No walks in March so far, so I needed to get out again even if it meant doing a short two-dayer to Norfolk. The weather was looking good, so after sorting out my accommodation out, I was ready to go.
I made an early start from Shropshire to get a full days walking in and to beat the early morning commuter traffic. A large part of my journey is now along the A14 and unfortunately there is about a 10 mile set of road works around Cambridge which will mean future delays into 2020…. oh joy!
I still had a slight issue with public transport for the start of the walk, but I used my bicycle to get around this. I drove to and parked in the small market town of Stalham. I then used my bicycle to cycle the four miles along empty roads to the start of my walk at Sea Palling. The last time I was at Sea Palling it was very frosty and foggy and today could not have been more different with the sun still rising and excellent visibility.
I could see that the tide was well in as I set off down the coast. Fortunately, the first half mile was along the steps of the sea wall. At the end of the sea wall and with some beach now available, I tried walking along the beach, but the sand was too soft and hard going. I reverted to the footpath through the dunes which also gave me good views inland as well as out to sea.
Near Horsey Gap I noticed a single seal watching me about 40m away in the water. I took a few photos and continued on. However, when I got over the next dune I could not believe my eyes! I spotted hundreds of grey seals lying on the beach taking in the early morning sun. They were all different colours, shapes and sizes. It was an absolutely amazing sight. I soon came across another larger colony numbering about 500. I thought that was it, but I came across multiple colonies over the next two miles. There were probably about 1500 to 2000 seals stretched out over the beach. I had never seen so many seals before in a single place! I kept my distance, staying on the footpath through the dunes, not wishing to disturb them. I did ‘spook’ a couple of groups who made for the water, but most just kept a careful eye on me. I think I had the privilege of witnessing this, because no one else was around. I did not linger and by the time I reached the Nature Reserve at Winterton Dunes there were no more seals.
I transferred down onto the beach and spent the next 6 miles walking along the shoreline, having found a ‘sweet-spot’ just by the water’s edge that was firm, level and dry. I passed-by the coastal settlements of Winterton, Hemsby, Scratby, California and Caister-on-Sea without seeing any of them, which often happens when you stay on the beach. After the lifeboat station at Caister I started walking along the top of the sea defences and into the northern area of Great Yarmouth. The sea wall gave way to tarmac and I continued along the promenade. I last visited the town in 1978 for a job interview and had once flown out by helicopter to a drilling rig offshore from Great Yarmouth.
I continued down the promenade, passing a couple of piers and the usual seaside paraphernalia. I soon left that behind and walked into the more industrialised part of the town, given over to offshore oil and gas work. Set right in amidst this industrial area was Nelson’s Monument – a high column with Britannia perched on the top and built between 1817 – 19 to commemorate Norfolk’s favourite son. I continued down to South Denes and came to a manned security barrier which prohibited me from walking around the tip of the peninsula. I turned down a side road which brought me out on a road now leading north and following the River Yare. It was difficult to get close to the river as heavy security fencing blocked off access to the river and the numerous berths. I then caught sight of something you don’t often now see, a Gasometer – basically a gas storage tank that rises and falls with the amount gas pumped into it. What made this Gasometer so special was the intricate metal finials on the support framework, very impressive. I headed along a road towards the Haven bridge which crossed over the River Yare and here I ended my walk today.
However, this was not the end of my day as I still had to catch a #6 bus back to Stalham and pick my car up and then drive the short distance to Sea Palling to pick up my bicycle. It was then a case of driving into Great Yarmouth and checking into my hotel for the night.
Distance today = 21 miles
Total distance = 4,635 miles