Day 18 New Boots and Horsey Seals in Norfolk

Thursday 23 April 2015

Great Yarmouth to Happisburgh
19 miles
The Hill House Inn B&B

What a day. Oh happy feet in new boots. 

I spent the whole day walking on the beach or in the dunes (so I probably actually walked at least a mile further than stated) and it was lovely; the sound of the sea accompanied me all day. The further into Norfolk I got, the finer the sand and the fewer the stones on the beach. Still very few people though, mainly dog walkers, and it is noticeable as walking through the dunes one has to pick ones way past the dog poo!

The day started cloudy with not a breath of wind, so the turbines out in Scroby Sands Wind Farm were still; however, by 11 am the sun was coming out and it turned into another gloriously sunny afternoon. I am so tanned that I am concerned by the end of this trip I’ll be 40 but look 50. People might think my mother is my sister (Norfolk joke…my apologies to anyone from Norfolk). 

I reached Winterton-On-Sea in time for a late morning coffee and a quick visit to the Winterton Coastwatch tower. It’s manned by volunteers who record passing shipping for the Coastguard. To do this job you need to be happy spending hours watching the sea and drinking tea.  

Paul manningthe Winterton Coastwatch tower
Winterton looked like a nice place, with some quirky housing, including a lighthouse and some round houses.  

Fancy living here in Winterton-On-Sea?
The afternoon walk from Winterton was one of those magical times that I hoped for on this trip. I began wending my way through the dunes, eyes peeled looking for adders, but I wasn’t lucky enough to see one even though it was really warm, still and great basking conditions. I did see a pair of ring ouzels but gave up on seeing an added and decided to pop over the dunes and down onto the beach. As I came over the dunes I noticed a line over large stones on the shoreline, but hang on a minute, they were moving. It was a line of grey seals, about 400 of them, lying on the beach enjoying the sunshine. I couldn’t believe it. I walked along the beach, keeping a respectful distance of about 20m and got a great view of them at rest and at play in the surf. For anyone that’s not David Attenborough or hasn’t been to Horsey before, seals are smelly.  

Grey seals up close at Horsey
A very long line of basking seals, maybe 400?
About 15 minutes further on there was a car park and signs pointing the way to the Horsey seal colony; how lucky I decided to walk on the beach when I did!

There were more seals further on up the beach, this time common seals, which are shorter, fatter, cuter looking and lift their tails up whenever a wave comes as if they don’t want to get wet.  

Common seals enjoying the sunshine
After that experience I was on a high so decided to try my luck again adder-spotting; they must be actively avoiding me. I had a quick stop in Sea Palling for a cup of tea and a sandwich and then it was the last section to Happisburgh. I was lucky enough to see a pair of Little Terns to round off a good day. Since I arrived in Suffolk several beaches have had sections roped off because Little Terns nest there, but I am a bit too early so I was fortunate to see a pair flying low over the shoreline. 

Approaching Happisburgh the cliff erosion becomes very apparent and this village is famous for shrinking since the 1990s as houses have fallen off the cliff. The beach section here is closed because of the danger. I didn’t need to walk it however as I was staying in a quirky pub and treated myself to Cromer crab and chips for dinner. What a fantastic day.  

Approaching Happisburgh – cliff erosion visible

5 thoughts on “Day 18 New Boots and Horsey Seals in Norfolk

  1. jstumm April 23, 2015 / 8:49 pm

    I am a bit torn on the job front, watching the sea and drinking tea sounds great, shame its a volunteer post 😔. What great pictures of seals, I’ve never seen a grey one, and the one you swam with in cornwall wasn’t smelly, but probably because it was in the water. It looks like the boots are helping, the km walked was higher today, so well done you. My kids finished their rucksacks, and some were even very sensible. One pair tried to invent a motorised trolly to carry everything, which would work on GPS, reminded me a bit of the Luggage in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld! We’re avidly following you on the map though, so keep letting us know whats going on! Hope tomorrow goes as well,


    • Lucy April 24, 2015 / 6:15 am

      Thanks Jodie. The adult seals were as big as the one I swam with. What was dad thinking! Any other info you want for the kids?


  2. jomunday99 April 23, 2015 / 9:48 pm

    Happisburgh for a happy Lucy (with p’s pronounced!) Glad to read such an upbeat blog. I almost feel jealous (only almost!) glad the new shoes are working out. I’ll be trying my new runners in the morning.


  3. Chris Frazer April 24, 2015 / 11:04 am

    Juice…great post….I don’t know whether your influences are Bill Oddy or David Attenborough or Neil Oliver……..your observations on the birds, wildlife and the coast itself would bring s smile to each of them…….keep going……try the lobster it’s even better than the crab……on on Marshal of the air ( Retd)……..


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