Although the view from my B&B bedroom was on the sea front, the noise of traffic through the single pane of glass was a nuisance. Fortunately, it subsided as the evening wore on. The reason that I had skipped on to Cromer was that I had completed the Norfolk Coastal Path almost 12 years ago in 2007, initially starting out from Cromer Pier.
To get to Sea Palling from Cromer would involve some changes in public transport. However, I could see a way of breaking up this journey as well as making a very early start. This would involve driving and parking in the small market town of North Walsham, some 9 miles from Cromer. Parking at the rail station car park and then walking the short distance into the town and catching the 06:30 #34 bus to Sea Palling, walking to Cromer then catching a train back to North Walsham, and the plan worked very well.
At this time of the year the sun had not yet risen when I arrived at Sea Palling, a small coastal village. There was an awful lot of fog around and my visibility was only about 100m for the first hour of my walk. There had also been a ground frost overnight.
I set off from Sea Palling walking along the sea defence steps. I had to be careful with a thin layer of ice before my feet. I could see little of the offshore sea defences, the so-called Rock Reefs, in fact by the time the fog had cleared they were far behind me and out of sight. I stayed close to the dune line, as the ground there was still frozen and offered quick passage over the sand. Although I passed by Eccles on Sea I saw nothing of it and continued onto Happisburgh. The predominant feature of this stretch of coastline is the rapid erosion of the cliffline. Examining the cliff line it is easy to see why, especially when glacial Till, clay, gravels and sands are their primary constituent. The whole section of the coastline is littered with attempts at holding back the sea. No more so than at Happisburgh, which has seen the coastline retreating over a quarter of a mile since the 1600’s.
Walking along the beach after Happisburgh became more difficult and tiring, especially over soft sand and shingle. I looked for a way to get up onto the cliff tops some 20m above me. Most the cliff was to steep to scramble up, but I noticed a small rake (a sort of ramp) that allowed relatively easy and safe access to the cliff top. My boots had become very muddy during this ascent, but the footpath on the top (which was the extended Norfolk Coastal Path) provided easy walking.
Walking along the beach, while it can provide a quicker more direct route in walking the coast can also have a number of disadvantages 1) Tougher underfoot conditions on sand and shingle 2) Having to cross ponds/pools/streams/rivers entering the sea 3) Restricted views 4) Difficult to navigate in not knowing where you are 5) Danger of getting caught out with the tides and lastly 6) And well it can be boring, especially for an extended period with the cliff on your left and sea on right and no real views.
I entered the small settlement of Ostend and chatted to a chap with his dog, he thought that walking to Cromer was a very long way. I continued on through the merged settlements of Walcott, Keswick and Bacton. In the distance the large gas terminal caught the eye. By the time I reached its perimeter I had descended back down onto the beach, where I stayed until I came to the next village of Mundesley. Here I climbed back up the cliff and continued along cliff top paths heading towards a large radar dome in the distance.
The Remote Radar Head Trimingham is a radar station for the RAF and built on the site of a former Army radar station from the Second World War. Back in 2006, motorist passing the station suddenly had their engines cut out or lights fail. The reason was the radar being out of alignment…..scary stuff. I passed through Trimingham and continued along the cliff top. This section of the coastline had a much higher cliff line being located within the area known as The Cromer Ridge, where much thicker glacial debris had been deposited. The cliffs here where up to 40m high with numerous and recent cliff falls in evidence.
I passed through my last village, Overstrand, and dropped back down onto the beach again. I could now see the pier at Cromer. I checked my watch and the train times. I had 45 minutes to get to the station in Cromer, which I managed easily, even though the shingle did not help. At Cromer I climbed the step steps above the pier and wound my way through the streets towards the railway station to get the 12:58 train back to North Walsham.
Distance today = 17 miles
Total distance = 4,564 miles