2014-06-29 52 0
In the middle of Sluice Road, between the River Great Ouse and the village of Denver, a couple of miles from Downham Market.
The initial plans are fluid, depending on the weather nearer the time, since various current weather forecasts are suggesting different and seemingly almost random amounts of rain for the day.
If the day looks dry(-ish), PaintedJaguar and MrsPaintedJaguar will aim to walk 12 miles on the Fen Rivers Way, alongside the River Great Ouse, from Littleport train station to Downham Market station, making a small detour to visit the hashpoint near Denver Sluice. Other commitments on Sunday morning would mean a slightly later start than would be ideal for such a walk, probably reaching the hashpoint between 6pm and 7pm in the evening.
If the day looks wet(-ish), they will instead travel direct to Downham Market station, and walk the much shorter 2 miles or so to the hashpoint. The exact timings would then be planned around the weather!
If the day looks very wet, the trip may well be abandoned completely!
I timed my journey to arrive at midnight and succeeded. I had not checked the expedition page to see if there were any plans so arriving first was a pure accident. The hashpoint was right on the road and I got to within 1 foot while heading east. There was no possibility of a speed racer award. The narrow lane had a 60mph speed limit but 30mph was my safe limit for the conditions. The hashpoint was of little interest but Denver Sluice is really close and well worth a visit.
We got up on Sunday morning to discover that the weather forecast was predicting light showers, and our other engagement had been cancelled. We therefore decided to do the full 12 mile hike from Littleport to Downham Market, and were able to set off slightly earlier than expected. As we pulled into Littleport, the first shower was already starting, and by the time we were ready to start walking, it was heavy enough for full waterproofs. Not the best of starts!
The first 3.5 miles were along the East side of the river, heading towards Brandon Creek. This was not the most pleasant section of walk we've ever done - although it was on the riverbank, it was adjacent to the A10 for the entire 3.5 miles, right next to 60mph traffic. We were far enough away from the road not to feel in danger from the traffic, but close enough for it to be very unpleasant. Add that to the rain, which had got signficantly heavier than the promised "light shower", and our sole intention very quickly became getting to the pub (The Ship Inn) in Bradon Creek for lunch.
Upon arrival, the landlord was very amused by how wet we were, asking us if we'd swum here, whilst we removed boots, socks and waterproofs by the front door of the pub. In fairness, he then offered to take everything we'd just taken off into the back room of the pub to dry whilst we had lunch. This was a great pub, which did a delicious Sunday roast, and seemingly had lots of live music in the evenings (which obviously wouldn't get to see). Although it was fairly empty when we arrived, it was standing room only by the time we were ready to leave, so the pub is obviously well known and well used, and deservedly so. We had been wondering why the "official" Fen Rivers Way path opted for the East side of the river, adjacent to the unpleasant A10, when the map clearly showed a footpath and minor road on the other side of the river which was probably nicer walking, but decided it must have been so that this very pub could be included on the official path!
After lunch, the rain had stopped, which was good, but the path also left the riverbank and we were now forced to walk along the side of the A10, which was less good! Fortunately, the road and river went their separate ways after not very long, and we had an uneventful 4 mile stretch of walking on the riverbank towards Ten Mile Bank. There was now plenty of wildlife to enjoy (it presumably hadn't been stupid enough to come out in the rain earlier), and we were amusingly reminded of the traffic from earlier as we walked past a car randomly parked on the riverbank, in the middle of the footpath, some distance from any road.
Next we got to cross over to the west side of the river, followed by a 2.5 mile section along a minor road towards Denver Sluice. This made for fast walking, except for the point where we stopped to look at some pigs in somebody's back garden, only for the owners to "jump out" from behind some trees and engage us in conversation about the relative merits of town or country living and how that related to being able to keep your own pigs. We were particularly amused to notice their kids cutting the enormous lawn on ride-on lawnmowers whilst the parents chatted to us.
Arriving at Denver Sluice (which we had visited before), we stopped for a cheeky half pint in the Jenyns Arms pub, before looking round the area, which, as Sourcerer said, is absolutely fascinating and definitely worth visiting. This was followed by the diversion to the hashpoint, which (again, as Sourcerer said) was significantly less interesting than Denver Sluice. Just visible in the distance along the road from the hashpoint was a road sign for a level crossing, which triggered an old memory from our previous visit: on inspection of the map, we realised that we must have previously walked down this very road, and therefore would be able to claim a deja vu achievement if we could subsequently find any proof, likely to be in the form of photos, from our previous visit.
We left a giant XKCD marker in chalk in the middle of the road, before heading back to Denver Sluice to complete the final 2 miles into Downham Market. This was back on the riverbank, following the now tidal river, and was again very pleasant. Sadly we had not done enough planning to know where to find a pub in Downham Market, and after wandering around near the station for a bit and failing to find one, we gave up and got a train home without having had a celebratory final drink. Whilst walking through Cambridge after getting off the train, we were treated to a really strong full rainbow, which summed up the day nicely!
After arriving home, we checked the old photos of our previous visit to Denver Sluice, and were amazed to find we didn't have any of the sluice area itself. However, we did have a photo of Denver Windmill, along the road to the east of the hashpoint, and then the view from just past Denver Sluice looking into Downham Market, taken from west of the hashpoint, which together show that we must have walked down the road through the hashpoint. The second of these photos is similar to one we took today, but the thickness of trees is different, showing that they must have been taken at a previous point in time. On that basis, we will be claiming the deja vu achievement.
To summarise (if anybody's still reading?), this was a very enjoyable lunch and afternoon, and we'd definitely recommend the lunchtime pub and second two-thirds of the walk to anyone. The first third, alongside the A10, isn't something we'll be in a hurry to do again, whatever the weather!
[Photos and tracklog to follow later].
@52.5809,.3497 Sourcerer's Proof
| Sourcerer earned the Midnight Geohash achievement
| PaintedJaguar earned the Land geohash achievement
| PaintedJaguar earned the Déjà Vu Geohash Achievement
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