Tag Archives: Beach

A really really lazy day at the beach

This time last week we were in the midst of a heat wave.  With temperatures set to reach 26 degrees in Norfolk we selected Walcott as our destination for the day.

Sunday 18th June 2017

It was definitely going to be a beach day. So, with Beach umbrella, chairs and picnic packed we headed for the sand and, for us, a lazy day.

Walcott, a tiny village on the Norfolk Coast, is not a snazzy seaside place, infact it’s really quiet and not at all exciting. It is, however the only village in Norfolk where the road runs right alongside the beach making it popular for motorbikers and cyclists or anyone just touring through.

It’s suffered a bit in storms. 1953, 2007 and 2013.  Infact we went to take a look at the damage in 2013 and it was incredible – large blocks of concrete moved several feet from the sea defences and homes were badly affected.

This is what the sea wall looks like at Walcott – with a concrete walkway all the way to Bacton.  The photo below was taken at high tide and only a thin strip of beach is visible – looking towards Bacton.

On the way to Walcott was passed the more popular beach destinations of Sea Palling and Happisburgh (pronounced Hazborough).  Here the good people of Norfolk were arriving in huge numbers from surrounding villages, towns and the city of Norwich.

We had chosen wisely.  Parking easily we walked a short distance and pitched our umbrella.  If you’ve never seen these they are wonderful things these – called a Sport Brella and comes in several colours.  So easy to put up and take down it takes away all the stress that you might have with other portable shelters.

There we sat….for a few hours.

A grey seal swam past as I was having a paddle. Tim took a few photos – me & seal, both checking each other out.

Then we pitched our umbrella closer to the sea for a bit more ‘air’ and sat a bit longer…it was glorious.

After a while we could take this no longer and set off for a short walk to Bacton Beach.  The tide was going out and leaving sea water stranded in long shallow pools.  I remember this happening as a child on holiday on the Dutch coast and the pools feeling like warm bath water.

You can see kids playing in the water up ahead of us on our walk in the photo below.

At Bacton we bought a couple of drinks at this tiny place ‘The Tea Shed’ and headed back.

A nice cup of tea to finish off before going home – we joined several people at the cafe/restaurant.  As I mentioned above its a popular stopping place for motorcyclists here and they arrive in big groups at the cafe.  Today it was just us and lots of large families (large in number and size!) eating fish and chips.  I did manage to capture one keen biker….

We don’t often sit about all day but today was certainly the day to do just that.  Phew what a scorcher!

Our heatwave is over now – it was fun while it lasted.

 

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Goodbye little pups, Hello big seals

Half way through this walk….

It’s a ‘haul out’ and it’s another seal spectacle!  Wow, look at that.

Two minutes earlier I photographed the image you can see below, written on the chalk board :  ‘Large Adult haul outs at Viewing Platform’ and then ‘Total births to date 1423’.

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Sunday 22nd January 2017 and Sunday 29th January 2017!

Two walks – the same route – two weekends running!  Are we loosing our quest for adventure?  Never.

Here we go – this is a 7 mile route which skirts the edge of Martham Broad at the start, passes Horsey Windpump, takes on a bit of beach in the middle and ends up on quiet tracks.  Wrap up warm, take your binoculars and camera and see what happens along the way….

With sunny skies on both visits I have used a combo of photos taken on both days. They may look like they were taken on the same day but the waterways were completely frozen over on the 22nd but back to normal on the 29th.

We parked on the Horsey Road at West Somerton Staithe – there’s room for three cars on the side of the road here.

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The frozen water  at the end of the Staithe – right next to the road

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Step away from the parked car and the route is clear

More and more information boards seem to be popping up alongside nature reserves these days which is great. Good work whoever sorts that out. It also saves me drawing most of the route for this post!  We are following route 1 (orange line on map) going away from the car and then taking route 2 back (green line on map).  It doesn’t quite show how we linked them which is a little bit irritating!

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These days I’m the one taking all the photographs.  It’s a surprise when, five minutes into the walk, Tim says “I’ll just take one of you here”.  Awwh, just like the old days I turn and try to pose nicely (and not fall off the slippery wooden bridge).  Ok, moving on…..

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The path from here is grassy and broad and the sound of distant geese fills the air.  If you’re lucky you can spot something a little bit more unusual as we did on the colder of the two days.  A pair of Bearded Tit flittered alongside us in the reed.  What to do, use binoculars or try and photograph? Quite honestly the resulting photos didn’t do them justice so I’ve left them out of this post.  It was lovely to just stand and stare for a bit.

All along this section we are on a stop/start/stare slow motion – on both visits the binoculars were put to good use.  I can’t list out all the ‘spotted’ birds – when it comes to twitching we have a long way to go.

After about two miles we are back on the Horsey Road and taking on possibly the worst bit of the walk.  Why so bad you may think. Well, there is no pavement and very little verge.  So we played a game of dare (and chicken) with the passing cars.  Make it to the mill and you’ll live to see another day.

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On the road to the mill

As you can see (from the photos above and below) the National Trust are busy working on the mill at the moment.  The scaffolding has been up for a while but, from the information boards in the car park and at the tea shop, it looks like it will be back to its very old (1912) self sometime later this year.

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Ice creams, teas, coffees, gifts – not open!

Shame about the closed tea shop.  It’s a favourite stopping point when we’re out on our bikes in the spring or summer or when we’ve hired day boats with  friends and family.  We make do with a boiled sweet this time.

The car park is quite big here so might be worth starting the walk from this point if the three spaces back down the road are taken.

I should mention that the Nelson Head pub is a two minute walk from here – and there’s always the option of doing a quick down to the beach and back for a pint and/or spot of lunch.  It’s been a long time since we visited even though we pass it regularly.  I think the last time was when we got soaked having cycled through some of the deepest, widest puddles ever – we staggered in and gently steamed in front of a roaring open fire with a couple of pints.

From the mill cross the road and follow footpath signs across fields.  It can get sticky underfoot here – be warned.  Very soon you’ll be back onto a solid track.  The dunes might seem like a distant line on the horizon but keep going it should only take about 20 minutes.

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The track to the beach

Finally the dune and the beach.  Surely all those pups have fledged or whatever pups do when they are old enough!  There are no signs of any wardens and people are on the beach. The beach is ‘closed’ just here during the pupping season and The Friends of Horsey Seals do a grand job – busy from November through to…well, now I suppose.

My previous post mentions the seals :-

https://itslovelyout.wordpress.com/2017/01/13/its-all-about-the-seals-on-the-norfolk-coast/

We followed the landward side track until we reached the steps to the ‘viewing  platform’ – as mentioned on the board (first photo of this post ).  Up the steps and over the dune until we were met with the unusual sight – lots of adult seals all ‘hauled up’ onto the beach in big groups just along the shoreline and just behind them masses of humans all standing around looking at them.

This is a normal situation for these seals, as I understand it they all come out to moult.   Pupping and breeding time over its a chance to lay about and chill and with all the visitors taking photos they might even feel like celebrities?!

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As close as I dare

I took the photo below to show just how many people were on the beach – with Tim posing in front.  Look behind the rocks!  The rocks are a fairly new addition to the beach and part of a sea defence project which I think, by the way they huddle around them, the seals seem to appreciate.

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Tim, rocks, seals and crowds

These were taken just a little way down where a smaller group of seals were trying to get away from the madding crowd.

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A different angle

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A sign of a healthy seal

We sat and ate our lunch a bit further down.  One thing about being up close and personal with seals is that you find out how smelly they are.  It’s a bit like going to the zoo…minus the cages/enclosures…actually it’s nothing like a zoo.

Completely on now our own now, all except for this small plane which buzzed overhead – the Red Barron I called it.  Apparently it’s a Tiger Moth and I jumped up to photograph it as it came over.  I’m quite pleased with this shot.

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The Red Baron approaches overhead!

The walk back from here now follows the green line on the map above.

It’s time to cross through the dune via one of the ‘gaps’.  We used the Bramble Hill Gap which had some boarding to scramble over but there’s another, within a stones throw, called the Winterton Ness Gap which is an easy stroll.  Either will lead to a junction of paths and here, at another information board, right next to the huge concrete world war tank traps you need to take the path heading inland.  Initially through a gateway then onto a recently resurfaced broad stoney track. It’s a wide footpath, wide enough for vehicle access.  On reaching a small animal enclosure the footpath sign points around a hedgerow then onto a concrete track.

It’s here that we’ve taken nephews and nieces to scooter as we can safely ‘let them go’ so to speak while we’ve trotted behind.  Occasionally shouting “TRACTOR” and “GET ON THE SIDE” warnings.  This is part of the Burnley Hall Estate and we are surrounded by marsh grazing land, small waterways and a bit of woodland.

Keep following footpath signs – turning right at a T-junction of paths then between houses to cross a small field to reach houses on the Horsey Road.

Before you know it, and just around the corner, there’s the Staithe and the parked car.  Oh, I did take one last photo….

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The car and Staithe at West Somerton

Blue sky days in winter can be as enjoyable as blue sky days at any other time of the year.

 

 

It’s all about the seals on the Norfolk coast

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.

Silence.

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.

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The seal pup in the dune

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.

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Winter walkers out on a normally empty beach

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.

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Parking on Beach Road, Winterton (1)

I turned around and took another photo.  More cars, some taking a chance and parking over the double yellows.

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Parking on Beach Road, Winterton (2)

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.

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Bricks on beach – heading north

This was our first pup sighting.  Almost ready to fend for itself by now – the white fur being replaced by grey.

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First pup

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!

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Oh hello

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.

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Do not disturb – Zzzzzzzzzzzz

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’.

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Winterton – from the highest dune (our lunch stop)

Our local Little Terns

Twitching just sneaked up on us – fairly recently, perhaps over the last 5 years or so.  It’s the sort of thing that people don’t admit to or are embarrassed about but now that we are safely into middle age we just don’t care.

So, every now and again we grab our bins (binoculars) and head out in search for something to spot.  Sometimes to a wildlife reserve, other times when we are just walking in the countryside.  Not always to watch birds but other animals too and these may be totally unexpected or we go out on a mission !

Wednesday evening, out on a ‘mission’ to Winterton Beach we found our local Little Tern colony.  These tiny sea birds fly in from Africa every year and simply nest on the sand, amongst stones.  They are precious because their numbers have been declining rapidly so much so that they are often watched (day & night) by wardens in an effort to protect them while nesting.

The following photos include our approach to the beach with the information board, the fenced off nesting area.  Unfortunately no photos of the birds up close but it was a lovely evening.

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