Avoiding the rain = hitting the grit
Well folks, the weather across almost the entire British Isles was an utter disaster for the planned weekend (9-11 August 2019) so my eldest brother Shay (who hasn't camped in over 25 years), mate Marcus (pretty boy, new Honda Africa Twin) and I decided to go where the weather was least worst...which turned out to be Norfolk, the almost precise opposite of our planned trip to Wales. No mountains, no reservoirs, no sheep and about as far from Wales as you can get without leaving England.
On the upside the weather stayed mostly dry but the wind was almost gale force and with little in the way of hills to slow it down we had to fully peg down the tents to avoid a Dorothy moment.
After meeting up at the Iron Horse Cafe in Market Deeping, which is a pricey American Diner type place with a bit of biking paraphenelia and pretty good baby-back ribs we made our way across the bleak, flat as a pancake Fenlands around Peterborough towards Norfolk. Little in the way of corners and the closest thing to the empty plains of mid west America as there is in the UK. With an abundance of hypnotised caravaners, over-loaded agricultural transports and frustrated Audis we had to keep on our toes, making gradual progress mostly by long overtakes and lots of filtering through queues approaching roundabouts. This area is not biking country.
With it being Friday afternoon mid school holidays, once we had passed Kings Lyn and started to hit more interesting roads we started seeing more and more of the rushing Londoners trying to get a last minute break in. The standard of driving dropped further and the need for our intercoms to help each other safely pass traffic became more and more vital.
Eventually we arrived at the site, a bit disappointed by the ride in but all giggly about the weekend feeling that we'd cheated the system as we experience a beautiful dry evening.
We even had time to pop down to Whitley and Reepham station to experience a Norfolk bike night. Suffice it to say that the highlights were a hand polished Norton cafe racer and a Suzuki-engined Harris-framed street fighter. The downside was a compete lack of burger van so back to the town of Holt for a dirty kebab, eaten in a bus shelter as we caught the only rain of the weekend.Friday route
Saturday's original plan was to do the northern and eastern section of the coastal road, stop at A11 cafe south of Norwich and then make our way westward to Lizzies place at Sandringham before completing the coastal loop before getting the beers and bangers in for a campside evening. We only really got the latter done as I will explain.
As told, the Friday traffic was not great and on Saturday morning had improved little. Added to that the Norfolk council had gritted the roads a few weeks before so there was lots of grit on most corners, with the added benefit of busy tractors (some of the size of Thunderbird 5) leaving dirty gallops of oomshka at random points plus a very high wind blowing sand and dust across the road...with 40mph plus winds bursting through gaps in the hedges sending us across the width of the lane. This made for interesting
riding to say the least. So muggins here decided to make a random stop for a coastal photo opportunity, which turned out to be a sandy single lane with an off camber ramp/turning point at the end...end result our kid took a theatrical dismount off his 300kg Beemer. Let me tell you, picking those things up hurts almost as much as falling off one.Saturday morning route
So, we took Shay back to the site to recuperate, privately shed tears over the ridiculous amount of panel damage such a small drop had caused and to find a cat to kick. Marcus and I then took off along the coast road westwards to Hunstanton.
The coastal road has the potential to be fairly epic but with villages, speed restrictions and caravans it ended up being a bimble more than a blast and the few sections that opened up a bit were disrupted by old ladies pulling out in front of us. We stopped at Hunstanton for a cuppa and a slice before making our way back to the site inland.
After a more enjoyable cross country ride, due to the inland roads being quieter and the generally better conditions (although there was the usual random pile of grit, poo and communists at random places) we arrive at the site loaded with meat and drink for an evening of banter. Turns out Shay being on site for the afternoon was a blessing as my tent nearly lost a few pegs and I might have ended up top and tailing with Marcus as well as looking for a new tent on Amazon.Saturday afternoon route
We had the pleasure of a glorious sunset and toddled off for a kip, hoping the tents remained attached to the ground and our bikes stayed upright. Woke early next day to see a fantastic sunrise.
Tents packed and bikes loaded by mid morning so time for a breakfast before making our way back. The return to our various homes turned out to be more eventful than the planned Saturday route; I stopped a road rage scrap between two cockneys, came upon the immediate aftermath of a 3 car example of extreme parking (all three in a roadside Cotswold wood with one on its roof) and Marcus almost got taken out by a Polish VW golf who decide to drift across her lane to get a closer look at his fancy (but useless) crash bars.
All in all, not the weekend we planned but plenty to enjoy. Norfolk is not the biker heaven I thought it might be, especially during peak season traffic. It is however worth seeing if only for the unique landscape and to test your technical riding skills.
Weekend - 7/10
Road conditions - 4/10
Traffic - 3/10
Banter - 9/10