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Archives for adventures

Ridgeway Redux

May 31st, 2023

I’ve been wanting to go back and walk along the ridgeway for ages: I haven’t been since 2017. Well I finally made it last weekend and walked westward from Foxhill near Swindon to the Thames at Streatley.

My favourite part is always the neolithic sites at Wayland’s Smithy and Uffington Castle, and truth be told, once I passed those it became a bit of a slog. It was really hot and the sun felt pretty intense with no shade or clouds. After 27 miles of trekking I returned home by rail replacement bus, yay.

The Hundred Foot Drain

May 21st, 2023

I first heard of the Hundred Foot Drain when I walked to Downham Market last year and I’ve wanted to go back and visit it ever since.

The Hundred Foot Drain is clearly longer than 100 feet

It’s an completely straight man-made river dug in the 17th century to drain the surrounding fens, much to the annoyance of the local fen-folk.

The surrounding countryside is mostly below sea level as well as being utterly featureless so predictably after a few miles of walking along the overgrown bank it became interminably dull and I decided to break off and head to the nearby town of March.

Wind farm next to the River Nene

March is a perfectly pleasant market town although I arrived too late to visit the local museum or other attractions. It’s also incidentally the start of the March March march which I might be forced to attempt at some point.

Centre of March

Hunstanton to Holkham Nature Reserve

May 13th, 2023

Off on another adventure to the remotest northern part of wildest Norfolk!

I continued along the coast from where I left off in Hunstanton a few months ago. I planned to walk as far as Wells-next-the-Sea but as usually that proved overly optimistic. It took ages to get back to Hunstanton – 50 minutes on the train to Kings Lynn and then another hour on a bus – so I didn’t get started until well after 11. It was also a Sunday which turned out to be a major mistake as the last bus back was at 18:30. I strode briefly onto the sands dunes at Holkham nature reserve several miles from my destination around 17:50 realised there was no way I was going to complete this mission and so retreated to the nearest bus stop at the bizarrely named Burnham Overy Staithe.

Burnham Overy Staithe

I didn’t enjoy this nearly as much as my earlier walk from Kings Lynn to Hunstanton. Despite being near the sea I hardly saw any of it (it’s all marshes) and the scenery was rather featureless and bleak. The occasional fishing villages like the one above were pleasant enough I suppose, although not enough to justify the faffing required to get there and back.


April 10th, 2023

I set out on a quest to Newmarket last weekend but the direct route suffered from a lack of footpaths so I went this very round-about way and arrived quite late.

I would recommend skipping the first part up to Fulbourn: not Cambridge’s most interesting suburbs. But after that the scenery was great, definitely the east is where all the region’s nice countryside is.

Stream near Fulborn

Here’s some strange churches I discovered at Swaffam Prior.

Unusual pair of churches at Swaffham Prior

Finally I crossed the famous Newmarket race course. Quite literally cross the course at one point as the path apparently ran across it, although the whole place was deserted at the time.

Crossing Newmarket race course


February 27th, 2023

I went for an uneventful walk to Shepreth just south of Cambridge via Granchester Meadows. There was really nothing to report: I’m just recording it here for posterity. But here’s a nice bridge over a ditch:

Kings Lynn to Hunstanton

January 29th, 2023

Ever since my previous outing to Kings Lynn I’ve been itching to try to get all the way to the coast. I decided to head for Hunstanton and get the bus back but there didn’t seem to be an obvious path along the coast. Thankfully I Googled around a bit and found this very helpful post by someone who’d done the same route. Apparently there really is no public right of way and the sea wall is surrounded by menacing PRIVATE KEEP OUT signs. Being of a rather timid disposition and not wanting to get caught trespassing I decided to take the inland route, basically the one described in the last comment. That went through Sandringham (I didn’t bump into the king) and from there out to the sea.

Hunstanton’s claim to fame is that it’s the only town in the east of England where you can watch the sun set over the sea. And I was very lucky on this incredibly clear winter day to experience exactly that!

The sun setting over the sea, a rare sight in East Anglia

As for the town itself it seemed to have all the usual seaside attractions. However I would not recommend visiting after dark in January.

Kings Lynn

January 9th, 2023

I recently continued my journey north from Ely towards the sea, ending at the port of Kings Lynn (although it isn’t exactly next to the sea). I split it into three smaller walks using the convenient railway line that runs down to Cambridge. Although you could do it in in one very long day, the challenge would be more mental than physical owing to the interminably flat and featureless fen landscape.

Typical fenland scenery

There were a few highlights along the way though like this ruined church at Wiggenhall St Peter, and the lock and pumping station near Downham Market where I learned about the “gentlemen adventurers” who drained fens and fought with the local fen folk and their geese.

Remains of the church at Wiggenhall St Peter

My mum told me Kings Lynn was rubbish and not worth visiting but I found the quayside very picturesque. There’s plenty of information boards explaining the town’s history as a port and whaling hub, and its subsequent decline with the coming of the railways. I think I’ll come back again for a final push to the sea. Onwards!

Kings Lynn port

Beeches Way

December 10th, 2022

I made a return visit to Berkshire last weekend to do one of my favourite walks, the Beeches Way between Cookham and West Drayton on the outskirts of London. On the way there I got to ride of the Elizabeth line for the first time ever which was super exciting. Only ten years late?

Leaf-strewn path near the start at Cookham

Near Fulmer, it was cloudy nearly all day

RH&DR Again

November 6th, 2022

It was my birthday last weekend so we took my niece for her first ever trip on the Romney, Hythe, and Dymchurch railway which has been feature multiple times previously on this blog.

The train is indeed minature

It rained a lot in the morning but still a great day out. And I found something interesting! Here we see an earlier version of your correspondent standing next to engine number 12 in the distant past:

Around 1988 ish

And in exactly the same location, here’s number 12 again! (It’s the same engine, I asked, they just painted it black at some point.)

2022, note the platform refurbishment

Cambridge to Ely

October 23rd, 2022

Another surprise relocation! I’ve moved to Cambridge after being turfed out of my parents’ home. Earlier this month I set off northwards on an initial exploration towards the city of Ely.

I ended up doing this over two days due to illness (not covid) but still I somehow didn’t manage to arrive in Ely until after dark so I didn’t really see anything of England’s third smallest city.

Oh, how flat and featureless the fens are! Flat terrain can sometimes be interesting to walk through if there’s some navigation challenges or other obstacles (see my recent adventures on the Romney marsh) but as I was along this river for most of the journey the middle section after leaving Cambridge was really boring. The scenery picked up a little bit towards the end though when I could see Ely cathedral in the distance from miles away.