Thursday 1 September 2016

To The Gateway to The Broads (C#35)
Thursday 1 September, 106 Miles

Having enjoyed a few away days recently I decided to do one of my regular century routes today by heading east to Halesworth and then across to the Waveney Valley at Bungay. And to ring the changes I thought I would head a bit further east to Beccles which I don’t think I’ve ever been to before (by bike or any other means). I have certainly driven past the place many times on the way to Lowestoft or Great Yarmouth.

Reassuringly as I set off my brain was free of the nagging worries of last Tuesday (C#35). So if I had forgotten anything I was blissfully unaware of it! I made good time to Stradbroke and Halesworth before heading north past those delightful South Elmham villages that I wrote about a few weeks ago (C#25). Then after dropping down into the Waveney Valley I was soon at Bungay and on the threshold of today’s goal.

As I’ve said many times before and will no doubt say many more times, one of the delights of riding in a new area are encounters with the unexpected. And the unexpected can present itself in unexpected ways. I’ve noticed over the last few years a growth in number of people selling free range eggs. Initially these seemed to be the business of householders selling from their front doors, presumably aiming to earn a little extra on the back of keeping a few chickens. More recently I’ve seen a growth in the number of places selling free range eggs from the farm gate on what I would describe as an industrial scale. Quite a few of these places now seem to have a brightly coloured sign usually depicting a happy chuck or even a happy flock presumably intended to catch the eye of passers-by. Well today’s unexpected moment came in the form of a couple of chicken cut outs advertising prize winning sausages. Now, maybe they do things differently round here (we are very close to Norfolk) but have you ever had a chicken snorker? I certainly haven’t!

Anyway putting the local delicacies to one side I headed on to Beccles which promotes itself as the gateway to The Broads. Beccles really impressed me. It’s an attractive and bustling market town with some impressive architecture. Most of the recent building has been to the south and east of the town which combined with a northern bypass for the busy major road has meant that the town centre is largely unspoilt. The town sits above the River Waveney which, judging by the number of boatyards, is certainly a gateway to the Broads if not THE gateway. I have half an idea forming of a century ride round the Broads starting and finishing in Beccles. So watch this space …….

Leaving Beccles I rode through Gillingham which threw me slightly – I passed the ‘other’ Gillingham last Sunday on my way back from the East Kent ride. I then turned north to Loddon where I paused to refill my bottles. From there I passed through Seething. My dictionary defines ‘seething’ as being agitated (by anger, excitement etc.). Well everyone must have been out today because it was a pretty sleepy place with not a soul to be seen.

Leaving Seething to its own devices I then headed generally southwestwards to rejoin the ‘standard’ route for the last 20 miles home. Riding a familiar route brings its own interests and today I noticed that a gradual and quite subtle change in the countryside is taking place. Gone is the lush green vegetation; it is now a rather duller shade. The grain harvest is largely complete and the fields have wonderful hues of gold and bronze or else a have rich brown colour as the farmers rush to plough and sow their next crops. The end of summer may just be approaching. What will autumn bring?

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