Friday 28 December 2018

Festive 500: Rail trails in England - Day 5

Marriott's Way - Norwich

Kms ridden: 40
Running total: 342
Kms left: 168
Refreshments: 150ml water
Weather: Cloudy but mild 12 degC

Highlight: Marriott's Way

Ride on Strava
Norwich - Drayton - Lenwade - Norwich

This was a long and a short day - long because I had an early wake-up call in order to do my chores before leaving the house for a few days; I stopped off briefly to visit my sister before getting in the car to drive to Norwich to do a more Festive 500 riding.

As ever, due to cramming in various other chores I set off later than planned, and by the time I started my bike ride it was 2.30pm.

I had bemoaned starting my Brighton stage at almost 1pm, or starting my Kent coastal ride at midday. But I felt I really had surpassed myself today by setting off in the mid-afternoon!

The plan had been to ride Marriott's Way and another nearby trail called Bure Valley path, but I realised that the latter would be done in darkness. That was something that bothered me - not necessarily the idea of riding in the dark. After all, my USE Exposure lights would have been perfect for illuminating my trail.

For me, the issue was that when riding somewhere for the first time, particularly somewhere scenic it's nice to be able to appreciate the beauty of the area. That's not something you can do in pitch black!

I started the trail from near where I was parked in Hellesdon - I was too much in a rush to take any other photos

So I resigned myself to just getting on with it, while understanding that not seeing the landscape around the Bure Valley path is my penance for setting off late.

From the Hellesdon neighbourhood of Norwich where I parked, it was a short ride to reach the Marriott's Way. This is a very pleasant woodland trail that passes arable fields and parks.
It would have been nice to just zoom along this path to reach Aylsham, the end of the Marriott's Way and the start of the Bure Valley path.

However, it wasn't to be as the trail was slow-going. This was a forest bridleway, with a lot of muddy sections - the polar opposite of the smooth tarmacked Bristol-Bath path. Furthermore, this was not a continuous off-road path. Sections of it would go on-road and I had to keep my eyes peeled for the blue signboards indicating the directions to the next section of the trail. At one point I missed the sign and ended up completely lost. Even when I asked one of the locals about how to get to the Marriott Way she was clueless. Do the locals here really not give a toss about their rail trails?

I eventually found my way after having lost a bit of time, but as the going was soft I would not have been able to match the speeds I had done on other rail trails.

Maybe the lady I had asked for directions was not representative because there were actually quite a lot of people on the trails - walking, on family bike rides, and a few horse riders.

Onwards I pressed until my route came to an abrupt halt when a bridge over the River Wensum was closed, meaning I had to make a diversion via a busy main road.

Initially I stood there lamenting at the possibility of another delay to my ride. In the end I saw it as a blessing in disguise. I had ridden far enough to return to Norwich while still getting in a reasonable mileage.

I decided I wasn't going to do the Bure Valley Path, and instead I would make my way over to my lodgings and enjoy a relaxing evening. Well, with all this travelling around I think I deserved a rest. So back to Norwich I went!

My return to Norwich was quite fast - it may have been that I felt motivated to get back to my car, but it was more the fact that the path was slightly downhill.

After a quick spin around the city centre, which I can't tell you much about because it was dark, I returned to my car and made tracks to Wisbech where I would stay for the night.

This is definitely a place I will return to next year, and do the Full Monty of trails. But for today I was satisfied with my taster.

Related Posts
Festive 500: Rail trails in England - Day 4

Festive 500: Rail trails in England - Day 3

Festive 500: Rail trails in England - Day 2

Festive 500: Rail trails in England - Day 1


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