Leigh-on-Sea to Lincoln and beyond

Carol Cartwright and Sheelagh Mayhead are on the road again.

No Garmin for us: Sheelagh had plotted our ride using OS maps and Sustran guides.  We left Leigh on Wednesday 24th June at 9.00 and amazingly lasted until Blackmore before tea and tea cakes were required. Energy levels raised, we felt ready to tackle the hills of North Essex.

We cycled under the M11 near Henham and picked up the NCR11. We continued through the rolling countryside until we reached our overnight stop, a Travelodge SW of Cambridge. Seventy five miles of trouble-free cycling. I’d requested ground floor rooms so we wouldn’t have to cope with the possibility of a broken lift and having to carry our bikes up flights of stairs.

After a breakfast of ‘porridge in a pot’- not quite as bad as it sounds- we headed off to try to find the route through Cambridge. Seeing the queues of smartly dressed people made us realize it was graduation time.

Sheelagh’s navigational skills got us out of the city and on to the quiet, empty roads. Lacking any hills, this made for an easier day. Our route took us alongside Fenland drainage systems with snappy names such Hundred Foot Drain. The roads tended to be higher than the surrounding fields and houses so we had extensive views.

Fuelled up, courtesy of Greggs, we left Wisbech and continued until we reached Holbeach. Coincidentally, another 75 miles.

Friday saw us heading off on NCR1. For some distance, we saw as many tractors as cars. Cycling beyond Boston, the route used a disused railway line, the Water Rail. We travelled for miles along its tarmac surface with water to our left and right. Sadly, the pub we intended to stop at turned out to beto a 50m swim away. Shortly after this catastrophe we had the chance of ‘summer route’ or ‘winter route’. Instinct said winter route but curiosity got the better of us. We had our fingers crossed that the stones, pebbles and flints would spare our tyres. It worked.

We stopped for tea at Bardney and found 8 cyclists enjoying tea and cake. Our knowledge of the British sugar industry and Lancaster bombers is far greater after 20 minutes listening to the café owner.

As we approached Lincoln we were hoping to get on the wheels of cyclists training for the Nationals, but no such luck!
We negotiated our way through Lincoln, deliberately avoiding the cobbles, and headed off in a SW direction, using NCR64.
We reached our accommodation, relieved that in our 215 miles we had had no mechanicals, only 10 minutes of rain, no more than gentle breezes and barely any traffic.

Carol Cartwright

Read about their previous trip to East Anglia here


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