To raise money for PolyPeople three cyclists, Pip Johnson, Mike Carver & Peter Grainger cycled the Icknield way over the weekend of September 19 & 20 2009. On the second day, to step up the pace, we were joined by Steve Ryan, acka IronMan. Steve you are brilliant.
The Icknield Way is believed to be the oldest road in Britain. It pre dates the Romans. ( Have a Google). Originally the path extended from Norfolk down into the West Country and many famous paths, or routes branched off it. Now the path has different names as it passes through different counties. The Icknield Way can be traveled along from Knetishall Heath inNorfolk, near Thetford, to Ivinghoe Beacon, west of Luton. This is a distance of 105 miles across country, on tracks.
The team decided to start cycling nearer Norwich, so we began from Attleborough railway station. We wanted to complete 105 miles, but could not do all the mileage along the Icknield Way, because logistics meant we had to finish in our home town of Knebworth in Hertfordshire, off the Icknield Way and not on Ivinghoe Beacon.
So we began cycling in Attleborough in Norfolk, we crossed into Suffolk, through Essex, Cambridgeshire and we ran out of time in Royston in Hertfordshire, where we had to catch the train home. When we reached Royston, we were about 15 miles short of our 105 mile target. The excuses are, we were not fit enough, the Norfolk end is sandy, difficult to cycle through, punctures – more than expected, the map did not tie up with the ground! That’s our excuse. You are buried in the map -a lot, we had 4 maps to cover the 105 miles. Map reading is a must, as you are in the middle of nowhere all the time. The sign posting in Norfolk and Suffolk is not good. You must use the map.
If you have the time I encourage you please to walk, or ride the Icknield way. Do it – you won’t be disappointed. The hills are not too demanding, but there are lots of them and the views, wow, the views are spectacular. Pigs are a common sight in the fields of Norfolk, along with lots of heath country. You enter race horse country as you pass south of Newmarket, gallops and studs everywhere and all the time you are enveloped in beautiful, rolling, unspoiled countryside. Pretty villages act as stepping stones along the way. For cyclists there is a variety of surfaces and conditions to experience, you won’t get bored! People are very friendly and the pubs are good.
Why not join us next year? We have the maps, we know the way, we know the pubs. So come and join us. We are dam good company. Pip’s flap jacks are a must.
Many thanks for your time, Peter.