Heading North…

Posted by on 23, Apr 2021 in 2021 - Ipswich to Scotland, Tandems, Tilly the Tandem, UK

Heading North…

On our rest day we decided to cycle into Peterborough, sans Panniers which felt really strange as Tilly handles so much better when fully loaded than empty. It’s quite the opposite of what you’d expect, but obviously she loves touring too.

Peterborough really shocked us for its cycle infrastructure. Loads of dedicated cycle paths, with adjacent pavement, flyovers and flyunders across the big roads, cycle traffic lights all very European.

The city itself though was surreal with the post lockdown queues for Primark being so long we actually couldn’t see Primark anywhere, it wouldn’t have surprised me if they were in Nottingham!

We had come to see the cathedral so bypassed the hordes desperate to go and throw clothes on the floor in Primark and spent an hour sitting on the grass outside the cathedral admiring the building whilst a pair of bells tolled ominously for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral.

So, fully rested after our relaxing day off, we headed off again through some beautiful relatively flat countryside along quiet lanes in gorgeous sunshine. What a difference a day makes, arriving in Peterborough we’d been frozen, leaving it we needed sun screen!

When you drive through Lincolnshire on the A47 the highlight is passing the cafe with the tanks and aircraft in the car park. It’s something to look forward to for the miles and miles of fields, but the Lincolnshire we cycled through was gorgeous. We’d decided to stay inland at the edge of the fens and the villages and roads were all quiet and deserted but is it up North?

This is an age old debate my son has with me about Nottigham. We think it’s northern but he lives there and says its the Midlands. I’m sure he’s right (once you’re a dad with grown up children you get used to always being wrong) but Nottingham and Lincolnshire felt Northern to us and as Lincoln is more northerly than Nottingham I’m sticking with we’re up North!!

I really like the North! My mum comes from ‘Up North’ and I always feel people are more friendly, blunt and helpful there. None of this living in a village for 30 years before anyone says hello to you like Suffolk!! And we were about to be on the receiving end of that northern friendly help too….

When you’re driving and next come to a diversion spare a thought for us cyclists as you follow the multitude of yellow Diversion signs back your original route, it might take you an extra 5 minutes but hey ho.

On a bike it’s a different ball game. We approached the Feldborough Railway Viaduct along a disused railway line converted into a lovely cycle track. We actually got all the way on to the viaduct and over the Trent before we came across a sign saying the path was closed about 10 metres before the scaffolding and metal fences that were currently being erected. You could have crashed into the fences whilst reading the sign it was that close.

There were no diversion signs and this was the last cycle bridge across the Trent before the Humber, and the humber bridge is closed to cyclists with a 57 mile diversion, all probably unsigned.

There is a toll bridge on the A52 further north, but this is a main ‘A’ road with no cycle lanes and we pictured trying to cycle on the A140 and didn’t fancy our chances of surviving it unscathed or at the very least needing clean underwear after!

This isn’t our first closed road experience and we’ve found the best thing to do in these circumstances is to approach the fence and look confused (not hard for me these days) and see what happens.

The scaffolders told us the bridge was closed (that explained the closed sign then!) so we asked if there was a diversion. No idea he said, what about suggesting a safe route? No idea he said constantly looking over the edge of the viaduct then he said hang on.

He got his power wrench and undid the fences and moved some poles and said come on go through and mind the barbed wire – thats the boss down there and he’s already told me off for letting people though yesterday and not to do it again. We said we didn’t want to get him in any trouble and he laughed and said don’t worry about it. I guess him and the boss in his suit tie and hard hat didn’t get on, bet he’s a southerner. We thanked him profusely and hurried though as he did up the fence behind us. Northern kindness. I know, people in the South are kind too but I’m playing to stereotypes here….

As it happened we eventually crossed the A52 and it was like a ghost town. You could have popped the picnic blanket down and happily had your lunch and an afternoon nap between cars. Amazing what a 40p toll does to traffic!

The weather has been a real roller coaster and whilst we love cycle toruing we have been getting quite cold on some days. You stay warm cycling, at least Linda does being the engine – it’s harder up front to stay warm when you just have to steer – and the cafe restrictions make warming up quite difficult.

When we stop we find we get cold quickly and at the moment we can’t just pop into a cafe for 30 minutes and warm up. We end up sitting on the pavement like a pair of tramps drinking a coffee. I’ve taken to putting my hat down on the off chance someone lobs a quid in.

Honestly, people glance at us and avoid eye contact unless they can see the bike. Then they’re very chatty otherwise it’s eyes down and press on hoping we don’t try and thrust a big issue on them…


  1. Great ride , great weather !

  2. Great fun read again… Matildas Musings is impressed!!!!

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