East Anglian Derby Cycling and Football

The next leg of our cycling and football project takes in Ipswich Town and Norwich City, arch rivals in the East Anglian Derby.

Our starting point was Portman Road, home of Ipswich Town FC.

The club have quite an illustrious history and showcase two of England’s iconic managers, Sir Alf Ramsey and Sir Bobby Robson, World Cup 1966 winners and 1990 semi-finalists respectively. Sadly, this great club now reside in Division One following relegation this past season.

As for the cycling, we left the town on a damp Monday morning. It’s a very steep climb from the waterfront to pick up Sustrans NCN Route 1. The 10 miles or so to Woodbridge is mainly off road through modern housing developments. Woodbridge is a very pleasant Suffolk town, but this time we skirted the narrow streets and pedalled on NCN1 north.

Not far from home – Great Yarmouth

This is now Sustrans at its best. The route ambles through very sleepy villages all on quiet lanes with little traffic. Some of the names tickle the imagination like Dallinghoo. The ride is very rolling but doesn’t detract from the scenery even though we were dodging rain for most of the day.

So, we continued onwards through Framlingham which is dominated by its majestic castle and the dramatic hilltop college opposite. The town was also a welcome stop for refreshments. It is striking that many villages have little in the way of sustenance. We hardy saw a shop, cafe or pub all day.

After a 42 mile day, our stop for the night was in Holton, just off NCN1 near Halesworth. We opted for an AirBnB Shepherds Hut. A wonderful self contained property, fully equipped with all mod cons and welcome treats. Given the expensive prices of a lot of Suffolk accommodation, just over £50 was great value.

It was a much brighter morning as we set off back on NCN1. The lanes are just as quiet and tranquil as yesterday and still rolling.

Before entering Norfolk, there is a choice heading for Norwich, either through Beccles or Bungay. Beccles is the option for NCN1, whereas NRN30 goes through the pleasant town of Bungay. We chose this option as it looked slightly shorter. Later, we were soon back on NCN1 and heading for the Broads.

We love this part of England. Picturesque villages leading to the waters edge with little marinas and usually a welcome pub or cafe. It’s fabulous to cycle these lanes with light traffic even though the holidays are underway. Sustrans signs pop up regularly, and the villages all make an effort to show off.

So, it was 37 miles or so as we ambles into Norwich alongside the River Yare with many people enjoying the boating and rowing attractions on offer. Before heading home, there was time to visit Carrow Road and Norwich City FC. In stark contrast to their East Anglian rivals, the Canaries will be showcasing their talents in the Premier League next season as they were the Championship champions this past season. I’m just glad that we got James Maddison from Norwich when we did.

So, the plan now is to continue the project to the south and west of England later this summer. Between grounds to date has seen us cycle 236 miles, some 120 miles of the Sustrans network. It’s 11 clubs visited, 81 to go!

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