The week started off so amazingly with some wonderful walking along the N Norfolk coast in brilliant sunshine. however, once I hit The Wash the weather turned, the people vanished and the walking became a bit dull. I haven’t had the best introduction to the Lincolnshire coast so I’m hoping for better next week.
I did enjoy my diversion to the Sandringham Estate for the day, which was significantly more interesting than my walk around Boston, even though I didn’t meet the Queen.
A short week as I decided to go home for the Bank Holiday weekend. Hopefully more adventures in store next week.
Nice to have a couple of days off at home. Time for a little gardening as well as washing, planning, reviewing my progress and plenty of (too much!) eating and drinking. It also meant 2 days in flip flops letting my feet relax.
Train home for the weekend
A fine morning for ambling around Boston as, let’s face it, I need the exercise! The lack of bus services in the local area, combined with my decision to take a break and go home for the weekend, led to my decision to take a look at Boston this morning.
I headed out early, which was my first mistake as nothing opens in Boston until 10 am at the earliest. I did get a good view of the Boston Stump in the morning sunlight.
I had wanted to get out of my strange accommodation that felt like somewhere prisoners would be sent on release from jail. There were lots of signs telling you what you could and couldn’t do (e.g. clean the bathroom after you’ve used it, no visitors without asking permission) and CCTV cameras about the place. Still, Margaret was very nice to me and we had a good chat about all her ailments over a cup of tea before I left.
Boston was gearing up for the annual fair that starts today. I had a notion that I’d visit the memorial to the Pilgrim Fathers’ first attempted voyage to the New World in 1607. I knew the memorial was in the village of Fishtoft so, upon seeing a brown sign pointing the way, 2 miles to the memorial, I set off along the banks of the River Haven. This was my 2nd mistake. After 3 miles of walking along the river and then through fields and bungalow-land I came to another brown sign indicating a further 1.5 miles to go. I gave up at this point, deciding that the memorial wasn’t interesting enough for a 9 mile round trip! I walked back to Boston town centre (ignoring the signpost that pointed the wrong direction to Boston) and consoled myself with coffee and cake in a lovely little cafe. After some refreshment I felt ready to tackle the 209 steps up to the top of the Boston Stump, the St Botolph church tower. The view from the top was worth the climb and I could see the mouth of The Haven in the distance.
I had already made up my mind to take the Bank Holiday weekend off and go home for a rest. Chance to reevaluate my planning and let my feet heal properly (they no longer hurt but the bruising hasn’t recovered yet). So it was the afternoon train for me and I’ll be back on the road on Monday.
Sutton Bridge to Fosdyke Bridge (then Wyberton into Boston)
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.
As I got further around towards the Fosdyke Wash I could see the famous Boston Stump in the distance.
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!
Kings Lynn to Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire
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.
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.
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).
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.
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!).
After a wet and windy walk I was ready for a hot shower and a cup of tea.
Heacham to Kings Lynn
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.
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.
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.
It was only when I reached safety that I realised it was the Queen’s estate I had been trespassing on.
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.
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. 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.
Burnham Deepdale to Heacham
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
From South Hunstanton I walked the last 2 miles along the promenade to Heacham watching the clouds roll in slowly from the West.