Tag Archives: National Trust

Hansel and Gretel with Snowdrops in Suffolk

We were in the woods near Westleton and we hadn’t seen another soul since lunch.  Tim was whistling the theme from the classic 1960s film The Great Escape as we marched along and I was really beginning to feel like we had.

Saturday 18th February 2016

My first trip to Dunwich, several years ago now, was at this time of year.  The sight of Snowdrops carpeting the floor of small wood close to Dunwich village has stayed with me.  The first sign of Spring.

So it was that we decided, once again, to take ourselves across the county border from Norfolk into this very impressive part of Suffolk.

I have, at long last, figured out how to produce and add a map showing the route to my posts.  This one has helpful mile markers.  The start/end is the square shaped object.  I’m so smug.

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We parked in Dunwich Forest, very close to a small area called St Helena.  I mentioned this area in a previous post.  Helena/Heleen/Leny is a popular name used on my mothers side in memory of my Dutch Oma ‘Lena’.  It’s my sisters name and that of at least five cousins!  Oh yes, we have a big family on my mothers side!

Even though I’ve worked out how to produce a route map of my own I couldn’t help but take a quick snap of the ‘information board’ someone had kindly put up – right next to the car.  Somehow we still turn into Hansel and Gretel.

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Our Hansel & Gretel moments – let me explain.  We have walked in, through and around this forest more times than I care to remember but we always (always) have a moment (or two) of doubt about our exact position once we set off.  Tim with Ordnance Survey map in hand, trying to decide which path we are on.  Me, thinking there must be a trail of breadcrumbs surely, whilst fumbling about for my reading glasses to help with the map work.  Are we alone with that I wonder?

Anyway, after sorting ourselves out, we confidently headed north through the Forest on a pleasant variety of paths until we reached St Helena where we turn right.  St Helena, it seems to me, to be a single road with a few old but grand large houses.

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This  eventually ends at a t-junction with another track.  We are now on a popular stretch for mountain bikers and walkers travelling between  Walberswick with Dunwich.  Open views of marsh then sea on one side and trees on the other – no wonder it’s a well used route.  Even on a dull day we passed several other couples.

Dingle Hill Tearoom – a must for anyone out this way.  Just before you reach Dunwich (between mile markers 2 and 3 on my map).   I’m  sure it started life as a tiny garden centre and has grown and become more and more popular over the years.  There’s seating inside and out and they do lunches as well as cake and drinks.  We avoided all the tasty treats as there was something else we were looking forward to further along the route.

One tea (enough tea for two) and one hot chocolate £4.60.  The tea pots had rather snazzy cozies.

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Red for tea, Blue has water to top it up

Fully refreshed we walked down the road through Dunwich itself, past the museum and pub and onto the Sandlings Way footpath.  This path hugs the cliff here.  With numerous signs like ‘keep away from the cliff edge’, ‘danger’, ‘danger of death’, it’s obvious how precarious it is.  We stuck to the path and within minutes reached the ruins of Greyfriars Priory.

One day we migcht go over and take a proper look – one day when we’re not walking 10 miles…that’s if it hasn’t been taken by the sea.

My previous post about Dunwich explains all.

Beyond this, and the wall that surrounds it, is Greyfriars Wood.  This is what I really wanted to see today.

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Going into Greyfriars Wood

We stopped here while I ran about taking lots of photos.  Some macro (crawling on hands and knees), some from a normal standing up position!

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Tim patiently waiting for me

Eventually we drifted away from the wood and headed for Dunwich Heath.  I couldn’t find any information about this bridge that we passed on the way but it was very sweet.

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Dunwich Heath is best visited in late summer, early autumn.  The purple and mauve heather is quite beautiful.  Not quite so pretty today.

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Heading to Coastguard Cottages across Dunwich Heath

Sausage rolls – that’s all we could think about and the National Trust shop at the Coastguards cottages sold them.  However, there is a limit to how much they are worth and these particular ones were being sold (cold) at £3.25 which we thought was really cheeky so we gave them a miss.  Instead we had quiche with salad garnish £2.50.  We sat outside, though inside is very nice, and enjoyed our first lunch.

Our own sandwiches and soup picnic was also delicious – thanks Tim (again).  We navigated seamlessly from first to second lunch. Note we used the National Trust picnic table and chairs for free!

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I did overhear a young boy of about seven say ‘that was the nicest sausage roll I’ve ever had’ but kept that to myself.

So, all we had to do now was walk the five miles back to the car.

Back across the Heath we went for about two miles, heading north.  Then left into woods again.  It’s lovely when you get a mix of both – walk this area in the summer months and you’re surrounded by butterflies.  The brightest thing on our route this time was the yellow flowering gorse.

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Now as enjoyable as this walk is once you get to about 8 miles you stop taking photographs and start thinking about your tired feet.  At 9 miles we got a little bit lost again in the forest and I was sure the witch would get us.  Then finally at 10 miles we were home and dry. Hurrah there’s the car!

I love it when you fall into the car at the end of a walk.  Even better when you stop at the supermarket for essential evening meal supplies on the way home you can’t help but stagger across the car park with wobbly legs.

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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.

 

 

Felbrigg Hall in Autumn

Saturday 19th November 2016

Felbrigg Hall is my favourite.  Of all the large country houses and estates that we’ve walked around over the years its the one that makes me smile.  Not sure why exactly.  It just does.

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I wanted to try and photograph the Autumn colours before it was too late and the forecast looked good so off Tim and I set with our soup filled flasks, cheese and chutney sandwiches and camera batteries charged.  We had no hesitation about dragging our thermals out from the back of the cupboard as we were going ‘out on location’ after a really hard frost during the night.

Felbrigg is a small village in North Norfolk about three miles south of Cromer – the Felbrigg Estate is to the west of the village and covers about 520 acres.  Part of the Hall date back to the 17th century and is owned by the National Trust.

There are many trails and walks around the grounds and is suitable for all the family.  We parked near the entrance of the park and headed straight into the Great Wood which hugs the northside of the hall.  Full of ancient Oaks, Beech and Chestnut it’s absolutely wonderful.  Here are just a few photos.

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We saw only one person in the first hour of venturing through the wood.  “Where is everybody?”  As usual, in these sorts of places, people don’t normally appear until about lunchtime so we could enjoy our photography and felt that we had the place to ourselves.

It’s worth looking down to the ground as well as up.  I often lay down to photograph the fungi.  Tim doesn’t understand my love of mushrooms but likes the results.

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By the time we came round to the Hall it was time for lunch.  The Hall itself was closed for the season but the cafe and toilets were open – Hurrah!

On a nice day it’s certainly worth venturing south towards the lake and around to the church.  It was beautiful today so we couldn’t resist doing just that.

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By the time we were back to the car other cars full of families and dogs were pilling into the estate.  This was 2:30pm.  Why do people leave it so late?  Oh well, we were on our way home, back before dark and in time for a nice cup of tea!

Felbrigg Hall and grounds – absolutely beautiful.

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Twixt Pine and Sea

Sheringham, on the North Norfolk coast, grew with the fishing industry.  The arrival of the railway meant the fish could easily be transported to the London markets. It’s now a traditional seaside town with only a handful of small fishing boats. Sheringham Park a couple of miles from the town was designed in 1812. It has a wonderful landscaped garden with park land and is famous for its rhododendrons and azaleas – you could spend all day there.

Pick a sunny day in early May to visit the garden and you won’t be disappointed. Do not go at the end of April ( as we have just done) if you’ve not been before. Not that it isn’t a beautiful place to go anyway – it’s just that if you haven’t seen the garden in full bloom then you’d miss out. My guess for this year is the third week in May!

Saturday 30th April 2016

There’s lots of parking at Sheringham Park itself but this time we parked the car just up the road in a smaller car park at Pretty Corner. Pretty Corner – sits next to a lovely wood with several trails and a tea shop (as yet unsampled by us).

We set off towards Upper Sheringham which is small village where all the properties seem to be styled with flint. Swallows were flying low over the fields. We’ve walked this way before and usually it’s so quiet you wonder whether anyone actually lives here at all. The silence was broken this time by a group guys on mountain bikes who passed us.

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Upper Sheringham

Into the park we went through some iron gates and turned left. The coffee at the cafe was calling us. The courtyard cafe is a great little spot to linger. There’s a small gift shop and visitors centre – it’s hard to resist a browse and it’s even harder to resist buying cake with your coffee! My writing about cafes and food seems to be growing trend in my posts.

 

Having made the most of the facilities we set off along the main path. In about two weeks time this place will be packed with people taking photos – for now it was fairly quiet. We did find one or two shrubs in flower so we weren’t too disappointed.

 

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There are a couple of small wooden towers (get a map at the centre to help find them) which give views over the top of the plants. It’s worth having a look for them. The main path leads out, away from the trees and shrubs, and you get a glimpse of the sea and Weybourne Mill in the distance.

We made for the sea, leaving the park by crossing the busy coast road and following the footpath that takes you over a railway bridge. This is where the North Norfolk steam trains run (the Poppy Line). It’s like being taken way, way back in time if you coincide your bridge crossing with a train. The golden age of steam….

Just a short stroll away are the sandy cliffs. Here the skylarks were singing high in the sky. Ahhh, the sound of summer. We turned right and headed towards the tiny coast watch building on the top of the highest cliff. It was a race to bag our favourite bench for our lunch stop. There were several people milling about at the top but we beat any challengers to ‘our spot’. Sea, the woods, steam trains, blue sky and even a bit of golf to watch – perfect.

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Time for lunch

The cliff top path takes you on to the seaside town of Sheringham. Suddenly there are lots of people eating lots fish & chips and ice cream. I prefer the artwork that has been added to the sea walls – showing the old fishing days. Does that sound bad?

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Sea Wall painting at Sheringham

Through and out of the town we marched alongside the main road – the A148. I am always amazed by the amount of people travelling along in cars in the middle of the day when it’s sunny. Maybe this time it had something to do with the Thomas the Tank Engine railway day at Sheringham station. I thought how my nephews and nieces would enjoy that.

Turning off the main road we passed Beeston Hall boarding school, heading inland. We reached Beeston Regis Heath and climbed up through the trees to the high point at Stone Hill. Not a great height but not bad for Norfolk.

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Stone Hill

From here it’s down, across a road and into the woods – Sheringham Woods. There are numerous paths – be prepared to get lost! My tip would be to follow dog walkers – almost guaranteed to take you safely out and back to the car park at Pretty Corner.

These open and hilly areas in Norfolk around Beeston Regis Heath, the Roman Camp (highest point in Norfolk) and Sheringham Park and Wood are all owned by the National Trust and for that we should be thankful.

Sheringham town motto – Twixt pine and sea (between pine trees and the sea).