Day 74 Monday 23 May: Or, to give it it’s full title, Wisbech to Cley-next-the-Sea and Wells-next-the-Sea, via Hunstanton, pronounced (lazily) by some as Hunston, or more affectionately by at least one local, as Sunny Hunny.
It was certainly a sunny start from Wisbech, with a somewhat cooler reception at West Lynn, where the small foot passenger ferry takes you across to King’s Lynn. It is here that I met my match. I now gracefully stand down from my podium but certainly won’t offer a helping hand up to the new Mr Grump UK. On seeing the steep, slippery looking steps and no reference to bicycles on the tariff board, I innocently asked Mr Ferryman if it was ok for me to take a heavily laden bicycle aboard. “If you can get it on, you can take it. I’m not helping lift that. If I damage my back, that’s me finished. No job.” I reassured him that I didn’t need his help. The steps were neither as steep nor as slippery as I’d feared from the top of the ramp so Fondo & I helped each other aboard and settled down for the short passage. “Not there. Lean it on that post.” Not sure who was most offended at the “it” reference. Fondo or me? “Call that heavily laden? That’s not heavy.” By now, the novelty of the ferry ride had worn off. I asked him how he could possibly know the combined weight of this bicycle and luggage, having not laid a finger of assistance upon Fondo’s frame. No more words were exchanged on this thankfully short crossing.
The ride up this side of The Wash was quite hard going, with a much cooler headwind (yes, the wind had swung round 180° overnight, as had my nasal pointer) than usual. The odd sunny spell was quite confusing. Still cycling clockwise around GB, keeping the sea on my left, East Anglia on my right, I’d grown accustomed to having the sun on my face and knees in the middle of the day. But now, it was on my back, my shadow in front of me. It’s easy to forget that Norfolk has a stretch of West facing as well as the more obvious North and East facing coastline. This Westerly bearing can easily be demonstrated at today’s first port of call, Sunny Hunny, where you can sit on the beach and watch the sun setting over the sea. After the heart and knee warming welcome at Hunstanton Lifeboat Station, with its amazing Hovercraft, jolly good people and great café right next to the RNLI Hangar and boathouse, I was very tempted to wait here for the sunset. Apparently, according to local lore, King John’s treasures are still in the wash, not far from here. He must have selected the heavily soiled programme. Thanks Robin (LOM), Andy and Paul. I’d have loved to have witnessed the ‘flight’ of the Hovercraft on a rescue mission across the sandy, muddy, watery Wash but .. a) I have another Station to tick off this afternoon, b) nobody seems to be in need of rescuing, c) it’s probably not good to be seen waiting and hoping for a life threatening emergency.
By the time I’d reached the next stop at North-facing-Wells-next-the-Sea All Weather Lifeboat Station, Alan Frary (Cox’n/mech, distinguished Lifeboatman, great local character and all round Good Man) had said goodbye to his visiting school party and had timed the fresh brew of tea to perfection. Thanks Alan, for the laughs, anecdotes and useful contacts. At low tide, yours must be the longest distance, tractor towed ALB launching in the country. Thankfully, it’s a mighty big, not too slow tractor, probably as fast as the Mersey Lifeboat in a heavy swell, into wind. Good luck with the plans for a new Lifeboat Station, with a new Shannon and it’s hi-tec launch & recovery system, maybe still a couple of years down the line. Hopefully, next time I call, I won’t need to drag a skinny tyred, over loaded Fondo over a couple of hundred yards of soft sand and shingle to and from the old boathouse. Time to cover a few more miles before finding somewhere for the night.