Camchain and tensioner seen up close in a cutaway bike engine

Home Travel StoriesRain In The Far East

Wet And Wild, Sorry, Mild

Ride Date 8 May 2023

by Ren Withnell

Dagnammit! Rain, and lots of it. The forecast today is rain until mid afternoon with the rest of the week as "mixed". My hope is that by the time I get to Kings Lynn I'll have had time to dry out and at least the evening will be dry. I know better than to trust the UK forecast though. It'll be what it'll be and there not a single thing I can do about it. 

With the bike loaded I head out around 0915. I have around 180 miles to cover today which is a sensible ride, but it leaves me with a choice. I could use mostly motorways (M62, A1M) to get to the A17 or I could go across The Snake Pass and through Sheffield. Motorways make more sense in these conditions as The Snake will be misty and wet and miserable and getting through Sheffield's city will be as dull as dishwater. So why am I taking the M60 ring road through to the M67 and Glossop? Because I'm an idiot.

The rain is bouncing through Glossop. As my elevation increases when I climb The Snake the wet inundation is now mixed with the cloud making visibility that much harder. And yet the tyres are gripping and I'm keeping a sensible pace behind a couple of cars, moving swiftly yet safely. It could be my mood, it could be that while wet it's not cold, it could be the verdant lush surroundings, I don't know but this feels OK. OK? Well, better than expected at least.

The helmet and the bike are soaking wet by the side of Ladybower Reservoir
It's on the wet side beside The Ladybower Reservoir.

Dagnammit! I figure it's been a good long while since I've passed through Sheffield as now there are signs informing me of a new Clean Air Zone. As I sail past the first sign it's already too late to change my route, I'm here, in the zone, probably already recorded on camera. That's rough, no obvious chance to take a detour, I curse in my helmet. I know precisely zero about Sheffield's Clean Air Zone rules. Do bikes pay? How much? The signs only inform me I'd best check it all out online before tonight otherwise I'll be thrown in jail, have my bike confiscated, my house will be possessed and I'll be forced to pay my fine by working in the Gulag.

To add insult to injury Sheffield is busy. Sat-Nav is leading me a merry dance right through the worst of it along with a multitudinous compendium of poorly marked lanes and a veritable fantasia of illogical traffic light layouts. Oh yeah, great. Note to self - avoid Sheffield - in fact avoid cities - at all costs. I already know this but I never blooming learn do I.

Sat-Nav eventually dumps me unceremoniously on the A1M, mercifully. Blyth Services comes into view with the promise of a Greggs which means affordable tea and a sausage roll, which I thankfully partake of. I sit there, jacket dripping on the back of a chair, pants and boots dripping onto the floor, and I dig out the phone from the tank bag. Sheffield's Clean Air Zone does not (yet) include motorcycles and that's all I want to know. I figure I'm glad I'm not in a van though it would be much drier.

A tea in a paper cup and half eaten sausage roll from Greggs bakery at Blyth Services
Oooh that's better! I have a puddle around me.

The A1M becomes the A1, the reasons for this are unknown to the likes of myself. The A1 eventually leads me to the A17 during which the rain becomes lighter then eases off completely. Bliss. 

Now wait a minute. I don't really know East Anglia that well. I don't recall having been on the A17 before. So, errr, why does it all seem so familiar? Long open sweeping bends, broad vast arable farmland, roadside cafes and likable villages. Let me think. Well there was that time I came to Norwich for business? Yeah. Oh, maybe we came this way when we visited David? True. Ahh, we must have come this way en-route to Harwich and The Netherlands. Hmmm. Of course. Oh! There's the cafe come campsite we stayed at. 

I am ready to stop as Kings Lynn comes into view, but I'm not exhausted. My bum is a little numb, my legs a little stiff but I'm still a long way from agony. I think 180 miles and my choice of route (save for Sheffield) was the right choice. I fill up at a Supermarket then Sat-Nav leads me out of town and to the campsite. All things considered today's ride has been a good ride.

Kings Lynn Caravan and Camping Park is fine. There's a shop on site with just the basics at tolerable prices. The lady in the shop confirms my booking and gives me the lowdown with a kindly manner. The toilets are clean and sufficient, the pitch is acceptable and all is well. There's nothing amazing, but it's all good thank you very much.

The bike and the teepee tent at Kings Lynn Caravan and Camping Park
It's fine here, not too busy midweek as well.

The TeePee tent is not a good tent. It's single skinned (no inner tent), the shape (octagonal) doesn't lend itself to a logical layout inside and with the door being angled it must remain closed when it's raining otherwise the rain comes in. However I still choose this tent for solo rides as it is so damn easy to put up and for myself I can live with it's botherations. 

Time is on my side. With the tent pitched, my camping kit all set up, a tin of sausage and beans in my belly, and the bike checked over, it's only 1730. The evening sky is overcast but the air is warm and dry. It's around 4 miles to Kings Lynn, too far to walk there and back. The campsite is next to the village of North Runcton so I put on my walking boots and take a walk to see what's what there.

A selection of regular yet nice houses and bungalows at North Runcton
North Runcton's busy and bustling town centre.

North Runcton is tiny. There are a few impressively posh houses, some modestly agreeable bungalows, a cute terrace of older houses, a cricket club, and a tiny infant school. The old phone box is a micro-museum with posters of North Runcton's history and the bus shelter operates as a book exchange. There's a sense of community here, but sod all else. No shop, no chippy, no doctor's surgery or anything. I figure the village must be entirely subservient to the services of Kings Lynn just up the road. Without a car or being fit enough to cycle, life here could be quite hard.

A vary large brick built house at North Runcton
Big. Too big. Imagine the heating bill!

Ahhh, the internet. With the addition of my camping chair and on-site WiFi the evening passes easily in a stream of YouTube videos, cups of tea, a packet of crisps from the shop, and a quick shower. Before the ubiquity of WiFi and 4g this evening would have been rather boring, as it is time passes most pleasantly. To bed, but not before battening down the hatches and moving everything away from the sides of the tent. Tonight's forecast tells me the rain is due to return, and with vengeance.

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Prolugue - Why Ness Point? Ren explains why he's off to the land of Daaan Saaaf. There won't be any mountains and no-ones going to give him any money, there must be a reason?
Wet And Wild, Sorry, Mild It's a somewhat mixed start to Ren's latest escapade. There's rain and the risk of being thrown into The Gulag, but it's not too bad at the end of the day.
Way Out East It's another grim day on the road although the reason for this trip is close at hand. So what does Ren make of mainland UK's most easterly point then?
Off To Pop's Bad news folks! Ren's having an OK day. This is the easy part of his trip and he's making the most of it.
Going Home And Epilogue It's time to go home and Ren is making his way North across country. There's a little too much time for thinking and he's on his high horse. At least it's not raining. Sorry.

Reader's Comments

Bogger said :-
Teepee tent. School boy error there me thinks. If you stay dry in that I'll eat my hat.

Can't wait for the next wet and windy installment.

22/05/2023 20:18:11 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Teepee can be spelt tepee or tipi, or teepee. And, for your future information, I hope your hat is made of chocolate boyo.
22/05/2023 21:04:34 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
I really dislike riding in the rain.......but strangely enjoy the thought of you doing it.....
Why isn't your bike spread all over the garage floor?
22/05/2023 21:28:44 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
The bike is covered in a protective layer of dirt and oil Upt' helping it to survive the British weather. Even so at now 5 years old the 500 is already showing it's age and the sufferings of the elements. If you purchase a motorcycle in the UK and use it regularly, you'd be a fool to consider it any kind of investment.
23/05/2023 12:25:23 UTC

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