10. 09. 2017
Foulness had been fascinating me for a long time - I had heard and read about it in various places, and some years back had found out about an annual bike ride / race organised by Thorpe Bay Rotary Club, taking place in late August / early September. The island is MOD territory, and is usually inaccessible save for residents and workforce. The fabulous Heritage Centre, located in the former school house, can be visited on every first Sunday of the Month from April to October - but access is only allowed by car. The only other access, which is theoretically available all year round, is via the Broomway, as it's covered by a public right of way (as are other paths on the island, but not the main road). So the organised ride is really the only option to explore the island by bike - registering is prerequisite.
To add a few miles we decided to set out from London and cycle out to Foulness - something I would not necessarily repeat: for efficiency's sake we at some point ended up on the A13, and whilst it might be great for driving out of town, it is no great fun to cycle along it. Probably one of the most harrowing experiences I've had on a bike.
Anyway, we made it to Cupids Country Club, the start and finish of the ride, in good time to refuel before our allocated slot at 12:30. After that, it was blissful tranquility - I think we encountered 2 cars within the next one and a half hours. There were plenty of people out and about on bicycles - plenty of families, too, with children as young as 6 battling into the relentless head wind, and there is not much shelter on the 9km stretch from the country club, crossing Havengore Creek and into Churchend. We spent quite some time exploring the heritage centre, before completing the loop and heading back to the finish.
Foulness is a special place, which feels slightly removed from the rest of the country – I can thoroughly recommend participating in the ride.
(Photography is very restricted on the island – hence most photos are of the heritage centre...)