Day 25 It’s Lincolnshire!

Thursday 30 April 2015

Sutton Bridge to Fosdyke Bridge (then Wyberton into Boston)
20 miles
YNot Guest House (I know why not!)

The forecast was for rain in the afternoon so after yesterday’s experience, and with a very long walk of the same ilk today, I set off early. The lovely lady from the pub I stayed at gave me an egg mayo roll to take with me and a lift around the Sutton Bridge Port in case they wouldn’t let me through. Those 2 small things set me off with a spring in my step for another march around the edge of The Wash. It felt like a march more than a walk because there was little to see and I passed no one. The most excitement was skirting around RAF Holbeach bombing range, which extends into The Wash. The red flags were flying but unfortunately I didn’t see any aircraft.  

Aim Here; the RAF Holbeach bombing range
As I got further around towards the Fosdyke Wash I could see the famous Boston Stump in the distance.  

Looking across The Wash at the Boston Stump
I was lucky with the weather and although rain threatened I never felt more than a few spots. It was very windy and chilly again though and I was glad when I arrived at the Fosdyke Bridge, the final one of the 3 that link N Norfolk to Lincolnshire. Feeling a few spots of rain I decided to pop into The Ship for a welcome pint. Whilst sipping said pint I discovered from the barmaid that the Internet had lied to me and there are in fact no buses in this small town to take me to Boston. I was hoping to catch a bus to Boston and then back to Fosdyke in the morning to carry on my walk but a rethink was now required. In the end I got a taxi to Wyberton, just outside Boston, and walked the rest of the way to my accommodation. The taxi driver couldn’t take me all the way to Boston because he had a school run to do, there were no other taxi drivers in the area and no point being dropped at a bus stop because the buses get diverted for the school run…well it is Lincolnshire!

Day 24 The Peter Scott walk to Lincolnshire

Wednesday 29 April 2015

Kings Lynn to Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire
15 miles
The Riverside Inn

Another good day for the wind turbines. I had a strange evening in Bev’s house as she went out to work and then stayed out all night. Very embarrassingly I opened the window in my room (I like an open window) and then pulled the handle off the window. Oops. I’m not used to breaking other people’s houses. 

It was overcast but not raining when I left Kings Lynn on the Lynn Ferry across the Great Ouse to West Lynn. There has been a ferry across the Ouse since 1285. Walking across Kings Lynn Tuesday Market Place enlightened me to the heritage of this town on the NW corner of the Fens that was once an important merchant city and still has some grand buildings.  

The Lynn Ferry with Kings Lynn in the background
From West Lynn I started on the Peter Scott walk around the sea wall, looking out across The Wash, the 11 miles to the Nene River. After an hour the rain arrived and it wasn’t long before the combination of wind and rain was chilling my fingers in particular.  

no good views today, this photo taken just before the heavy rain started
There was one building, an empty cow shed, that represented any sort of human life on this walk and I came across it 40 minutes after the heavy rain started. I was glad of a bit of shelter and the chance to put more clothes on in the dry, and particularly my gloves. I decided to make a brew and wait until the rain stopped (according to the forecast it would and I could see a brighter sky approaching slowly).  

making a brew in a cow shed sheltering from the rain
Once the rain stopped I got going again and the wind soon dried everything that was wet, which was only really my shorts and legs as I have a good rain jacket. 

The views weren’t inspiring me today, no sea, just marshland and not much sign of wildlife (I think they were all sheltering) even though this is yet another nature reserve. There were a couple of strange mounds rising out of the marshes; these are man made and the  furthest one away was built in 1975 and designated a sea bird nesting reserve in 1987.  

man made mounds in The Wash
At the mouth of the Nene River are 2 lighthouses that were built in 1830, when the Fens were drained, to signify the entrance to the river for boats in The Wash. The East Lighthouse was Sir Peter Scott’s home before he founded the WWF (the one for wildlife not wrestlers!).   

The lighthouse gate guardians of the Nene River
 After a wet and windy walk I was ready for a hot shower and a cup of tea. 

Day 23 There’s No Coast Path Through the Sandringham Estate!

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Heacham to Kings Lynn
10 miles
Beverley’s house (Airbnb)

No second breakfast required today after a stay in a lovely B&B that I fully recommend if you’re ever in Heacham. Jo you would have been proud of me, I ate until I was full and then ate some more. It was a wonder I managed to get moving, but I did and I set off early to try and beat the rain that was promised in the afternoon. It was unbelievably windy.  So windy that I almost had to dig my hat and gloves, which would have looked funny as I was wearing my shorts. Too much tea meant pissing in the wind became a literal rather than metaphorical phrase for me as I struggled along the coastal path taking shelter behind the sea wall whenever I could. 

Where’s the sea? Looking out at The Wash
I passed through Snettisham RSPB reserve, where I should have turned inland to Dersingham, but I didn’t know that. Suddenly the coast path seemed to disappear and before I knew it (call it lack of attention in the howling gale) I was in the middle of marshy land trying to cut through the spiky bushes that were scratching my legs (now I was wishing I’d worn trousers). The sensible thing at this point would have been to retrace my steps, but no, why do that when you’re convinced you can find a way through. Idiot. I struggled on, jumping ditches and forcing my way through waist high grasses until I finally got out onto the raised bank. Unfortunately, on the way I disturbed a nesting greylag goose (I’m not sure who was the most shocked) and she flew off her nest of eggs. Not my finest moment.  

Greylag goose eggs
The only way out, other than heading back up the coast, was through a gate marked private so I decided to risk it. I could see a man walking towards me so I got my map out and pretended I was lost. It turned out he worked for the RSPB (thank goodness he hasn’t turned up 15 minutes earlier when I was blundering through his reserve disturbing the wildlife) and very helpfully showed me the way out. He did suggest that I might get yelled at if anyone from the estate saw me as they are strict about trespassers. Fortunately no one saw me and I made it out to Wolferton, passing a little memorial to a downed RAF pilot on the way.  

memorial to a Tornado pilot who crashed near Wolferton in 1983
It was only when I reached safety that I realised it was the Queen’s estate I had been trespassing on.  

Oops. Definitely shouldn’t have been there
Seeing as the Queen doesn’t have a coast path through her estate I thought maybe someone ought to complain about it, and so I decided to walk to Sandringham and tell her. First I stopped off at the Wolferton Royal Train Station for a quick peek into the past.   

Wolferton Royal Train Station, closed 1969
I took advantage of my last few days in the military granting me free access to Sandringham and enjoyed a couple of hours looking around the house, museum and church (lovely place to get married Chris). Unfortunately the Queen wasn’t in so I had to have tea on my own in the cafe.  
View of Sandringham House from the grounds
After a nice and relaxed afternoon I hopped on the bus from Sandringham straight to Kings Lynn to avoid walking on the roads. We drove through Castle Rising and I must come back to look at the castle there sometime. 

A strange but fulfilling day.  

Day 22 Brancaster Bay and Lots of Wildlife

Monday 27 April 2015

Burnham Deepdale to Heacham
15.5 miles
St Anne’s Guest House

My tent was virtually dry this morning so it was easy to pack up, and even better that I could nip to the cafe next door for breakfast mid packing. I’d definitely stay here again.

There were some lovely big houses in Brancaster facing out to sea across the marsh. Brancaster Staithe also has a tiny quay dating back to the 1700s when grain and coal were brought in; the grain for making huge quantities of beer. Sadly no longer.   

the tide was out at Brancaster Staithe Quay; not as busy as it was in 1700
 As high tide wasn’t until 2.20pm I decided to walk along the miles of fine sandy beach rather than stick to the coast path. On another glorious sunny day what could be better? 

miles of Brancaster beach in the sunshine
 I needed to cross a small channel of water crossing the beach from a creek just before Titchwell. Before I took my shoes off for a short, and cold, paddle I walked up the creek a bit and was rewarded with a seal show. There were 4 small seals in the creek, probably waiting for the tide to come in so they could swim back out to sea and they were very curious of me. They kept looking at me, diving down and waving their tails in the air and then swimming right up to the shore where I was stood. It was such a lovely experience.  

seals stuck in a Brancaster creek at low tide
 I had to come inland at Titchwell RSPB reserve as there was another, bigger channel further on that I knew I wouldn’t be able to cross. The birders were out in force and I was subject of a lot of strange looks in my shorts and thin t-shirt (it was a hot day) while they were in trousers and winter coats and hats. Oh well. There was plenty of bird life about all day and I saw flocks of oyster catchers and lots of sanderlings on the sea shore, terns dive bombing into the sea to catch fish, a lapwing dive bombing a kestrel and plenty more besides. I didn’t see a grasshopper warbler that one birder I came across was searching for, but I did hear it. 

I walked through the very pretty village of Thornham, which looked like the sort of place where the village council demand you paint your house a certain colour and keep the front garden up to scratch. It worked. After Thornham I was able to walk all the way to Hunstanton on the beach in the sunshine. The beach was littered with pretty shells, particularly razor clam shells that crunch underfoot. 

lots of lovely sea shells on the Brancaster sea shore
 I arrived at the North end of Hunstanton early afternoon and decided, once I reached the other side of town, that this was the posh end. It had big houses up on a cliff by the ex-coastguard lookout and lighthouse, both of which are now dwellings. There was also the remains of a chapel dedicated to St Edmund, the Saxon King, who is supposed to have landed here in 855 and was then martyred by the Danes when they beat him in battle a few years later. From the cliff top I could see Lincolnshire, in fact it was such a clear day that I’m sure I could see the whole of the Lincolnshire coast as there were hills further up, which must be the wolds? 

The view across The Wash to Lincolnshire from Hunstanton
 From South Hunstanton I walked the last 2 miles along the promenade to Heacham watching the clouds roll in slowly from the West. 

WEEK 3 – Blaxhall, Suffolk to Burnham Deepdale, N Norfolk

  

109 miles walked
(total 270 miles)

What a great week. There was a lot of wildlife and time spent walking along the beach in glorious April sunshine. This week was all about the views and the changing landscapes. These are some of my highlights and observations: 

  • Best view – walking from Dunwich to Southwold and coming out of the woods to views of the sun glinting off the meres on either side of the path to the sea. 
  • Quirkiest place – The Hill House Inn, Happisburgh. 
  • Prettiest Town – Cley-Next-The-Sea with its beautiful windmill located on a hill at the edge of the marshes. 
  • Best campsite – Burnham Deepdale was clean, friendly and well located. 
  • Accommodation in Norfolk is hard to find – I struggled to find campsites on the coast that will take a tent (static caravans rule) and guest houses are busy, even on weekdays in April. 

Despite a detour midweek to buy new boots I still averaged 15 miles a day. The new boots seemed to instantly solve my foot problems and the detour to Norwich gave me a good view of the Norfolk Broads. The Broads reminded me of Holland; flat with lots of water channels and windmills (I didn’t see any tulips or clogs). 

It was a fairly solitary week so it was extra nice to meet Chris’s Aunt Mary for a proper chat. 

A stunning week with some big highlights. 

    Day 21 Holkham Beach

    Sunday 26 April 2015

    Wells-next-the-Sea to Burnham Deepdale
    15 miles
    Burnham Deepdale Backpackers Campsite

    Breakfast wasn’t served until 8 am by the old lady (who is 80). From the limited menu I chose poached eggs on toast. Mistake. It’s like going back in time to the 70s.  

    yum…not!
    Still, the old lady was nice and she’s been running the B&B for 40 years (I don’t think she’s changed anything). She told me not to come to Wells in the summer as it’s too crowded. I think I’ll take her advice. 

    The miniature train wasn’t running so I walked the kilometre down to the beach, and what a beach. Holkham beach is famous for its vast expanse of sand, used by the Cavalry who bring their horses on holiday here. The beach is sheltered from Westerly winds by a pine forest, there are old fashioned beach huts and then there is nothing but beautiful sand and sea.  

    beach huts and pine forest at Holkham beach
     
    the upper class out with their horses
    I watched some horses canter down the beach and then followed them down through the gap leading to Holkham Park and Hall. I decided to see if I could improve on my first breakfast with a stop at The Victoria, the inn owned by The Earl of Leicester’s estate. It was an improvement.  

    my 2nd breakfast at The Victoria, Holkham Estate
    I retraced my steps back to Holkham beach and continued along and then around the corner into Overy Marshes. There were no people here, just the birds to keep me company. I heard a bittern booming from within the reeds, and was serenaded by the constant wireless tuning sound of the lapwings. At one point the marshes reminded me of the giant weather map that GMTV used to have (anyone who was a student in the 90s would know about this).  

    GMTV weather map of the Highlands?
     After about 5 miles of walking alongside the marshes and the creek I arrived at Burnham Deepdale backpackers campsite about half an hour after the sun came out. I have become an expert at pitching my tent and then washing and drying my walking clothes before heading to the nearest pub complete with puffy jacket and flip flops. Good job I don’t care what I look like!

    Thanks Spike for the recommendation of the Jolly Sailor. It does good beer and pizzas. 

    Day 20 Peaceful Norfolk Coastal Marshes

    Saturday 25 April 2015

    Sheringham to Wells-next-the-Sea
    16.5 miles
    Eastdene B&B (not recommended)

    Thank goodness there is a tescos in Sheringham as I needed to replenish my snack stocks. I had a nice walk over the cliffs to start, through the gorse bushes in full bloom and past the golf course to Sherbourne. Here I walked up the lane from the beach to meet Chris’ Aunt Mary who owns Millstream House B&B. Mary fed me coffee, fruit and cake and we had a good chat – something I miss a little bit being on my own. After an hour and a half I was quite behind in my walking until Mary offered me a lift up the road to Salthouse so that I didn’t have to walk too far on the shingle beach. Time for another piece of coconut and lime cake then, excellent. 

    After the shingle beach came Cley marshes, which are mostly freshwater and alongside the River Glaven. Another nature reserve and the birders were out in force. At Cley Eye you have to walk inland from the beach, across the marshes, to the very pretty Cley-next-the-Sea in order to get a bridge across the river and come back down the other side. From Cley Eye you can walk to Blakeney point, at the tip of a big spit of sand and another breeding site for sandwich- and little- terns. I didn’t have the time or the energy for the extra 4 miles today. 

    As you look across the flat marshes from the beach there are 2 small hills (little bumps really) with houses on them; one is Cley and the other is Blakeney. Cley has a beautiful windmill and Blakeney has a church poking out of the trees on top of the hill.  

    the windmill at Cley-next-the-Sea
    From Blakeney the rest of the walk was all alongside salt marshes. I passed lots of people, but the Saturday afternoon strollers are not as friendly and so not many even said hello. On the wildlife front I was treated to a good view of a pair of marsh harriers and at one point a hare ran out in front of me, I startled it, and it turned tail and ran away.  

    the view across Stiffkey salt marshes with Blakeney Point in the distance
    Arriving at Wells-next-the-Sea the clouds seemed to be getting darker and more threatening, and the wind was picking up so I was glad to arrive at my B&B. I struggled to find accommodation in Wells so had to make do with an over-priced and rather dirty room in an old lady’s house. Still, I could be camping (if I could find any campsites). The local pub was full and served decent food so I spent my usual evening trying to plan ahead. Not quite the same as an evening in my local at home.  
    Look what I’m missing in my local pub at home!
     

    Day 19 The Path is Affected by Cliff Erosion and High Tide

    Friday 24 April 2015

    Happisburgh to Sheringham, N Norfolk
    17.5 miles
    Sheringham Youth Hostel

    It was a later start today than I intended as I got talking to the pub landlord at breakfast, and he can talk. He used to be an aircraft engineer for Hawker Siddeley; a proper engineer (Gareth I can introduce you if you want?). He now owns The Hill House Inn.  

    I looked in on the barman making beer (The DancingMenBrewery is in residence) in preparation for the annual Solstice Beer Festival to be held18-22 June. If anyone’s in the area give it a go. 

    Another sunny day and I was sure to put lots of suncream on as I burnt yesterday. I walked a couple of miles on the cliff top before I had to hit the beach in order to get around the enormous gas distribution centre at Bacton. Apparently 60% of our gas comes into the UK here, this I gleaned in the pub last night. 

    I popped into the Mundesley Coastwatch hut to check that I could get all the way to the next town along the beach and I can only say that the Coastwatch man didn’t know his coast! Walking the beach was hard work as it was near high tide but I did see lots of sand martins nesting in the eroding cliffs and watched a fisherman land a sea hound (looks like a small shark). 

    Sand martins nesting
    After about 3 miles I reached an impass, where the fallen cliffs had obstructed the beach and the sea was still crashing against the protective groynes.  

    no way through at high tide
    Here I met Kristina, a quantity surveyor, originally from Germany but now resident in London, on holiday in Norfolk and also waiting for the ride to recede. We were stuck for almost an hour before we felt able to run along the barrier wall without getting too wet.

    It was a relief to get off the beach at Overstrand as I was starving by then. Fortunately the Cliff Top Cafe came to my rescue and I was able to refuel and enjoy the magnificent view out to sea. Apparently from the cafe to Tower Bridge by sea is 178 miles (it’s a lot further if you take the coastal route!). 

    Two miles over the cliffs and through the Royal Cromer Golf Course to Cromer and the obligatory crab sandwich. Suddenly the visibility deteriorated a bit, it almost went misty and the sun disappeared; I don’t know where because clouds didn’t roll in. It was almost like someone turned the dimmer switch and the sky went from sunny and blue to grey. Very strange. 

    Cromer appeared like a typically pretty seaside town. As if to emphasise the fact I noticed the sea no longer looked brown but had changed to blue and looked very clear from the cliff top. I ate my crab sandwich and then pressed on to Sheringham, once more on the beach but by now the tide was out and walking on the wet sand was lovely. I passed Cromer pier, winner of pier of the year 2015.   

    Approaching Cromer
    For the final couple of miles I was able to get onto the cliff top again and experienced my first hill of the trip, Beeston Hill. It’s a whole 65m above the shore but affords great views of the area and was the site of a WW2 Y Station (phonetic abbreviation for Wireless Intercept Station).  

    Looking back down the coast to Cromer from Beeston Hill
    A night in Sheringham YH awaited and a chance to do some laundry. 

    Remember Jaywick?

    Thanks to Sally for sending me a link to this BBC news article. I walked through Jaywick on day 10 and wrote that it was the most poverty stricken place I’d seen. Having watched the BBC video I think they must have trawled the town to find these people; they seem a lot more sober than everyone I met!

    Election 2015: Politics in a poor seaside town

    Jaywick was named most deprived place in England in 2010. It lies in the first constituency to elect a UKIP MP.