With the New Forest only a few days behind me, my mind was starting to think ahead of the upcoming 2 days running across the Norfolk Broads, I checked train stops, fairs and local transport and decided that I would need to change the start location, this was only a minor inconvenience and brought forward the start by 4 miles.
I spent the next few weeks refining the route and stop off points, reordering freeze-dried meals and checking and double checking the weather. The UK was in the midst of a cold spell, no where near as bad as last year which saw swaths of the UK cut off due to high levels of snow. The weather turned from ok to being issued with a severe yellow weather warning, I watched the temprature rise and lower with the end result being a mix of sleet, rain, snow and more sleet, this coupled with the sub zero temps forecast for the night time saw me booking into a pub for the night. IT’n not that I mind any combination of that weather, in fact I have run many times in weather like that, but not all together and not when camping out in winter.
The day soon arrived, the usual routine came of packing, unpacking, checking the list and then repacking the bag came and went, trips to the local supermarket for high calories sweets we undertaken before I was boarding the first of 5 trains for the day.
I arrived in Beccles a little after 3pm that day and found my way into the comfort of the hotel, it’s a hard life. The evening came and went and all to soon my alarm was singing and waking me at 05:30am. I packed my bag and consumed a warm cup of tea before I set off into the early morning damp and cold. It had rained quite heavily in the night as promised, with the air now just above freezing I walked to the start, the imaginary line running around the park. As 6am arrived off I set. I find running in towns sometimes harder than the hills, streets look the same and navigation led me to taking the wrong road a number of times forcing me to back track. I was soon crossing the outskirts of Beccles and into the local marina and the start of the Angels way.
Being dark there was little to see. Rustling could be heard in the bush’s and reeds as I ran past but it was all too apparent that it was to be slow gowing as the rain over night had turned the path into a muddy, sticky hell of a run. I slide this way and that struggling to keep an upright position. I walked for longer than I wanted and felt a little frustrated but had no choice but to keep going forward how ever i could walking, running or slidding.
I ran in short burst’s whilst appearing drunk periodically sliding sideways, dawn began to emerge and with it a dark blue hue turning gradually into the light of day. Ahead of me appeared a large group of Crows (a murder of them!), 100’s of them newly released into the dawn their noise filed the air reminding me of the famous Hitchcock film The Birds, Mrs Beard would have had a heart attack right there.
I was pretty much alone for the first 4 miles, I came across the odd walker and the odd bird watcher all looking at me curiously as I passed by. The muddy path giving way to hard surface track and then pavement. I passed through Oulton Broad quickly stopping briefly at the local BP station to grab a hot chocolate to warm my insides.
I rejoined the Angels way, heading into Somerleyton and onto busy roads. I was surprised by how few people were out walking but given the weather I cant really say I’m surprised. I dodged cars along the Herringfleet Road before entering St Olaves. I spied on Google some cafe’s and pub’s in the area and set my heart on a nice cuppa and some cake, sadly there was none to be had, nothing was open and so I carried on passing through a nice small marina and a path down the side of small riverside homes into woodland. I wanted to try and follow an old rail line here but found both the public footpath and the woodlands fenced off with a array of angry ‘private’ signs and keep out, with no other option I used their nice driveway instead and ran into Fritton where I followed a road running alongside Waveney Woods, it maintained the private sign’s all the way but strangely people were quite happily walking their dogs through the wood’s.
A golf course passed, men wandering around in their (cough cough) interesting atire, yet it was me getting the odd look’s, I stopped on the path and had a drink of water and some snacks. I was now way ahead of the time I thought it would take me, at only 12pm and pretty much at my next camp of Belton I had some time on my hands.
I wandered into Belton, searching Google for a nearby cafe but couldn’t locate anything, I even stopped a lady and asked, her response included a laugh and a smile and a resounding no. I remarked how odd that a place of such a size did not have one cafe, shop or hight street. I believe I had entered the twilight zone of the 21st centuary.
I walked the short distance to my camp site and stopped on the way at the local pub (again), consuming a large starter and main, followed by my fave post run tipple of lot’s of Coke (other brands are avalible but of course not as nice) and tea.
I was met by a nice chap at the camp ground who showed me to the tent pitch and he tried to make sure I was out of the wind. I unpacked and set up my tent. A walk down to the front and into the TV room where I warmed up and watched some TV whilst catching up on Facebook and emails, of course I also used this time to send messages to Mrs Beard and harrase her and the 2 little Beards. As evening drew in, I had hoped to try Sumit the new freeze dried mac and cheese but found that my stove did not wish to ignite, I had no other method of lighting the stove and so headed back to the pub for more food. I have to tell you I rarly go to the pub so 3 times in 24 hours was a shock to me and I briefly felt like I was re-living my uni days!
I settled into my sleeping gear and warmed in my quilt, snugly inside the wind blew steadily outside and I was happy with how day one had gone. I felt strong and had not come away with any aches.
I hope day 2 would go as well.