This evening, I organised a meeting for the Breckland and Waveney Valley Ranger Group. We met at The Angel at Larling, and spent a couple of hours discussion various issues, including volunteer recruitment, issues with existing routes, and possible new routes. It was good to meet two new rangers, and catch up with some older hands.
The Breckland and Waveney Valley Sustrans Ranger Group is in need of some more volunteers, to help look after various parts of the National Cycle Network, around Thetford, Brandon, Watton and Dereham. For an up-to-date list of areas in need, and details of what help is needed, see the Volunteer Page. To help attract new volunteers, Sustrans has some special signs available to put up on NCN routes. I’ve acquired a few of these, and have just put some up along Green lane in Thetford, and the Watton–Griston cycle path.
While out putting up the signs, I also noticed a few problems with the surface of the Watton–Griston cycle path.
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.
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.
As part of a recreational ride, I had a look over the section of Regional Route 30 from Knettishall to Diss. The route is all on minor roads, so there were no issues with the surface. Overall the signage was good, with permanent signs at all the turning points and major junctions. I noted a couple of issues (see below) and a few more confirmation signs would also be useful.
- At the B1111 cross-roads at Hopton, the east-facing sign is attached to the back of a “Stop” sign. It is partially obscured as the arm of the “Stop” sign has been rotated.
- At the B1113 cross-roads at Gallows Hill, the west-facing sign is partially obscured by a garden hedge.
- The signs in Diss to/from the station are incomplete.
The Breckland and Waveney Valley Sustrans volunteer group is currently looking to recruit some additional volunteer rangers to help look after parts of the National Cycle Network. In particular, we are looking for people to monitor the following sections:
Thetford to Knettishall on Route 30 and Route 13
- Knettishall to Diss on Route 30
- Gately to Dereham on Route 13
For further details, please see the volunteer vacancies page.
As the section of Route 13 and Route 30 to the east of Thetford currently doesn’t have a Volunteer Ranger looking after it, I decided to go for a ride and see what state it was in. The route itself was fine, and the signage wasn’t too bad, though there is a need for a few more confirmation signs along the way.
Unfortunately permanent signs were erected when only Route 30 went this way, so now most of the signage consists of a permanent 30 sign and a temporary 13 next to it. This doesn’t look great, but at least it’s functional.
After leaving Thetford, the first signs are found at Brettenham. Just before the junction there was a lone 13 sign, and then a full set of signs in both directions at the junction. I removed the lone 13 sign since it wasn’t really needed there, and might cause confusion with riders wondering where route 30 had gone. We could do with a couple of confirmation signs along the way, and there might be some suitable telegraph poles for this.
The next signs are at the turning on the way in to Bridgham, so a set of confirmation signs would be useful along the way. The Bridgham signs are again a case of permanent 30 signs and temporary 13 ones. It’s the same at the southern end of the off-road section along Bridgham Lane. At the latter a did a bit of work, replacing a right arrow for a diagonal one, which better matched the direction of the route.
Carrying on, there were a couple of instances of only route 13 being signposted. This will need fixing in due course.
The, at the junction with the B1111, I did a bit more work. A permanent 30 sign needed rotating round, and I added a couple of additional temporary signs that would be visible ahead when cyclists reached the junction.
It was then on to the crossing of the A1066. Good signs there, but a set of confirmation signs would be good en route.
Finally at at the junction where route 13 splits off, I added a couple of new 13 signs to help direct riders. I wonder if there’s a possibility of getting a milepost, or at least a proper set of direction signs with destinations and distances on for this junction.
I took the train to Attleborough, and then cycled to meet the new ranger at Hingham. We then rode north to Daffy Green to the start of his section of the route, and followed it south to Watton. From there we took the new Watton–Griston cycle path (stopping for lunch at the Portrait Bench) before re-joining route 13 at Thompson. We followed the route to Stonebridge (the end of his section) and I continued alone back to Thetford, still on Route 13.
In general, the route was already well signed with permanent council signs at all the junctions and turns. However a few extra conformation signs in the longer gaps between these signs would be useful.
We were did a couple of bits of work ourselves. First, a pair of permanent signs in Bradenham were both 180 degrees out, and so pointing riders in the wrong directions. Using an adjustable spanner, we managed to rotate them round to the right positions. We also cut back some of the overgrowth that was obscuring the signs.
Secondly, in Stonebridge, we moved a permanent sign from one side of the road to the other since it was obscured by a telegraph pole where it was originally, and also cut back some of the hedge around a second sign.
Some other issues we noted for future work or investigation included:
- Is there a reason why the permanent signs at the junction of Ploughboy Lane and Chequers Lane at Saham Tony comprise just a small 13 on a red background, rather than the usual blue cycleway signs?
- Should there be better signage to link the Watton–Griston Cycle Path back to route 13 in Watton?
- Is there a reason why the route south from Thompson diverts west along Tottingham Road to join the Peddars’ Way further north, rather than taking the more direct route which is mostly along a metalled road?
- Better signage is needed at the junction of Tottingham Road and the Peddars’ Way.
- The condition of the surface on the middle section of the Peddars’ Way. Admittedly it had rained heavily for the previous couple of days, but the undulating surface lead to large pools of water, which spanned the whole width at a couple of points.
- What is rationale behind the new-looking “(13)” link sign that points off the Peddars’ Way at Galley Hill along the road towards Great Hockham?
The Thetford area group of volunteer Sustrans rangers is rather small, and has been without a group coordinator for at least the last two years while I’ve been involved. In order to try and grow the group and allow it to do more, I’ve volunteered to take on the role of group coordinator in addition to my Ranger duties. The things I’ll be responsible for include:
- Recruiting and welcoming new volunteers to the group.
- Supporting group members and liaising with Sustrans;
- Developing a group plan in consultation with Sustrans the the rest of the group;