Tonight we held a group meeting in the Deer’s Leap, Thetford, with volunteer rangers from the Thetford and Waveney Valley group and two Sustrans staff members: the volunteer projects officer for the East of England, and the area manager for Norfolk and Suffolk. The meeting was a nice opportunity for everyone to get to know one another, and we had productive discussions on a number of issues. These included problems on existing routes, possible diversions and new routes, and the training and support available from Sustrans.
As part of a longer bike ride, I returned to Thetford along Regional Route 30 from Watton. Part of this route is off-road along the Peddars Way. The surface is mostly pretty good for cycling, and would be fine with a hybrid bike. However, one section adjacent to Thompson Water is prone to flooding, and was almost impassible today. I was only able to pass by squeezing up the bank on foot and leaning inwards on my bike while wheeling it through the water.
The water probably wasn’t that deep for a bicycle, but given the size of the flooded area and being unable to see the state of the ground beneath, people shouldn’t be expected to try to cycle through. Walkers would also be reluctant to try to wade it, and the water in the middle would probably overcome most walking boots.
I’ve previously reported this issue to Norfolk County Council (the route is a Public Footpath, which they have a duty to maintain, at least for walkers), but nothing seems to have been done. I’ll also contact National Trails, since the problem lies on both the Peddars Way and the Peddars Way Cycle Route. If the flooding issue cannot be addressed, we will probably need to look at diverting route 30. It would be a shame not to be able to make use of the otherwise pleasant Peddars Way route.
Update: I received a prompt reply from The Peddars Way & Norfolk Coast Path on 9th June 2014, who wrote:
I am aware of the situation along that section of the Peddars Way. Indeed I carried out some surface work there in the past.
Whilst my priorities are for walkers along this section, I can inform you that I have allocated a moderate budget to alleviate the flooding this year. As soon as our prioritised work load allows we will be delivering this work. Although I cannot confirm an exact date at this time, please be assured I plan to complete this before the autumn.
So perhaps we will not need to divert the NCN route after all.
For a change I cycled this section of the route in the other direction, as part of a longer ride. The signage was mostly ok, though I did have to replace two missing signs, caused by the posts they’d been attached to having been replaced or removed. First a sign on the C38 coming in to in Weeting, and secondly, a lamp post in Brandon.
Also, cycling in the other direction, I did notice a couple of points where some additional signs would be useful — first at the bottom of Croxton Road in Thetford to direct cyclists to use the crossing on the right to cross London Road, and secondly along Green Lane in Thetford to give riders the confidence to ignore the “no through road” sign. I’ll look in to addressing these issues shortly.
Back in February, British Cycling launched their cycling manifesto Time to #ChooseCycling, with a ten-point plan of high-level measures to improve cycling in the UK. In the last couple of weeks, the CTC, Cyclenation and Sustrans have all launched new guides showing how to develop cycle-friendly infrastructure. The three guides overlap to some degree, but are also complementary and aimed at slightly different audiences. They’re all worth a read.
As part of a longer ride, I checked most of the section of Regional Route 30 from Diss to Thetford. The existing signs were pretty much all fine, but I did note a few places where an additional confirmation sign would be useful. In particular, an additional sign would be useful when approaching Crackthorn Corner from the east, a sign on the western approach to the B1113 crossing is obscured by a residential hedge, and an additional pair of signs would be useful at the Thelnetham cross roads. As previously noted, we could do with some additional confirmation signs along the C148 between Bridgham and Thetford, but there are no suitable poles or posts to attach them to there.
In November 2013, the now defunct Brecks Partnership submitted Heritage Lottery Fund for almost £1.5M towards a collection of projects under the title “Breaking New Ground”. The projects cover landscape conservation, improving community participation in local heritage, increasing access to and learning about the countryside, and increasing training opportunities in local heritage skills. The bid was successful, and so the various projects can now go ahead. There are two cycling related projects that are of particular interest, the “Brecks Forest Way” — improvements to various routes along the Little Ouse valley between Thetford and Brandon, and the “Brecks Rides” a new long-distance multi-user route between St Helens and West Stowe. For further details see the following links:
This afternoon, I took advantage of the good weather to cycle over my section of route 13 and route 30 from Thetford to the C150 south of Bridgham. It was good to see that the step by the Thetford Tesco Store that I had previously contacted Norfolk County Council about had now been repaired.
Back in Thetford, I did work on two signs. First, adding a new sign on Croxton road just south of Mundford road, and secondly replacing a damaged sign near the west end of Green Lane.
Finally, although not on the Sustrans route, the well-used Joe Blunt’s Lane has previously had some shingle added to a couple of short sections as part of work for the Thetford Academy. I complained to Norfolk County Council back in November 2013 that this would be dangerous for cyclists. In response, they said they’d asked the contractor to remove the shingle, but this doesn’t seem to have happened yet. I’ll be contacting the council again about this.
Today I went out with a new volunteer ranger to ride over the section of Regional Route 30 that they’ll be looking after. I cycled out from Thetford to meet the new ranger at the T-junction just south of Middle Harling, and we cycled together along Route 30 to Diss, before returning via Kenninghall.
There are quite a few permanent council signs already on this part of the route, but these tend only to be at junctions. Most of the work that needs doing will be to add confirmation signs to the longer stretches between junctions. We’ll also need to check if there is (or can be) an agreed cycle link route to Diss station, and to sign it if there is.
I went out for a route inspection ride today, covering Route 30 (and a bit of Route 13) between Thetford and Weeting. There were a few issues with signing to address, and some new council works on a cycle path to report.
First of all, the council have provided some improvements to the cycle path between the C622 and Woodcock Rise at the eastern end of Brandon. Dropped curbs has been installed at both ends, and additional permanent signing has been provided.
The signing leaves something to be desired though. At the southern end the sign at the entrance is end-on to oncoming cyclists. At the northern end a new pole has been provided to hold a sign, when there’s a suitable lamp post that would have done a couple of metres in. There are also two “Cyclists Dismount” signs with rather odd locations and orientations — travelling north there’s one a couple of metres from the end of the route, and travelling south there’s one about half-way along.
In Brandon, I fixed a contraflow cycling sign that had been turned around at the junction of Gashouse Drove and White Hart Lane, and replaced a missing sign at the other end of White Hart Lane.
In Weeting, at the junction of the Peppers Close and Brandon Road, I replaced an old temporary sign and added a custom “Use Cycle Path” arrow, to help prevent cyclists from needlessly turning right on to the main road. Finally back in Thetford, a “Cyclists Dismount” sign at the top of King Street needed re-orientating (again).