Horstead, Coltishall, Norfolk
After thirty-two consecutive years the Young Bell Ringer’s Cycling Tour has finally achieved establishment status. Alongside other long-standing tours such as the Roving, Raving and Rambling Ringers, the YBRCT has earned its place in ringing’s hall of fame and now enjoys a pleasingly high reputation.
Some years ago we abandoned out traditional format based on a week-long circular journey using YHA hostels and elected to base the tour on a single centre; going out on radial journeys each day and returning each evening to our accommodation. This has conferred many benefits but we have lost that important sense of “pilgrimage” as we used to progress from hostel A to hostel B and onwards back to A at the end of the week. It also means that we do not need to carry all our kit each day!
This year the tour was based at the Horstead Centre near Coltishall, North of Norwich. This offered us a bright, clean and pleasant home with a variety of accommodation ranging from single rooms right up to (or is it down to?) multi bedded dormitories. The only disappointment was the food! Centres used to accommodating coach-bound school parties get a culinary shock when a large party of virile cyclists descend on them. However, the staff proved tolerant of the strange antics of bell ringers and accepted phlegmatically the barrels of beer that seemed to be the tourists’ main preoccupation. The tour has its own specialist purveyor of “fine ales” in the person of “Phil the Pint” who did a consistently brisk trade throughout the week.
In an area like Norfolk that is so rich in bells it was fairly simple to construct traditional YBRCT days – about six mixed towers spaced out over around thirty-five miles, always allowing time for a decent pub lunch at some pleasant watering hole. Evenings were spent “foraging” around local practices where, we should record, we invariably received a warm and courteous welcome. There was a distressing shortage of three and four bells towers, which, mysteriously, seemed to disappoint our more eccentric members inordinately – there seems no accounting for taste.
The standard of ringing seems to rise every year and it is pleasing to leave behind such a good impression at so many towers. Spliced Surprise is now commonplace and the quality of the striking is extremely high, even amongst the less experienced ringers. Good scenery, good ringing, good beer and all in extremely good company.