Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sunday 24 March

We're still suffering snow, ice and bitterly cold easterly winds here in the UK. 'This is the winter that just keeps on giving', the BBC weather man said earlier this week, which did make me laugh. I'm quite ready for some sunshine and a bit more warmth, but so is everybody else and there's nothing much we can do about it, so no point in moaning.

Normally on my Sunday morning bike rides I tend to leave Norwich behind and explore the little villages in the countryside. Because of that strong easterly wind and because I was coming down with a cold and didn't want to venture too far, I decided to head into Norwich itself last Sunday. I don't know the city that well at all. B. and I've been to restaurants (Shiki is one of our favourites) and we've been to the cinema and bowling, but they're not in the prettiest parts. I had noticed before the city seems to have a large number of churches but didn't realise quite how old it was. I thought I'd try and follow the river Wensum towards the west, specially as there was a riverwalk most of the way which I should be able to cycle early on Sunday morning as many people are still in bed at that time! Be warned, this is quite a photo heavy post. I only did 9 miles but spent 2.5 hours on the bike, stopping frequently to take photos.

This is the start of the riverwalk, near Carrow Bridge and the Norwich City football ground.

Renovated warehouses - I love warehouses and there were plenty of them along this route.

One that still needs doing up

This was one of my favourite discoveries of the bike ride. I had noticed on the map I had brought with me that there was a little ferry across the river. B. had told me it wasn't in use anymore but was probably started when they built the cathedral, to bring building materials across the river. I liked this little building and stopped to take a photo, and suddenly realised that this was in fact Pulls Ferry.

One of the things I liked about this bike ride were the many bridges over the river, most of them with a pub at one end. This is Bishop Bridge.

At most points during my ride the cathedral was visible in the distance.

I lost my back light here... When I took the photo of Pulls Ferry, my bike fell over in the wind. It's quite a sturdy bike but the bottle holder broke off and the back light came off. I put it back on, then a little later on when I was taking a photo here, I grabbed the saddle to move the bike, accidentally pushing the light which came off again, bounced a couple of times on the paving slab and promptly splashed into the river! It made me wonder what else you'd find if you dredged the river...

This was a piece of art by two students from the Norwich University College of Arts (which is quite nearby). At first I thought the leaves were part of it, but the piece had collected water which had frozen in the cold weather, trapping the fallen leaves.
There was a little information plaque about it:

This old mill, St. James Mill, is now the head office for Jarrolds, a local department store. Not much of the mill survives.

This is Whitefriars Bridge, which I crossed to take the picture of the old mill.

 Another peek at the cathedral

This road is called Quayside, appropriately enough! It reminded me vaguely of little towns in Holland. The railway sleepers symbolise the packages that would be unloaded here, and are engraved with the names of people who used to work here.

This is Fye Bridge - aren't all those old names fabulous?

One of the packages with a local name

Another one of those old street names: Pigg Lane.

This is the Norwich Technology Institute, a fabulous Victorian building now used for the Arts department of the university if I remember correctly.

A few other views of the same building. The wind was whistling down this road and my hands were turning blue with taking pictures and figuring out the map.
I took a wrong turn here and lost the river for a bit, but found a sweet little part of Norwich along the way:

A little stairway between a church and another building, connecting two slightly bigger roads.

A little further along and I come across a pumping station

There was a sign on the building about a charity working towards restoration of the pumping station, but looking online I found the group was dissolved a while ago. It seems a shame, as the station is one of only two air compressor pumping stations in Britain.

A little further upriver marked my return point, as by now I was close to leaving Norwich and it was time to head back to the ski club anyway (besides, by now I was actually getting quite cold!)

I did make a little detour to visit the cathedral grounds though - after having seen it from a distance, I couldn't not visit. I'd only ever seen it in the dark after we'd had a meal nearby last year, and didn't realise quite how stunning it was.

The cathedral sits in its own grounds and this is one of the entrances where you can just see the back of the cathedral. This entrance was private and I had to cycle a little further to find an entrance with public access.

There are some cloisters by the side of the cathedral which provide a wonderful frame for endless photos...

One last look at the river
Back on Carrow Bridge but looking in the opposite direction of my starting point. In fact, this was heading east and extremely windy! I now made straight for the ski club, looking forward to our usual moccha after B. finishes his training session.

I have since discovered that Norwich County Council have set up specific bike trails in and around Norwich and publish a Norwich Cycle Map which you can request. It arrived in the post earlier this week and it is full of things I have yet to discover. I predict many more happy hours of exploring the city on bike - I am hoping with some sunshine at some point too :-)