford Ness which is now a nature reserve but in the past was used as a nuclear weapons testing site (I don’t think they actually exploded anything there).

This mission had a touch of urgency since I needed to cross the river at Bawdsey by ferry which only runs in summer and stops at 5pm. I got there in time but unfortunately the ferry was nowhere to be seen.

Luckily I found this “bat” which I waved frantically while looking like an idiot, and to my surprise it did actually summon the ferry.

I didn’t know much about Felixstowe before setting out, apart from that it’s home to Britain’s largest port, so I expected it to be rather industrial. But apart from the cranes in the distance it turned out to be a perfectly pleasant seaside town. Reminded me a bit of Folkstone.

Sizewell

May 31st, 2024

A pox on the weather forecasters! I booked the hotel for this trip a few days in advance when the forecast was still “sunny with clouds” but by the night before it had deteriorated to “heavy rain”, which unfortunately proved accurate.

So I spent the first half of the trip getting increasingly wet. But it eased off eventually and finally stopped once I arrived Sizewell, best known for its two nuclear power stations.

Sizewell B

The big white golf ball is Sizewell B, which is still operating. Lurking behind it is the grey shell of Sizewell A which was decommissioned in 2006 but won’t be demolished until 2098 at the earliest.

Southwold

May 22nd, 2024

Time to continue my trek around East Anglia after a long pause since my epic mission to Great Yarmouth last year. This time I’m off to Southwold via Lowestoft.

Great Yarmouth in the fog early on a Saturday morning is not the most inspiring place to be. The town has clearly seen better days. I’d spent the night in a Wetherspoons which sounds grim but was surprisingly nice.

Ness Point

After a frustrating section trudging through sand dunes I eventually came to Lowestoft, and this nondescript disk which is Ness Point the most Easterly place in the United Kingdom.

UKD Orca after passing through the bridge

Lowestoft harbour has a rather exciting bridge which splits in the middle and raises up to allow ships through. In this case it was UKD Orca, “a modern and highly versatile trailing suction hopper dredger”, so there you go.

Southwold pier

After a brief detour through the lovely interior of Suffolk I arrived in Southwold, snapped a picture of the pier, and then ran off to catch the last bus back to Lowestoft followed by another one and a half hour bus to Norwich. Hooray for the £2 fare cap.

Tring to High Wycombe

May 19th, 2024

Last month I had to go empty a bucket (don’t ask) and to not make the whole day a total write-off I went for a bit of a walk too, from Tring to High Wycombe. Route-wise it was more-or-less a direct repeat of my walk to Aylesbury in 2015, although I only realised that after the fact.

At Wendover I passed through the massive HS2 construction site. This was most definitely not here the last time I passed through.

HS2 construction site

March March March

March 31st, 2024

The official website describes the March March March as “a long, flat, pointless walk across the Fens from the town of March to Cambridge, a distance of about thirty miles”. With a description like that I simply had to experience it. Except I did it in the reverse direction from Cambridge to March.

A flat field and a flat, wet path

It certainly was long (33.9 miles) and very flat. And arguably quite pointless.

There was almost nothing of interest along that route except the end of the the Hundred Foot Drain, which I failed to get an adequate photo of.

Yet another perfectly flat field

Huntingdon

February 29th, 2024

A few weeks ago we had a “day of care” and it was one of the very rare dry days this winter so I set off towards the nearby town of Huntingdon.

For me at least I only know about Huntingdon because of the company Huntingdon Life Sciences which was targeted by animal rights extremists for many years. But apparently it was also the birthplace of Oliver Cromwell, so there you go.

American cemetery

On the way I passed through the American cemetery at Madingley. Jazz musician Glen Miller has a memorial here, along with thousands of other Americans who died in the second world war.

Wind farm at sunset

Predictably I underestimated the distance again and walked the last hour in darkness.

Crossing the Fens

January 26th, 2024

A long and rather featureless walk through the bleak fens last weekend. There was no one else around. It was cold, and rained slightly.

The black soil here is quite typical of the fenland: it’s actually some of England’s most fertile soil. A result of the drainage several hundred years ago.