I thought it would be a good idea to have a visual representation of my progress to date in walking the coast of Great Britain. This is basically just a Google map of Great Britain with a red line indicating my progress, its rather crude, but does the job.
Just a few pieces of information:-
For scaling reasons I cannot show the “Use of Ferries” sections in Devon/Cornwall/Dorset which I am currently walking when weather further north is not so good.
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
It had been just over a month since my last coastal walk, a delay due to a stinking head cold that had lasted for 3 weeks. So I was glad that the arrival of high pressure over most of England gave me the opportunity to continue my walk down the east coast.
My last trip to Norfolk, back in November 2018 , saw me cut short my walk from Hunstanton to Kings Lynn at Dersingham due to not feeling so good. On this trip I had planned for an overnight stay, which meant I could get a full days walking in the following day.
I set off fairly early from Shropshire to avoid the early morning traffic on the M6 through the West Midlands. I drove to and parked in Kings Lynn. I then caught a #34 bus to Dersingham, which run on a frequent basis. After getting off at Dersingham I popped into the local co-op to get a coffee and sausage butty. I continued south along Lynn Road, but soon turned off on a footpath which disappeared into the trees. I had then set off across Dersingham Common which soon merged into the Sandringham Country Park. The park was crisscrossed with multiple paths set amongst a forested area of deciduous and Old Scots Pines plantations. I lost exactly where I was on my map, but knew my general direction as I was only a hundred meters away from the very busy A149.
It was a beautiful sunny morning and very mild, and it felt more like Spring was here! As I had been quite close to the A149, I knew I had to venture inland slightly to pick up my intended route. At a clearing in the forest I climbed up a steep bank and emerged onto the Sandringham Scenic Drive. The Drive was closed to vehicles, but not to foot traffic. I continued along footpaths and estate roads, which ultimately took me back to the A149. Thankfully, as I noted from reading my map, a footpath/cycle path ran close alongside the main road. I continued alongside the main road to the next road junction. This crossroads was thrust into the spotlight in early January 2019 when the Duke of Edinburgh was involved in a road traffic accident here. Although, all the debris had been collected (some of it sold on Ebay!) I still managed to collect some shattered pieces of ‘Phil the Greeks’ Land Rover’s windscreen from the grass verge. They will go well with my Queen’s Silver Jubilee plate on my mantlepiece!!
After a short distance the footpath branched off away from the A149 continuing down a private estate road towards Castle Rising. Along this road I met an elderly lady with a Jack Russell companion who were setting mole-traps in a field, soon to be used by sheep. She was very knowledgable and we shared our stories on dealing with the elusive moles.
I came into Castle Rising, which is a very interesting historical village. I passed the Trinity Hospital, or to give it its full title – The Hospital of the Holy and Undivided Trinity. In fact these were Almshouses or a Bede House. Built in the early 17th century, they provided accommodation and care for 12 elderly ladies, who satisfied the strict criteria for admission. The house’s are still used today, but over the years have been modernised and the number of residents reduced to 6. On certain festive occasions the residents wear red cloaks as well as hats similar to those worn by Welsh ladies on St Davids Day. I walked towards the large impressive earthworks that hid Castle Rising itself. The castle was surrounded by a huge dry moat, with a single large keep sunken below the giant earthworks. I did not linger at the site but retraced my steps and continued along country lanes towards North and South Wooton.
I eventually reached the busy A1078 which would have taken me directly into Kings Lynn, but instead I took a series of cycle ways and footpaths towards North Lynn and into the town centre. After arriving back at the car and changing my clothes I set off for Cromer and my B&B for the night.
Distance today = 12 miles
Total distance = 4,547 miles
Well this trip turned out to be a disaster in more ways than one! I had awoke about 04:00 and had planned to drive to Kings Lynn and catch the bus to Hunstanton and then walk back to Kings Lynn. Unfortunately I wasn’t feeling very well, my stomach felt upset and I was also feeling quite tired. I should have just gone back to bed there and then. Instead I drove on, knowing that I was not feeling 100%, hoping that I could just “walk it off”.
I caught the 07:23 bus to Hunstanton, which dropped me off at the bus station. At that time of a Sunday morning the town was almost deserted. I made by way down to the promenade and headed south, still not feeling that good. It was a very grey overcast morning, but with reasonable visibility and I could may out part of the shoreline down to the head of The Wash. I walked past the small town of Heacham and continued onto Shepherds Port. I passed a dead seal on the beach before Shepherds Port, but I did not investigate, as it had turned black afer being exposed to the sun.
The section south of Shepard’s Port I knew from previous reports was difficult. Previous walkers had faced confrontation from beach hut owners and some ‘officials[?]’. I had planned a route which I thought would be able to get me inland to bypass this area of no public access. I had read a sign back in Shepherds Port with a map indicating public rights way in the immediate area. The map was probably the worst map I had ever seen, upside down and with a multi-coloured sections cross-hatched (God help you if you were colour-blind) denoting variety of restrictions. I did see a sign for Dersingham, which I was planning to head for. However, on getting the end of the first lagoon, signs disappeared and there appeared to be an additional lake not on my map. I headed for the sea bank, but was confronted with signs telling me that this was not a public Right of way. I spoke to a local who advised that getting to Decoy Wood (where I knew a public footpath was) would not be easy and would involve some trespassing. I pondered what to do, I could see a lagoon disappearing to the south with no visible means to cross over. It gradually dawned on me that I would have to get to the road that ran to Shepherds Port from A149. This new route would involve quite an additional mileage to my journey, plus I would need to walk along the A149. Most of the land around Shepherds Port is owned by the King Lynn Angling Association who look to be constructing more lakes for fishing close by.
I reached the A149 and donned my hi-vis vest. There was a reasonable verge to walk along, as the constant procession of cars in either direction passed me at break-neck speed. After an additional two hours I arrived at the point on the A149 where I would have emerged from, if my original route was available to me. I’d had enough of the A149 by this point and headed into Dersingham, passing the long closed Dersingham railway station. As I walked through the small housing estate; fatigue, not feeling so good and the effects of the large detour began to have their toll and I doubted I would be able to complete the walk. I found a seat by a bus stop close to the co-op and decided to call it a day. Fortunately, there is a regular bus service, even on a sunday and I had only had a 10 minute wait until the next bus.
These things happen and although disappointed I live to fight another day!
Distance today = 12 miles
Total distance = 4,419 mile
I checked out the forecast and could see that the East coast of England would be in for a couple of days of sunny dry weather, so I opted to do a day’s trip to Lincolnshire.
This section would see the back of Lincolnshire and entry into Norfolk. No problems with public transport were envisaged, so I drove to and parked in Kings Lynn. I used one of the council car parks at a charge of £2.70 for the day. I don’t mind paying for parking, as long as the charges are not excessive. I walked along the small quay in Kings Lynn which is a charming and very interesting small market town. I headed to the bus station and caught the #505 bus service to Sutton Bridge.
I got off the bus close to the swing bridge. The morning traffic had started to get busy, however, I immediately turned up a minor road and walked alongside The River Nene, the road was quiet with only the occasional vehicle. Todays walk would be mainly on Sea dykes and minor roads. I walked along what is known as the Peter Scott Way, a trail from Sutton Bridge around to the Ferry to King Lynn, although part of the walk was also known as The Nene Way. Sir Peter Scott had a strong connection with the area and bought the East Lynn lighthouse in 1933, which I soon passed. At the time The East and West lighthouses marked the entrance to the sea, however, subsequent reclamation from the sea has since pushed the sea wall much further out into The Wash.
It was a lovely morning with bright sunshine and a gentle breeze. The grass on top of the Sea Dyke was cropped very short, but heavy with dew. I passed a couple of dog walkers and later on some ‘twitchers’ with large lenses. I passed within 500m of the Inner Trial Bank and could still make out the Outer Trial Bank out to the west. The Norfolk Coast was becoming much clearer now and somewhere around this point I crossed over into Norfolk. The walk was very peaceful, with the occasional sound of a Curlew and the hum of tractors working the huge fields.
The path began to bear around to the south-east and a couple of wind turbines just north of Kings Lynn come into view. I was now walking along The River Great Ouse, one of England’s longest rivers with its source back in Northamptonshire. After passing a large sewage works, with some real ‘heavy’ odours I joined a long straight Hawthorn edge that accompanied the path until I arrived at West Lynn, just across the river from Kings Lynn. The small port and quay of Kings Lynn, presented some of it most attractive features and buildings from the opposite side of the river. I carried on heading for one of two bridges that cross the Great Ouse about a half-mile from Kings Lynn. I was surprised to learn that Kings Lynn, prior to 1537 was known as Bishops Lynn.
After crossing the bridge over the Great Ouse I headed along a cycleway back into the town. An attractive feature of Kings Lynn is the absence of tall large buildings. The most notable building include the double-towered Kings Lynn Minster – St Margarets and the quirky Greyfriars Tower, a remnant from a Franciscan Friary with quite a large lean.
Distance today = 17 miles
Total distance = 4,407 miles
This was the second leg of my walk around the head of The Wash. I had opted to do this leg on a Sunday for one reason. When I do these ‘one-day’ walks the drive to the start of the walk is normally done in the early hours and the traffic is very light. However, when I have finished the walk, invariably the drive home is done through ‘rush-hour’ traffic which can be anything from 14:00 – 19:00! Its frustrating and quite stressful at times. So this was to be a Sunday walk and hopefully a bit less traffic on the drive home.
I needed to fill in a 6 or 7 mile public transport gap on this section, which meant the use of my bicycle again. I drove to and parked at the Moulton Marsh car park and then began the cycle ride to Holbeach. I used the quiet back roads which took me to the small market town. The roads were virtually empty on a Sunday morning and the almost flat terrain, lack of wind made for an easy ride, apart from the almost freezing cold morning and I had forgotten to bring my gloves!
I cycled into Holbeach secured my bike in a bike rack at Tesco’s in the town. I then walked a short distance to a bus stop where I caught the #505 bus to Sutton Bridge. I had opted to do the walk in reverse because of bus timings, the bus running eastwards was at least 3o minutes earlier. I got off the bus close to the large swing bridge that spans the River Nene. I decided I would take a closer look at the bridge on my next visit.
I followed a straight road that ran alongside the River Nene, which was at low tide. I walked straight through the small dock that forms Ports Sutton Bridge. Being a sunday there was nobody about. The tarmac road I was on disappeared and I continued along a green lane heading towards two lighthouses, one of which was on the opposite bank of the river. The western Nene lighthouse, which I walked past, was at Guys Head and is now a private dwelling.
Shortly after passing the lighthouse the sea bank veered to the NW following the edge of the outer salt marsh and the outlet into The Wash for the River Nene. I could now see the Outer Trial Bank, an artificial island built in 1976 as a water storage scheme. Unfortunately the Trial determined that the scheme was financially unfeasible. I approached the RAF Holbeach Bombing Range, with its string of control towers and warning notices. The public footpath that runs along the sea Bank at the perimeter of the range is open even during live firing so I was not unduly worried if a red flag was flying. As it turned out there was no activity as I passed by the range, apart from some people returning from a walk out to the targets on the range.
I passed a number of people out with their dogs and got totally ‘slobbered-on’ by two friendly Boxers with drool gushing out of their mouths! When I reached The Fleet pumping station I was very fortunate to see how the process works. I heard an alarm siren sounding, then the pumps starting up and the sound of gushing water. I checked the seaward side and could see a large discharge of water flowing into the outlet channel.
I could now make out St Botolphs Church (The Stump) in the far distance. The Sea Bank gradually swung around to the SW as it approached the River Welland at Fosdyke Wash. The small wood at Moulton Marsh where I had parked my car, came into view. After arriving back at and my car and changing my clothes I set off back to Holbeach to collect my bicycle. The traffic on the way home was busy around Peterborough, but ok.
Distance today = 17.5 miles
Total distance = 4,332 miles
I had planned for a 2 or 3 day trip to Scotland, but the forecast of heavy rain had put me off. So I turned my attention to continuing my journey along the East Coast, more precisely The Wash. The coastal walk from Boston to Kings Lynn is dissected by three rivers The Welland, The Nene and The Great Ouse, all requiring lengthy inland incursions to reach the nearest bridging point. To this end and given the availability of public transport in the area, i opted to split the section into 3 separate days of walking.
The first leg of walking would be between Boston and Moulton Marsh, located a few miles down the River Welland after passing Fosdyke Bridge. Because my next leg would require the use of a bicycle, I needed to include a small bike ride on this leg. So I drove to the Moulton Marsh Nature Reserve car park and left my bike chained to a post. I then drove around to the small village of Fosdyke and parked at the Village Hall. I then waited for the #7B bus which I had booked the day before to take me into Boston.
As we drove into Boston we picked up 3 more people from the scattered and isolated hamlets in the area. The bus driver mentioned something about a footpath diversion, close to the docks. I got dropped off at the Bus Station and made my way back towards The Haven. I could see a number of signs on the large flood prevention scheme which intended to save 15,000 houses in Boston from Tidal flooding. The footpath diversion was well signed and hardly an inconvenience. After a short while I was able to gain the Sea Bank and continue walking along the banks of The Haven. The grass, initially, was overgrown and seemed to receive little foot traffic. I could easily make out my previous walk, completed a week before, on the opposite bank of The Haven.
Other footpaths joined this riverside path and by the time I had drawn level with the Pilgrim Father’s Memorial on the opposite bank, the long grass had disappeared and the going became much easier. I passed onto and through Wyberton Marsh and had the option to do an out and back to the mouth of The Haven. As I already visited the mouth, albeit on the opposite bank I continued SW over Frampton Marsh. I passed a few ‘twitchers’ with huge zoom lens’ and the occasional dog walker. I was walking into a rather stiff breeze, but this did not bother me. I gradually approached the River Welland, which was difficult to see untill I was almost upon it.
I could see the small jetty on the opposite bank where I had stood in the morning. Even though the jetty was only 100m away, it would take me almost an hour to get around to this point. I could begin to make out the traffic on the main A17 in the distance, about 1.6 miles away. I could also make out the steeple of the nearby village of Fosdyke, where I had parked my car. The roar of the traffic on the A17 got louder as I neared Fosdyke Bridge. There is not much at the bridge other than a small marina, a few houses and the Old Ship Inn. I crossed over the River Welland on a cycle/footpath and headed back up alongside the River Welland on the opposite bank. With the sun out and a stiff breeze at my back I soon arrived at Moulton Marsh car park where I had parked my bike. The ride back to the village of Fosdyke was only 3 miles, but even though the terrain is very flat, the headwind, hampered my progress.
The next leg of this walk, would be longer, but I had shaved a couple of miles of it by doing an extra bit today and also set myself up for avoiding any cycling along the busy A17.
Distance today = 14 miles
Total distance = 4,314.5 miles