25.08.2011 - 28.08.2011
I left Norwich and headed for Lowestoft. This meant that I missed approximately 20 miles of the coast, but I more than made up that distance by heading into Norwich and back. The Ness in Lowestoft is the furthest Eastern point of the mainland UK and is the only one that is marked with something, a disk with the edge showing the bearing and distance to various points in the world. There is an industrial estate situated next to it with a large wind turbine nearby, not like the two previous extremities I visited, which just had lighthouses.
After leaving Lowestoft I realised that I needed to get a move on, the problem was reaching the ferry at Tilbury before the upcoming bank holiday weekend. Tilbury was the nearest Thames crossing point for me, otherwise I would have to ride on to Greenwich. I ended up spending the night at Marlesford and was treated to another special sunset.
I set off early so as to make the ferry by 5.30pm, it was a total of 87 miles to Tilbury and I avoided going into Felixstowe and Harwich as these roads were in and out on the same road and would have meant me missing the ferry. I made it to Tilbury with an hour to spare and then headed off into Kent. That night I made it to Rochester and was surprised to see a Russian sub moored in the river.
As I was looking for something to eat another touring cyclist asked me where it is good to camp. She was a visitor from Holland and had tried the nearby camp site only to find out it was only for caravans. They would not even let a lone female camp there for one night, shame on them. I told her that I just camp in woods or a field and that she was welcome to join me. We looked on her map and I located a suitable spot and rode the couple of miles there, set up camp and cooked an evening meal. It was nice to have some company. The only problem with the location was that it was next to the high speed rail line to Europe. Those trains are long, fast and loud, but they do not run all night luckily. I had a good nights sleep, as always, the Dutch girl not so, she said she was worried about wild camping and kept waking up. We had breakfast and rode on together for a bit, but I had to leave her to meet up with some friends.
James and Grace live in Chartham and we arranged to catch up in the lovely town of Whitstable. I hadn't seen them since they left Plymouth three years ago with their new born son Noah. Now three Noah has a big spark of life in him, James and Grace have their hands full there. I decided to have a half day and spend the night at theirs. Good decision, I had a bath, some food and a sofa to sleep on. Oh and the best thing, some good company.
Grace dropped me back to Whitstable and my bike, which I had left locked up by a pub. I was nervous about it being left, but was glad to see it was still there as I left it. I went round the coast path towards Margate even stopped off and had some cockles and mussels. Could not face those jellied ells though.
As I was climbing out of Margate I broke my chain, luckily I was carrying a spare. It was a bank holiday Sunday, so without the spare it would have meant two days of enforced rest.
Another cyclist kindly stopped to offer help, when I told him about my chain and that I had a spare he was first surprised then said it looked like I was carrying the kitchen sink anyway. I went to the nearest bench to fix my bike and on completing the task I was pleasantly surprised to see the commemoration on the bench. Thank you Bill Brooks.
I rounded the East coast of Kent and made it onto the South coast, I soon got to Dover and the white cliffs. I could see France and the ferries crossing the channel, if only I had enough money in my account and my passport I would have been on one of those boats. By this time I was enjoying my cycling so much and just wanted it to carry on. I didn't have the money, unfortunately, and had to finish the coast ride first. (Maybe that's one for 2012 though ;-) I decided to cycle along the cliff path for a bit, this was okay for a while but then I came across steps. This was the only time that I had to push my bike any sort of distance, the only other times was when I was finding a camping spot in the woods or a field.
Cycled on to Folkstone where the smell of good food caught my nose (actually the smell of any food catches my nose when hungry, even thought of having McDonalds at one point). There was a food stand near the sea front called Chummy's, I ordered a plate of their noodles with king prawns, the man serving said that it I would be good for the Tour de France after that, when I told him I had already done a greater distance than that and was going around the coast of Britain he was impressed. He asked if I was doing it for charity and when I told him it was for the stroke association he gave me the food for nothing, I donated the £3 that the food cost myself. So if you are ever in Folkstone I can recommend Chummy's for food, good food from kind people.
I cycled on past Dungerness power station which dominates the headland of a strange pebbled landscape with bizarre low lying plants. In fact a lot of the south coast was like this which was a great surprise to me. That night I camped at Camber near Rye, with a total of 3,050 miles behind me.