From November through to early February extraordinarily high number of visitors come to a relatively remote part of the Norfolk coast, to a place called Horsey. The number increases year on year. The beach is ‘closed’ and wardens position themselves in the dunes daily. It’s an invasion, a huge gathering of people and seals – it’s incredible.
Sunday January 2017
Sat on the edge of the highest dune, we are eating our lunch. Dunes behind us, beach and sea in front. A couple approach from the dune side (behind us) with their dog.
Me : Excuse me, there’s a seal in the dune, just down there
Man : (dog not on lead) : Oh, she won’t go near them
Me (thinking) oh sure (eyebrows raised)
Dog : Sniffing our sandwich boxes, flasks, bags
Woman calls dog away
Man : Bloody seals, they’re ruining the fishing around here
Me (and Tim in unison) : oh really
Man : Yes. You’re not into fishing then? All along this coast, it’s dreadful. Devastating.
After putting the dog on the lead they made their way down to take a look at the ‘bloody seals’. We watched them from our vantage point then carried on with our lunch. Some people really get on my nerves.
Grey Seals have been coming onto the beach at Horsey in the winter months to have their pups for years. Their numbers have grown just recently and they have become a tourist attraction. Horsey is ‘the place’ but they can spread themselves down as far south as Winterton and north as Sea Palling and who can blame them – the beaches are wonderful here.
Today we were at Winterton, a small ancient fishing village 15 minute drive from home. Many years ago Tim and I took a walk from this village – our very first walk together, just the two of us, so it has a special place in our hearts.
These days we regularly walk a 5 mile circuit from here. Its close, convenient and at this time of the year it’s a mud free zone. The beach here isn’t patrolled or closed here by ‘seal wardens’ so there’s every chance of getting a bit closer to them.
We set off just before lunch – an unusually late start for us. As you can see Beach Road was looking a bit busy with parking on the verge, inside the double yellow lines, it gets really messy. I didn’t like the way the Discovery was parked (below) but loved the old red triumph in front of it. You can just see the tall 14th century church tower back in the village behind this scene.
I turned around and took another photo. More cars, some taking a chance and parking over the double yellows.
Theres a good sized car park at the top of the road – it’s just not free (at any time of the year!).
Once on the sand we turned left and marched north towards Horsey. The wind was off shore, the skies had a light cloud and there was a faint smell of sea weed in the air. A pinky red seaweed comes ashore here – looks quite pretty. The photo below isn’t of the weed but of a small pile of bricks. It’s a sign of how fragile this coast line is – houses simply disappear.
This was our first pup sighting. Almost ready to fend for itself by now – the white fur being replaced by grey.
Tim took this one (below). I have to let him keep his hand in every now & then. Ok, it’s a good shot, it might even be better than mine!
Last but not least. This pup was just below the one in the dune. Right up against the sea wall (just below the over-the-top warning signs). It was asleep this one, dreaming with its flippers twitching. I imagine it was about all those fish it would be eating – the fish that it needs to stay alive.
We left the dunes and the seals and headed off to complete our walk, which I won’t describe as ‘it’s all about the seals’.