Iona goes to the Races

Our first trip in 2018 is to venture South and East, our destination is Fakenham racecourse. Hopefully the weather will stay snow free, and we have seen the last of the storms that have covered the country in early February.

The drive down was fine apart from having to stop at a lay-by to work out how to tune the radio in.

In the instruction get to the campsite we read that once we got to Fakenham, we needed to ignore the Sat-Nav and follow the campsite signs. This upset the Sat-Nav as it kept recalculating and even told us to turn around at one point. We persevered and arrived without incidence.


Once on the pitch we soon got setup although it took some effort to remember what needed doing and when. We did have one hiccup when we got a warning on the heating programmer. We had wi-fi and I found the fault codes online, our handbook is in every language apart from English. The code suggested no electric or an overheat. It turned out to be my fault because I had not switched the electric on at the isolator switch. All sorted.

The weather turned dull and it started to rain so we stayed in the van and I watched the olympics while Sue read her Kindle. Chinese style curry for supper tonight.

Day 2


We woke to the sound of crows squawking in the trees behind the motorhome. After all the normal blue and pink jobs had been done we walked into Fakenham along the river Wensum. The first main building we came to was an old mill over the river, part of which had been converted to a hotel.

We followed the road a short distant into town.


The town is typical of a wealthy 19th century town. In the centre is a church built with a flint covering like many buildings in this area. There are several impressive buildings, the Bank with ornate stonework, and it is still a bank. Another large building looked like a Corn Exchange now converted to a cinema. The town’s wealth came from local industry, Printers, Agriculture, Bicycle manufacturing, a mill and the Town Gas Works.

In the market square is a sculpture on the ground that is made from Type Sets and edged with pictures of the main industry that built Fakenham, Printing, Gas Works and Horse Racing, The Royal Norfolk Regiment, Bicycle manufacture and Agricultural engineering.


We left the market place and walked around the old town with original shop fronts until we came to Aldiss, a department store. Obviously we had to go and have a look. I feel we will be returning because there were some rather unusual soup bowls reduced.


We walked to the Gas Museum but it does not open until March, we walked back to the campsite via a different route. Tomorrow another walk along the river. Tonight is Steak Night in Iona.

Day 3:


This morning the crows were again vocal and their calls were joined at 7.30am by people setting up a lawnmower display.


Thursday is market day in Fakenham. We walked into town and the market was as good as we had been told. There was a section with antiques and bric-à-brac, along with flower stalls, pet food, an artisan bakery where we bought a Corn Loaf to go with supper.

We found one fruit and veg stall with a difference. Remembering this is North Norfolk with a limited ethnic diversity, yet here was a veg stall that sold all the normal items and then a variety of exotic vegetables where sweet potato was about the only one we knew. There was one that just looked like a root of something. Along with normal field mushrooms there were five or six other types plus figs, dates, mangoes. There were even four types of tomato.

We left the market and called into the Aldiss store that we visited yesterday and I bought a couple of soup bowls.

We followed a footpath alongside the river, some parts had walkways which helped.


We followed it for some way until we came to an old railway bridge over the river.


The river had flooded the path just past the bridge so we left the footpath and climbed up to the old track bed that lead us away from the river. We came across bridge that crossed another disused trackbed.


After a difficult climb down the embankment we followed this new path back towards river.  I spotted some deer tracks. With the woods on one side and a flood plain on the other we continued the walk until I spotted something in a field. At first I thought it was an old oil barrel some 200 yards away, but then it moved and I could see it was a Muntjac deer, then from behind some tall grass another appeared. We watched them for a few minutes before we continued on.

The last part of the trackbed came upto the river where there once was a bridge to the trackbed on the other side. We rejoined the path back to the campsite. Once we were home we had walked just over five miles although the muddy going along the river made it feel more.


After supper of beef bourguignon with mashed potatoes and the Corn bread we bought at the market we settled down to watch the TV. 

However the atmospherics were not in our favour and after retuning it was apparent the pixilation was here to stay. Luckily we had a great free wi-fi signal so we watched our favourite programs on our iPads. 

Day 4:


A slow start this morning before we got ready to walk into town. Today is an important mission. Our destination is Lidl or Aldi, either will do. I need to replenish my beer supplies for the weekend. We are going to look for the bakery to buy more bread to go with tonight’s oriental chicken dish.
We found Aldi first and I replenished my beer stocks with three of Aldi’s finest own label, one bitter and two lagers. We left Aldi and after a visit to an antique emporium we found ourselves back in the town centre so we stooped for a tea and tea cake at the bakery. We then headed home.




Norwich Cycle Way Marker


However, feeling the need to walk off the tea cake we followed a new path along the river to a bridge and the joined a cycle track that took us back towards the town. 

On the way in we passed the original 1911 Fire Station. 


1911 Fire Station


Horse Drawn Fire Engine Station
Copyright – Fakenham Community Archive picture

We walked on via the back streets where you could see the history in the old buildings. There was a Quaker meeting house once here but all that remains is a plaque on a new building. Our path lead us to the Mill and we were soon following the familiar path home. 

Only 4 miles today but there is time left to walk a bit more.


Day 5:

Homeward bound after another great break away in Iona.

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