I’ve a soft spot for royalty. It’s a bog in the North Yorkshire Moors…
I may not be a fan of hereditary privilege, but I did enjoy cycling through Sandringham Estate today, and visiting an unusual disused royal station.
I was in King’s Lynn for three nights, for reasons too complex to relate here. But if you’re going to be marooned in a terminus town in East Anglia, at least you can be marooned with a bike. So, on this freezing cold but gloriously sunny and cloud-free day, I enjoyed a gentle loop to the royal estate.
I rode the riverside path into the centre. It all felt very Dutch, gliding along smooth, floodbanktop tarmac through flatlands to a port town. Until I got to the town itself of course, when it felt like England again, with my segregated cycle lane blocked by a parked SUV.
The railtrail out north from the centre, aka NCN1, is rather good though, wide and well-used, and it whisked me out of the centre. It proved very well-signed.
Too well-signed at one point, in fact: one for a shared-use cycle path has, immediately below, another saying cycling is prohibited.
I rode along country lanes to somewhere I’d heard about and wanted to visit: Wolferton Station. The lanes between it and Sandringham are lush and grounds-like, and it makes a lovely little side jaunt from the Sustrans route.
Wolferton is the former railway halt used by the royal family to get to their country estate at Sandringham. Well restored and very photogenic, it’s now in private hands but you can tour it by arrangement. I was particularly taken by the Royal Retiring Rooms, which I totally approve of. I’d like to see them all retire.
From there I trundled back to NCN1 and rode slowly through the well-wooded grounds of Sandringham itself. There’s a very pleasant car-free family cycle track for a mile or so to the cafe. The car-free element is especially welcome, given the royals’ recent track record of driving skills round here.
I retraced my steps through Castle Rising, and another nice car-free lane, and back to King’s Lynn. The central park is a delight to cycle through, with wide smooth paths and – as with the rest of the town – picturesque old buildings and city wall remains.
The sunset was mildly spectacular, lighting up the paper factory in a very photographerly way. Even the clumsiest snapper couldn’t fail to get a good image here. All it took was to wait a few minutes for the right moment.
I couldn’t wait.