So to the final day , and a 45 mile stretch from Kings Lynn down to Peterborough.
Waking up in my room above a pub was a strange experience. Not only was I the only resident I was also the only human being on site. No chance of breakfast here then! Dismissing thoughts that the world had indeed finally ended in Kings Lynn I quietly slipped out the back door, slamming the door behind me.
After a restorative breakfast (where the elders of Lynn discussed the merits or otherwise of the free bus pass) I was back out on NCN route 1 again, heading out towards March. Its not long before the themes of the day emerge – a low flat and seemingly endless landscape punctuated by drainage channels, cuts and rivers. Barely a couple of feet above sea level its not surprising that everywhere you look you see water.
Back in the 16thC the drainageof the fens (against whose backdrop Eastern Angles latest production Dark Earth is set) must have been a considerable enterprise. Today, under grey skies, and with barely a sole around it’s easy to see why MR James (who I first encountered on this trip in Aldeburgh) would set several of his ghost stories here.
After three hours of cycling I head through a park and pause for a moment outside of March library (through a Creative Arts East initiative one of the first venues for the John Clare tour). Determined to be finished by 5 I dont pause long.
On route to March I come across one of the (if not the) shortest cycle lane I have ever seen…
Pettiness aside, I’m certainly benefitting from the Fens Cycle Tourism project as I zig zag my way towards Peterborough. There is so much zig zaging in fact that in one mile long stretch I cross the railway (usually by level crossing) some 5 times before arriving at Whittlesea library – another early venue for the Clare play.
The final stage of the ride was as perfect an end as I could have wished for. Route 63 takes you virtually all the way on an off road cycle track, perched on top of its own embankment. Then after a couple of miles a real treat; the route takes you across the River Nene on the huge dramatic sweep of Shanks Millennium Bridge, purpose built for cyclists and walkers. My only regret Bridges Sounding (the audio piece installed on the bridge didn’t appear to be working).
From there it was the briefest of rides to the atmosphericFlag Fen Bronze Age Centre, home to the Must Farm boats and a 3,500 year old causeway. A space so seeped in history (and discovered through archeological digs) could not be more perfect as a venue for Dark Earth in September.
Now I am really on the home stretch. From Flag Fen I follow the Peterborough Green wheel (so called as it creates a ‘wheel’ around Peterborough see PECT for full info and othrt initiative s) which, barring the odd threatening swan who seemed interested in my saddle bags, delivered me safe and sound to the key theatre.
The key theatre has of course been a significant Eastern Angles partner. Its hosted rehearsal periods recently for both I heart Peterborough and Parkway Dreams as well as being a venue for countless EA performances.
A quick dash past the lido takes you to Chauffeurs Cottage – hosted by Metal – the Eastern Angles base in Peterborough.
From there the Cathedral provides a worthy backdrop for my loyal companion of the last 9 days. We’ve performed here and have exciting plans for the future….
Crossing the city centre takes me to Lincoln Road subject of one of our Peterborough plays. A passing pedestrian was most concerned seeing my bike prostrate by the street sign and me fumbling with my mobile. ‘Can I help at all….theres a mechanic around the corner…’ he was rather bemused when I explained what I was doing.
Just time to drop down to River Lane (after which the Peterborough Community Play for 2014 is named)
Then it is a dash to the finish line – The library building home to Vivacity, the John Clare theatre and the Forty Years On project. Ironically the first ever oral history taken for the Forty Years On project was from Graham Walker, architect of the library. 150 interviews later the project is revealing more and more about the recent development of Peterborough.
After nine days in the saddle and well over 400 miles I collapse with beer and donughts onto the quarter to six Ipswich train with a smile on my face.