Catching up - To Hull and Back - CycleBlaze

Catching up

We're emerging from winter once again, and as well as the usual lack of fitness and dubious weather, this time around has been special as the psychological tendency to stay inside was made official. 

The UK lockdown has proceeded, without interruption, ever since December when (in a series of whiplash-inducing U-turns) the government closed down all travel outside local areas, and all but essentially shops and services. This was probably the right thing to do -but given they'd spent months insisting that this would never happen, and effectively cancelled Christmas plans for almost everybody in the South East at a few days notice, it didn't go down particularly well. Not being able to go anywhere, do anything, or see friends or family at all, we consoled ourselves by systematically eating and drinking all the holiday supplies ourselves in a few days.

This gluttony and lethargy has not helped in getting active again, and neither has a particularly strong season of cold and floods. I have slowly been getting out for day-rides around Bedfordshire once again (I haven't been writing them up here as they're rather repetitive of the ones from Tour Displacement Therapy this time last year). The Shift is in great condition - my fitness, not so much. If you read about the routes from last year and just imagine me doing them, but slower, you'll pretty much get the idea.

International readers may be aware of the UK's relative success with the vaccination drive. Apart from the general surprise at being able to say huh, we're actually doing something well! this is grounds for optimism. The focus on first-shot vaccination was something of a hail-Mary gamble from central government (test-and-trace has been an unequivocal disaster, and in 2020 the UK had one of the worst excess deaths and biggest fall in GDP in the developed world) - but it seems to have payed off well, so far at least. Perhaps more luck than judgement, then, but if it can control the virus and let us get out, a least a little bit, I'm all in favour. 

While it's not like we've had it too hard compared to lots of people, it's still been a major trial and we've scrupulously followed the rules. And now there's light at the end of the tunnel - restrictions are slowly being lifted, people can meet outside, and take-away cafes can open (still no sitting indoors).  

So, over the last couple of weeks I've come to a point where I have a whole load of holiday time to use up; the weather is looking actually pretty good; and while there are no hotels, campsites, or indoor services open, there's nothing really to stop you cycling around. What this means though, is that for a multi-day trip it will need to be wild camping all the way. And it being England, where every scrap of land is owned by someone (and hence technically "private") - that means stealth camping too.

This would be a challenge and an adventure - but I'm pretty much fine with this, I actually haven't stayed in a UK campsite for about 10 years! Southern England, despite being one of the most densely populated regions on earth, is actually remarkably amenable to wild camping. Usually I don't do it this early in the year, however...

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Graham Finch"If anywhere is the end of England and the end of land it's Hull and beyond Hull." John Betjeman

I was there a few years ago, but didn't stay the night.

As you ride north, you may want to call in at Wainfleet, just south of Skegness -- there's a brewery there!

Good luck.
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1 year ago
Deleted AccountI can't understand why anyone would wish to go voluntarily to Hull, and I'm saying that as a Yorkshireman. I'm reminded of the saying, "From Hell, Hull and Halifax, may the good Lord deliver us". I'm sure you'll survive, though. Enjoy your trip.
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1 year ago
Jon AylingTo Graham FinchCheers Graham - ah, felt sure the poetry was going to be from Philip Larkin!

Thanks for the tip - I enjoyed reading your East England journal, very useful pointers for the coastal sections.
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1 year ago
Jon AylingTo Deleted AccountThanks David - hah, I've heard that before too, but couldn't remember it exactly. "Hell, Hull and Halifax" might make a good title for a tour. I have been to Hell (on the train), so I'll see how it compares.
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1 year ago