Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tuesday 16 April

This last Sunday was my last bike ride in and around Norwich for a little while. B's ski race training is moving to Friday nights from this week, as in the summer the race team takes part in regular races which are usually held on Sundays. Although I'm looking forward to having a bit of a lie-in on Sunday mornings again, I'm also going to miss being up early and spending several hours in the fresh air while the rest of the world is still waking up. I had also only just discovered Norwich itself. It's only for the summer though, because the ski club's timetable changes back again in October.

This Sunday I wanted to make the most of my last bike ride. The rides I enjoy the best, tend to involve water, so I decided to try and follow the Yare westwards, having discovered on an old map that there was a riverwalk part of the way, past the UEA campus, up north to meet the Wensum and follow this river eastbound back to the ski club, where the Yare and the Wensum join. It involved a lot of stops and consulting of the map, getting lost on several occasions and some moderate swearing as I found on my return that my phone had stopped tracking my route about halfway through, probably when a call came through. But, it was still a good route with several little gems discovered, and one that I'll definitely return to in the future.

Some photos:

The brickwork of an old railway bridge

This is one of the most unusual little churches I've ever seen on my bike rides. It's All Saints Church in Keswick, which is just south of Norwich (yes, also in the Lake District!). At first I thought perhaps the middle part had been damaged by a fire in the past, but when I later looked the church up on the excellent Norfolk churches site, I found it had just fallen into ruin after Britain changed to Anglicanism and there were far too many churches in Norfolk. It was restored in the late 19th century and the round apse is actually from the 1950s. Unfortunately it was closed, quite unusual for a Norfolk rural church. I would have enjoyed having a look inside.

(on the left of this window is a rather ugly concrete wall, which is why the angle on this photo is a little odd!)

A last look back at the church sitting isolated on top of the hill. Quite a special find.

By now I have cycled miles through the middle of the city, getting lost several times over and with no sign of the river, but a little further down from the church I finally find it back and along with it a fabulous old mill building. Another isolated location, must be lovely to live here.

I cycle on along a bridleway and come to a railway crossing

There were extensive instructions on how to cross - check the light, open both gates, check the light again, cross quickly, check the light, close both gates. While I was reading, a train came rushing past and you realise how fast these metal monsters are. I have to admit to having slight jelly legs when crossing!

I now follow the river for a long stretch along a public footpath, very muddy in places due to the rain we'd had overnight. I'm not really an off-roader, despite my bike being a mountain-bike - I prefer little quiet country lanes. At the end of the path I come to a large 'broad' opposite the University of East Anglia campus. It is very busy here with dog walkers, joggers and families with young children. It is interesting to see the campus but I'm glad to get away from the crowds again.

Another off-road stretch. B. and I think these are parts of an old bridge.

When I come to the Watton road, I decided to leave the Yare behind and aim north towards the Wensum, as it is time to start heading towards the ski club again. 

A last look at the river Yare and a little building in the park that I've just cycled through.

Trying to find the right route, I end up in a little close with student accommodation. I giggle to myself as I think 'anybody here will just think I'm a student' only to immediately realise that really, my student days are long over and I am more the same age as the lecturers... A few miles on I have to climb quite a steep hill in the city center, and an elderly lady on the pavement who sees me puffing calls out 'my, you must be fit!' which made me smile again.

This is the first bridge over the Wensum. One of the things I have enjoyed about Norwich is finding all the different bridges.

This one is part of a cycle path which has been made along an old railway line. It is also National Cycle Route number 1, which I know is quite scenic and passes the ski club, so I follow its sign from here on.
As time is pressing, I don't stop for any more photos. I get back to the ski club just as B is coming out and we have our usual moccha up in the bar. As I said, my phone stopped tracking my route around the point where I started heading eastwards again, but I did about 20 miles.

Before B started skiing, I used to cycle a lot at weekends with his house as starting point. The drawback of my bike rides on Sunday mornings has been having to keep an eye on the time, and I'm quite looking forward to doing longer rides in South Norfolk again. Nothing much can beat keeping fit in the fresh air while you're discovering your neighbourhood!