The outside of a motorbike engine seen up close near the exhaust

Home Travel StoriesSandringham 2011 - By Ren Withnell

Sandringham 2011 - Heading Back Home

Last night was colder than the night before, quite a bit colder.  Of course this meant my blooming bladder decided last night would be the night to empty itself with annoying regularity.  Warm the sleeping bag...settle down...nod off...wake up...try to ignore my bladder...give up...put boots on...climb out of tent...wee in nearby bushes...climb into tent...take boots off...get into sleeping bag...warm the sleeping bag...repeat 3 times in the night.  I did manage to get some sleep even if it was a little disturbed.  It helped that I just left the earplugs in all night so I was not awoken by the omnipresent wood pigeons.  Still, I find myself reading some more as it's still to early to get up.  I'm glad I brought this book with me.

We all get up quite early, maybe 0730.  IW's slept in the car again, even with the airbed he's not comfortable and that super low tent hasn't helped I reckon.  SL gets out complaining of the cold, I'm surprised, he's ex TA and I'm sure he must have slept in some pretty cold, wet and rough places during his service.  He assures me the sleeping bags provided by the army are amazingly warm and comfortable, if only his present sleeping bag was the same.  We all take time to get a wash and brush out teeth before we take the tents down.

I know my tent pretty well.  One thing I know is that the damn thing will never ever go back into it's tiny bag.  I can just about get it in at home where I have time to carefully fold it, roll it and then crush it with all my force.  Here the tent and the ground are still wet from yesterdays downpour and I'm packing another half pound of mud alongside the sodden material.  It takes a while but I get about two thirds of it into the bag before I give up and bungee it onto the bike with the rest of the gear.  Everyone else is packed too, they're pretty much waiting on me.

There's no chance of going to Tesco's for breakfast at this time of day, it won't open until 1000 at least.  SL and I decide it'd probably be best if we leave IW to it in the car and make our own way back.  We all know where we're going now and we don't need to guide each other or worry about getting separated.  After checking the camping are one last time to make sure we've left nothing behind, and I check my wallet, keys, phone and luggage just to be sure, we set off.  The weather is dry, but there's a feeling that this may not remain the case, it feels like it could rain again.  I sure hope this is not going to be a miserable ride back.

It's not long before SL and I get separated from IW.  The roads are clearer at this time of day but the A17 is starting to drag already.  Large tractors towing huge implements or overloaded trailers bimble along at 35 mph.  The cars can't pass as the bends are all awkwardly spaced and each straight is either too short or has oncoming traffic.  SL and I hop past the cars one at a time until we reach the tractors, then hop past them where and when we can.  I'm in no rush, I only overtake where it's safe yet we do seem to be making some kind of progress.  My stomach is grumbling now, it's overdue a cup of tea and breakfast.  At one junction I tell SL this and we keep our eyes open for a café.

We pass a few, bad timing.  We've passed some tractors and a lorry or two and now we're moving the cafés pass by us before we have time to stop.  We finally pull in to a lay by with a large sign advertising "The Moorings Breakfast Café".  What we find is a bungalow with a large garage, the garage has been converted into the café and I feel almost like we're intruding as I enter.  I need not have worried, a friendly lady greets us and takes our order for a small breakfast, which includes a free cup of tea for bikers.  You can find The Moorings if you Google "PE20 2DB".  IF anyone has a link to a site then let me know!  It's great to eat good food and relax in the café, I just wish I were a little closer to home and was sure the rain would hold off.

The Moorings Cafe Boston/Fosdyke. A small single story brick building with signs for the cafe
The Moorings Cafe...good food and tea and biker friendly.

After looking at the fields full of cabbages we head back out again.  The road rolls by at the same pace, traffic gets in the way and the flatness is relentless.  We circle the edge of Sleaford and the signs to Newark on Trent show we are getting ever closer.  This time instead of catching the easy A1M north we head towards Mansfield along the A617.  This is a bit better, the countryside is becoming less flat and more interesting.  Mansfield is another town like any other and we pass through without incident and carry on towards Chesterfield.  The road to Chesterfield passes without issue and bring with it hills and a few corners, although there's traffic too.  Chesterfield comes and goes but here we pass through the town that is now starting to get busy as the afternoon brings the shoppers out.  We come out of Chesterfield and I'm starting to feel like I'm getting close to home and on familiar ground now as the road twists and turns towards Manchester.

At Baslow, a small village in the Peak District, we spot another café and this time make a u-turn to get back to it.  I'm in need of a brew, a smoke and a rest but I'm disappointed to find a rather pretentious café that's trying it's best to be upmarket.  The menu on the wall is full of strange foreign sounding names for meals aimed squarely at those who'd like to think they're upper class as they travel in their leased 4 by 4's and drink wine paid for by credit card.  "Sauted Frecushea" is probably just Hienz tomato soup with bay leafs on top anyhow.  We pay through the nose for tea served in a pot and little cups fit only for a child's play set.  I guess I'm just common.

Back on the A623 the weather looks bad.  Real bad.  We've passed a couple of light showers but there are leaden clouds where we are heading.  As the twisty and interesting road rolls up hill and down dale the rain starts...tick tick...tick on the visor.  It's only another 20 yards before the drizzle becomes rain, and another 40 yards before rain becomes a wall of water.  I slow down and SL backs of a little too, I can barely see the road and I'm wishing I'd taken the time to clean my visor this morning.  We plod on until we reach the A6, and standing traffic.

We pass the queue of cars and lorries for a few hundred yards, but it seems obvious there's something amiss.  A few cars come past in the opposite direction, waving to turn around.  A little further on I stop in a lay by as a huge towing lorry tries to reverse, he's no chance and the articulated lorries have already given up.  I hear on motorist as he stops to inform another that the road is closed due to a big accident involving bikes and cars.  It seems the road is closed and will be for some time.  I shudder as I recall my accident and thank the lord this time it's not me.  I dig the map out and SL believes he can manage a detour around to Chapel-en-le-Frith.  I duly turn around and follow him through narrow roads, minor traffic jams and tight junctions until we arrive successfully at Chapel.

I’d normally follow the A6 through Stockport, a long and boring route that I've travelled far too many times.  SL knows better and leads me over through Hayfield and Little Hayfield.  It's pouring with rain by now and I can't keep up with SL, I blame my dirty visor and anything else I can think of, but I'm just slow...or careful.  He doesn't shoot off and soon even in the wet I'm enjoying this small road that displays valleys and villages to me rather than endless houses and shops along the A6 route.  It comes as a pleasant surprise too when we magically appear near in Glossop, not far from the motorway.  This route sure is a lot better.

The motorway is hell.  The rain is hard now and the spray is impossible.  Here and there I can catch glimpses between the rivers across my visor and I'm practically feeling my way along.  It remains like this for the next 20 miles as we head towards SL's turn off.  At junction 17 M60 SL comes alongside me and I see him wave as the water cascades off his machine and himself.  He pulls off and I carry on for another 13 miles to my turn off.  In places I'm down to 40 mph as I cannot see anything at all, I lift my visor, look about, choke on the influx of water and close again.  Most of the traffic has slowed too yet the odd madman flies past at 80 like it's a clear sunny afternoon.  I'm scared as at my speed I expect to be rear ended by some high speed execmobile.

With great relief I come off the motorway and drop to sensible speeds.  I get home, get off the bike and I want to collapse.  I don't, like a good boy I take the sodden tent off and wash it down with the hosepipe in the back street.  I'm already soaked to the skin so I don't worry about splashing myself.

I'm glad I made the trip to Sandringham.  But...only in the same way I'm glad I travel anywhere, it's good to travel.  There's not really a lot going on in the Sandringham area for a guy like myself.  The roads are nothing special to ride.  We didn't find any exciting nightlife or a special place of interest.  There was nothing there that made me think I must go back and do that again.  However...if the Country House is your thing then Sandringham House is as good...or any I've seen.  The gardens are pretty imressive and I'm sure they'd have been a whole lot more imressive in the dry.  Tha campsite at Sandringham is very good.  It's clean, quiet (except for the wood pigeons) and well staffed.  If you can avoid the A17, do so. 


Sandringham 2011 - The Ride South And Sandringham Campsite
Sandringham 2011 - Hunstanton, Sandringham House and Snettisham Beach
Sandringham 2011 - Heading Back Home

Reader's Comments

Steven Wilkinson said :-
Great Cafe That, use it a lot
01/01/2000 12:00:00 UTC
Michelle said :-
Found your site whilst Googling The Moorings... great cafe. Their new website is
01/01/2000 12:00:00 UTC

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