December 10th, 2023
The days are short and cold and strangely misty so I went for a less ambitious walk this week from Thetford to nearby Brandon.
Between the two is the aptly named Thetford Forest. An enormous man-made forest planted after the first world war to replenish Britain’s stock of trees. There is something quite regular about the rows of trees.
When I got to Brandon they were having some sort of Christmas fête to which the ever-present mist gave a somewhat gloomy and mysterious atmosphere.
The train back was one of two trains per day scheduled to call at Shippea Hill which was once Britain’s least-used station until its notoriety led to an increase in passengers (no one got on or off today).
December 9th, 2023
Last time when I stopped in Oakham I forgot to mention one of its most famous attractions: Oakham signal box which was used as the template for an Airfix model.
Oakham signal box
And here’s the model of it
Oakham has one other attraction which is the “castle” you can see in the photos below. (It’s not really a castle, it’s a “hall” at best.)
From Oakham I walked on to Melton Mowbray. My first visit to Leicestershire and I was pleasantly surprised! Lots of rolling hills and even the remains of this iron age fort at Burrough Hill.
Hill fort on Burrough Hill
Melton Mowbray is of course famous for its PIES (and Stilton cheese apparently) so I had to sample one and very tasty it was too.
A Melton Mowbray pork pie from Melton Mowbray
November 19th, 2023
Recently I’ve been following the Birmingham to Peterborough railway line (in the reverse direction) and the next stop is Oakham in Rutland, England’s smallest county!
Today’s walk traversed three counties! Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, and Rutland. The latter two are firsts for doof.me.uk which is always exciting.
This is Rutland Water, England’s largest reservoir by surface area. It’s also man-made: that building was once the church of the village of Normanton which was flooded when the reservoir was constructed.
November 18th, 2023
Back on the road again and this time heading north-west from Peterborough.
Last time when I reached Peterborough it was already dark so I didn’t get to explore much. Here’s the cathedral.
The rest of city is a bit a of a dump to be honest. I wouldn’t recommend it.
From there I walked along the river Nene to Stamford in Lincolnshire which is altogether nicer.
The town is very picturesque with all the buildings made out of local limestone (the picture below is from a second visit when I returned in the daytime). There’s also a lot of independent shops and restaurants. It seemed so nice in fact that I wondered why I’d never heard of it before. But it turns out I’m just ignorant as the Sunday Times voted it as the best place to live in the Midlands. Unfortunately that means the house prices are all outrageously high and locals can’t afford to live there any more.
October 27th, 2023
I’ve wanted to continue walking along the North Sea coast since my trip to Sheringham back in June but the next section was quite daunting as the nearest town accessible by public transport was Great Yarmouth about 33 miles away. However I plucked up some courage and stayed overnight in Cromer so I could get an earlier start and began the epic mission!
At 33.7 miles this was close to a doof.me.uk record, beaten only by my trek along Watership Down back in 2015.
The scenery wasn’t all that exciting: just miles and miles of sand dunes and sea wall. And I didn’t stop to look around much as I was trying to keep my average pace above 3mph.
October 16th, 2023
I was struck by the scene of utter desolation on the cover of the Peterborough OS map and knew I had to visit. So I hastily planned a trip starting from March where I left off before.
How I longed to be that that guy trudging head-down along a muddy canal bank.
Actually it wasn’t that bad. Just very flat. And straight. There are some interesting places beyond Peterborough too like Rutland Water and “Leicestershire” so stay tuned.
September 29th, 2023
Back on the road again! And this time I’m exploring Suffolk. Bury St Edmunds to be exact. Here’s the cathedral, which along with the ruins of the abbey is the main attraction of the town. Although those also a large market and lots of independent shops.
Burt St Edmunds cathedral
First I walked from Newmarket to Bury, and then on a second day from Bury to Thetford. The second section was perhaps more interesting, except the it which involved several miles walking down a dead-straight track through a forest.
Thetford has a bit of a Dad’s Army theme: apparently it was filmed there! They have a museum (closed by the time I arrived) and a new statue in the town centre.
Captain Mainwaring’s statue
July 14th, 2023
A few days after my Sheringham outing I walked a bit further along the coast to Cromer with my mum.
Cromer is another traditional seaside resort. On the way there we passed through an area said to be haunted by a supernatural dog that was the inspiration for the Hound of the Baskervilles.
While we were staying in Sheringham we also paid a visit to the local preserved heritage railway line. It was a bit short so I probably wouldn’t recommend riding on it all day.
North Norfolk Railway
June 30th, 2023
My parents were staying in Sheringham for a week recently which was very convenient as I’d been slowly walking in that general direction along the Norfolk coast. So I made a return visit to Burnham Overy Staithe and set off over the sand dunes.
Not long after I started I encountered this swimming race. Except it was low tide or something and in the middle of the river is a large sandbank which forced the swimmers to walk instead. It was mildly entertaining.
A few days later I ended up back at Burnham Overy Staithe again and bought this memento. Apparently it’s one of a number of similar cups commissioned from a local potter with inspiration from the scenery of Burhnam Overy Staithe.
The essence of Burnham Overy Staithe in cup form
For a coastal path there was surprisingly little sight of the sea. Instead there were endless marshes and salt flats. Eventually I ended up in this charming little village Cley-next-the-Sea.
You should always be careful what you wish for, and so my wish to see more of the sea was cruelly granted with a gruelling 5+ mile hike over the pebble beach. I would have gone further inland to find firmer ground but unfortunately the way was blocked by a minefield (I’m not making this up, it’s part of the Muckleburgh Military Collection site). Eventually I reached a path up the cliffs and into Sheringham. Won’t be repeating that section again.
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.