Thursday, 11 May 2017

Norfolk Coast Path - Day 3 - Burnham Overy Staithe to Hunstanton

The final day, after sorting out the logistics I was in Burnham Overy Staithe ready to set off over the marshes.

The tide was coming in quite quickly it would be high tide in a couple of hours.


Burnham Windmill a landmark by the side of the main A149 in North Norfolk. It has been owned by The National Trust since 1958. In 1978 they wanted to restore it to working condition but could not get planning permission due to the inadequacy of the main road and it not being able to cope with the additional traffic it was feared this would generate. It is now converted to a holiday cottage and can be rented through:
https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/brancaster-estate/documents/tower-windmill-prices-leaflet-2017.pdf

 
Most of the first section of the day's walk was along the flood bank enclosing Burnham Morton Marsh and this large pool which had a lot of ducks and geese. 

In Brancaster Staithe I passed this ruined looking building where the bricks are rotting away and the brambles and ivy are taking over.

There are a few fishing boats still operating out from the Staithe so there is the usual clutter of fishing gear. There is also a large sailing club here.

The path then continues along Brancaster Marsh Side where, fortunately, there is nearly a mile of boardwalk which means you keep your boots dry

Some kind person had cut off the two pointing arms of this guide post in Brancaster. I wondered if the route had been changed, but no, this where you leave the coast and walk back south into the low hills of the Norfolk Coast. This is big arable farming country and you walk along lanes through huge fields of corn.
After 2½ miles of farm lanes you walk back down into Thornham passing this, probably the least useful finger post on the Path, there was no turn off, you could only go straight on.

In Thornham I stopped on a bench overlooking a rough field to have a coffee and this Muntjac Deer wandered round the field. Quite a few people stopped to look at it and the deer seemed to be unconcerned.

This barn is on the Staithe at Thornham and is the subject of many paintings of the Norfolk Marshes.

I was now moving into sand dunes as I passed through Holme Dunes Nature Reserve. This is where the path begins to turn southwards as the coast turns into the wash at Hunstanton.
 
 It is a wild and windy place.


I now reached the point at which The Peddars Way Path Leaves the Norfolk Coast Path and heads on down 46 miles across Norfolk on the old road to the Suffolk border

 Fortunately for me I only had the 2½ miles to Hunstanton to finish my walk.

 Hunstanton lighthouse, getting there would be most of the rest of the walk.

Old Hunstanton is popular with kite surfers and even on this workday evening there were a dozen or so out on the sea, as the tide was now quite low they faced a long walk to and from the sea.
I left the beach at Old Hunstanton to walk on the cliff top passing between the 2 lifeboat houses.

Inside one of the houses I was surprised to see a hovercraft. I did not realise that the RNLI used hovercraft. This one is H-003 one of seven on the RNLI fleet, 4 are on station and 3 are held in reserve. The others stations with operating hovercraft are Morecambe, Hoylake and Southend-on-Sea.

 I emerged from bushes to suddenly arrive on the north end of Hunstanton's Cliff Parade by the old coastguard lookout.

Hunstanton was the creation of the local landowner, Hamon Le Strange, and the plaque on this shelter says that he opened these cliffs to the public 1879. Hunstanton is in the midst of a makeover at present and most of these old shelters are getting a significant restoration as are many of the gardens and paths.
 Newly arrived Wheatear in the gardens

Journey's End, the marker post showing 47 miles to walk back to Cromer. So that completed my 15.75 miles for the day, and the whole walk done in 3 days. I'm not sure that I will be rash enough to attempt 47 miles in 3 days again. The wonderful Norfolk Coasthopper bus service made it all possible, providing transport links all the way along the Coast Path from Cromer to Hunstanton.
I was now heading off for a celebratory curry in the bright lights of Hunstanton.

May 2017 - Norfolk Coast Path - Day 2 - Blakeney to Burnham Overy Staithe

Day 2 of the walk and after breakfast I could put my boots on and walk straight out of the cottage and straight back on to the Coast Path.
51, High Street, Blakeney, home for the week.



1¼ miles later and I reach Morston Harbour, the departure point for boat trips to see the Seals on Blakeney Point. The first 5 miles of today's walk runs along the edge of National Trust land with farmland on the left and the salt marshes on the right with only occasional creeks coming close to the path.

 Avocets were plentiful on the creaks and pools along the walk.

 It seemed early to me for Poppies to be in flower.

All along this section of coast there were plentiful webs of the Brown Tail caterpillars each marked with two orange dots. These are one of the hairy caterpillars that are said to cause rashes if handled. They have lived through the winter in their webs and will soon be pupating, the moths will be on the wing in July.

Thrift, one of the plants of the coast, both on cliffs and on the edges of the marshland. I think this has always given me pleasure possibly dating from the old three-penny bits which had a representation of the plant on the tails side.

Six miles into the walk and I arrive at the only town on the walk, Wells-next-the-Sea, Wells is a busy little port and had a lot of visitors. I walked out along the flood embankment nearly a mile long and running dead straight to the north. I stopped for my lunch at the Pinewoods Cafe. Which was bright and welcoming and out of the wind!



Not much trade today for the colourful buckets and spades, but the cafe was doing great business with the dog-walkers.
 

After walking through Holkham Pines and Dunes it was good to come into Burnham Overy Staithe where I would be catching my bus back to Blakeney (change at Wells). The walk was easier today being only just over 14 milles long and I had found the route easier to navigate.


This new house in Burnham Overy Staithe had a large sundial on the wall dated 2015, it's nice to see that there are some new sundials being created, we rather seem to have stopped placing public time pieces now that most people carry a watch or a phone.










Sunday, 7 May 2017

May 2017 - Norfolk Coast Path - Day 1 - Cromer to Blakeney

I had the idea that I could spend 3 days walking the Norfolk Coast Path. There is a regular bus service along the coast from King's Lynn to Cromer provided by Stagecoach under the operating route name of Coasthopper. I had taken a cottage in Blakeney and worked out that this was just one third of the way between Cromer and Hunstanton, the original start and end of the Norfolk Coast Path. Monday morning saw me on the first bus eastwards from Blakeney heading for Cromer. After a quick coffee I searched out the start of my walk on the sea front. I should say the new England Coast Path has now taken over from the Norfolk Coast Path and I should have been starting some 35 miles further east in Hopton-on-Sea just south of Great Yarmouth.
 Cromer Pier on a Bank Holiday

I mistook this for a war memorial, but it actually marks the dedication of a lady councillor who represented Poppyland for many years.


Memorial to Henry Blogg, Coxswain of the Cromer Life-boat and was "One of the bravest men who ever lived".  In Cromer the Henry Blogg Museum celebrates the most decorated lifeboatman in RNLI history, who served for 53 years on Cromer’s lifeboats. With the assistance of his crew, he saved over 873 lives from the North Sea.

Apparently a quote from Winston Churchill about Cromer, I was hoping it wasn't going to prove to be true.

I am sure this boy was enjoying himself, although I couldn't see his face.

The council are using goats to keep the growth on the cliffs under control and they are rather fine looking animals, even if I couldn't get a clear shot of them.
A different approach by a caravan owner to keeping the vegetation under control.

I now reached East Runton and realised that I could not find any more direction signs. When I looked at my map I should have been a couple of miles further inland, so had to relocate to where I thought the route should be, but there were no route signs there either. Subsequently I worked out that the new England Coast Path had taken a route along the coast rather than the published route in the guide books and on the Ordnance Survey Maps.
Just to make sure, all the old way marks for the Norfolk Coast Path had been removed and replaced by ones for a "Circular Route". Not particularly helpful.
The old route was very pleasant running through woodland whereas the new route ran through the middle of static caravan parks. I know which I preferred.


The track running back down towards Beeston Regis though swathes of Alexanders, a greenish umbelliferous plant found all along the coastal strip.



 Beeston Regis Church.

The Norfolk Coast Path regained on the cliffs just before the climb of Beeston Bump.
View from the Bump down to Sheringham.

Although it was sunny no one had opened up their beach hut and the wind was whipping in directly off the sea, although at high tide there was no beach either.

Turnstone hiding amongst the pebbles.

 Daisies making a colourful splash in the cliff top gardens.

76084 wearing a "face" as one of the Fat Controller's Very Useful Engines running between Sheringham and Weybourne for a Day Out with Thomas.
 
The shingle bank between Weybourne and Cley which was about 20 foot high has now been wiped out during a number of tidal surges and sea inundations between 2013 and 2015, leaving a vast expanse of shingle spread over miles of the coast.
This used to be he car park at Salthouse beach, now the road just ends were the shingle came to rest and there is not even room to turn a car.
 
 More fresh shingle, looking towards Cley

 I think these iron posts were probably there to anchor the old shingle bank but now they just stick up from the beach

Next to the old coastguards building at Cley beach was a shelter. The coastguard's building is long gone and the shelter has been inundated by shingle completely burying the bench inside on this east facing side.

Cley-next-the-Sea - the windmill, the coast path comes inland from the beach about 1 mile here in order to cross the  River Glaven.

A fierce dog guarding someone's garden against incursions from the path.

At last nearing Blakeney after a further trip out across the marshes from Cley.

Blakeney village looking welcoming as evening falls. Just short of 17 miles in the day, a little further than intended due to the problems at Cromer in the morning. The section between Weybourne and Cley Beach was nearly all on loose shingle and is quite hard going. Still Day 1 is completed and I am on target to complete the rest of the walk in the 3 days I have allowed.