Saturday, 24 June 2017

Our cycle tour from Eye

Big Head by Ben Platts-Mills 
One of the leaflets in our current campsite's information pack, Cycling Around Eye, detailed two cycle routes both of which start in the nearby town of Eye in Suffolk. We chose the longer of the two, a twenty-one mile jaunt, and set out in glorious sunshine complete with a picnic lunch and plenty of cold water in my new stainless steel drinking flask which has been a godsend so far on this holiday.

From our Braiseworth starting point, we headed down to Thorndon where remains of a Bronze Age settlement were discovered. Bronze tools from the site are displayed in the British Museum, but we didn't see anything about the find as we pedalled through the village. Thorndon church tower dates from the fourteenth century.

Leaving Thorndon, our road went east and then north to Occold where we joined up with the Route Two of our leaflet. This pretty village is named in the Domesday Book as Acholt meaning oak wood in old Aenglish and there are still several impressive oak trees in the vicinity. I remembered the proud village signs in Suffolk and Norfolk from our time touring the UK in 2015 so enjoyed spotting several more examples.

This part of Suffolk has innumerable pretty houses and cottages, many of which are painted in pastel colours and have amazing gardens. I could have filled a books with photographs of cute homes so you will probably be glad to know that just this one will stand to represent them all in this post! I was tempted to imagine myself living in several!

Past Bedingfield, Redlingfield and Athelington, we paused at Horham for lunch. Dave used to work in Horam in Sussex and the village names probably have the same linguistic root meaning a muddly enclosure or place. Both are much posher than that today! Benjamin Britten lived in the Suffolk Horham for a time and the village holds a second musical claim to fame in that they hold the oldest peal of eight bells in the world. The bells are even on a village sign by the church although fortunately weren't pealing through our lunch.

St Mary's, Horham 
From Horham to Denham and on to Hoxne and we were both starting to feel a little the worse for wear! Suffolk seems much flatter at the start of a long bike ride than by the three-quarters mark! Perhaps if we both cycled more often it would help? I was pleased by the patience and courteousness of the vast majority of car drivers we encountered (except for one Audi driver - why is it always an Audi?!) and we did mostly have the roads to ourselves which made for a relaxing tour.

Plodding back from Hoxne to Eye to Braiseworth, I screeched to a halt on spotting the Big Head sculpture pictured at the top of this post. It is a little way out of town tucked behind a gate so we probably would have missed it completely from a car.

Dave will tot up an accurate total of our mileage on gmaps later, but we are confident we cycled between twenty-five and thirty miles altogether - the mapped route plus getting to it and back again - before collapsing in sweaty messes back at our tent!

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