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The 0624 train from Hampton-in-Arden took me to Birmingham International in ample time to catch the 0700 Virgin Pendolino. An uneventful journey brought me into Euston at 0814 where I assembled the bike and cycled through a quiet London to Liverpool Street Station, via Smithfield Market and the Barbican. I have given up trying to take the folded bike on the underground as it has to be carried quite a distance and it can be very difficult to fit on crowded carriages.
After a short wait, I boarded the 0900 train for Norwich, via Ipswich (my stop). These trains, coaches pulled by separate locomotives, are so much quieter and relaxing than those with underfloor engines. We pulled in to Ipswich Station at 1007, leaving a frustrating 3/4 hour to kill before catching the 1058 to Felixstowe. Fortunately, this train was on schedule, albeit noisy, arriving at my destination at 1124.
Felixstowe, particularly around the station (or more accurately, where the line ended), was not at first promising. The first impression is one of car parks and light industry but, as I progressed, it dawned on me that Felixstowe is a town of quality. The original Victorian station terminus still exists, but the line stops some way short of it. Felixsowe's well kept wide avenues are lined with substantial house from the 1920's. The seafront was even more impressive, with gardens covering the low cliffs and large Victorian villas dotted here and there.
Harwich has resisted the passage of time very well, as testified by the old pier and attractive buildings dating from medieval to Victorian times. A real gem of architecture is the Electric Palace, one of Britain's earliest purpose built cinemas which opened in 1911. The route now took me along the waterfront with views across to Felixstowe and then inland through a mediocre housing estate before I parted company with Harwich and cycled along the B1414.
Little Oakley (1325 - 5 Miles) was was a real village with shop, clapperboard houses and an old pub, the Cherry Tree. I then pushed on along unclassified (also undistinguished) lanes until I reached Great Oakley (1350 - 7 Miles). Great Oakley, by contrast, was a larger village strung out along the main road with older brick and rendered buildings interspersed with modern houses.
Great Oakley (1350 - 7 Miles) Was a pleasant enough village of dark red brick and whitewashed buildings strung out along the main road. I did not feel inspired to take photographs here, so I pressed on through the undulating countryside.
Kirkby le Soken (1430 - 14 miles) Had much more character and the old pub gave it the feeling of a "real" village.
Walton on the Naze (1445 - 15 Miles) had a distinctly "end of season" feel to it, unlike my visit the previous year when the sun was shining and there were lots of holidaymakers around.
I took a few pictures from the cliff top before boarding the 1500 train to London Liverpool Street, change at Thorpe le Soken. In London I had plenty of time for a leisurely ride to Euston and the train home to Hampton in Arden via Birmingham International.
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