Tag Archives: Norfolk

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.

 

 

Norfolk Broads : St Benets (from the other side!)

From the ‘other side’ sounds a bit spooky, otherworldly, like a supernatural visit.  In a way it was for this was truly unusual.  A walking trip I planned which is a rare thing indeed, as it is Tim who is the planner, not me.

I’m also not very good at adding maps to my blog.  Must try harder next year.  Meantime, this is a photo taken at the start of the walk of a poster (what a cheat).  Follow the white dots (outer) to follow our walk – or check out the short cuts for an easier one.

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Monday 26 December 2016 – Boxing Day

In the UK and in Commonwealth countries this is the day after Christmas Day.  The day when you start to work your way through all the left over food from the previous day.  A time for bubble & squeak (Brussels Sprouts and Potato mashed and fried), cold meats and pickles.

Its a day when the shops open with reduced prices – commonly known as ‘The Sales’.  People rush to see what bargains they have to offer.  Though these days the sales are so regular I can’t see what all the fuss is about.

In our part of the world it was a traditional fox hunting day.  Nowadays the ‘hunt’ follow scented trails.  Thank goodness for that – foxes suffer enough with less habitats and greater chances of being killed on roads.

Historically though it’s a day when tradesmen or servants would have hoped for’boxed’ gifts from clients or employers.  Google is my friend and helped me out once again with this fact.

For many, it’s a day to get out there and have a walk.  And so it was, not surprisingly, for us.  And what about ‘the other side’?  Well my route, a completely new one to us, was on the opposite side of the river from St Benets (as detailed in my previous post) – the other side, see what I did there?

Here we go then – this is a brief synopsis of this 8 mile walk.

Parking at Upton. See map – it’s on the bottom right.  Free parking with at least 30 spaces next to the boatyard.  Walk up the dyke on the left hand side towards the river Bure.

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Turn left and follow as far as you can, alongside the river.  The reed looked golden in the sunlight.

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Plenty of old mills along the way  – some working, some stopped.  The two below, with sails, are at Thurne.

Pick a nice day – there is no shelter from the elements!  We had a stiff breeze into our faces but it certainly wasn’t cold.

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Eventually, after about four miles, we reach the site of St Benets.  The remains of the abbey (that I didn’t photograph last time) and the gatehouse with mill from ‘the other side’.

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Now heading away from the river we reach the edge of South Walsham Broad.  A quiet bit of water at this time of the year.

Then we turned and headed towards Upton Fen after briefly stopping for our picnic lunch at Pilson Green.  Roast tomato soup and cheese with cranberry sauce sandwiches.

What a wonderful surprise this wooded area was at Upton Fen.  It seems to be well maintained by Norfolk Wildlife Trust, the section below has a board walk over boggy areas.  Shortly after I took this shot a large branch fell just glancing Tims shoulder.  We picked up the pace a bit after that!

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The information boards at parking areas here show several routes around the fen.  We will definitely be back to explore it – it’s a hidden gem.

Out of the wood we took country lanes past farms and then, before we knew it, we were back at the car.

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A perfect walk – one of the best we have done in Norfolk and so close to home.

This is my last blog post of the year.  Here’s to next year and more of the same.

Happy New Year.

 

 

Norfolk Broads : How Hill and St Benets Abbey

Somewhere out in the middle of the Norfolk countryside.

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Tim : Where is everybody?   Me : Still in bed?   Tim: What?   Me : (shouting) Christmas shopping?  Tim : Mad   Me : Yep

Sometimes our conversations are gripping……..

Sunday 10th December 2016

This December morning we are up and out (sleep?) walking by 9:15.

Camera batteries don’t charge themselves (oops I forgot) but I desperately wanted to record our walk for this blog so Tim said I could borrow his SLR.  This heavy lump of a camera has been slightly neglected in favour of my new compact but today it was out for another airing albeit in my backpack which, according to Tim, would be good weight training for future treks/walks….hmmm.

In the heart of the Norfolk Broads are two places that are photographed by professional and hobby photographs alike throughout the year. How Hill and St Benets Abbey.  From the village of Ludham, which is about 10 miles east of Norwich, our route of about 8 1/2 miles would allow us to get to both.

We headed north out of the village, on pavements at first, then crossed fields on footpaths and a quiet lane to reach How Hill.  How Hill comprises a large thatched house with garden and grounds that look down onto the Ant valley – the River Ant and surrounding reserve.  School children stay here on educational trips learning about the Norfolk Broads, it’s history, wildlife and conservation.  It’s a wonderful place – it makes you breathe.

Walk just past the house and this is the view.

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A track leads down to the river.  Here is a small thatched house, now a small museum.  Inside gives an impression of how marsh men would have lived in Victorian times.  I try to photograph this every visit and I’m never quite happy that I’ve captured the feel of the place.  Still, here it is. Toad Hole Cottage.  The name makes me think of Wind in the Willows ….though of course that would be Toad Hall which this certainly isn’t.

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There are a couple of wooden framed mills on the river bank to the right of a boathouse and I wanted to photograph them so off we set.  As you can see the sun was out (can’t complain) but it was in totally the wrong place!  Hey, never mind, I quite liked the silhouette and Tim (who is my photography guru) said it was the best shot of the day so I had to show it off.

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We retraced our steps then continued along the footpath by the river passing the mill that must be photographed hundreds of times every year by boaters or walkers.  The photo I took is copied in black and white at the top – I wonder which is best, I can’t decide….

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For two miles we continued along this twisting grassy path, towards Ludham Bridge, the low sun in the sky in our faces.

The road bridge crosses the river here, we turn left then up the road a bit taking the first right turn at the Dog Inn.  About five minutes along this very quiet road we turned right onto a lane that soon turns into a farm track.  It’s wide enough for two cars to pass and goes ever so slightly downhill. We were heading back out onto the marsh.

This was new walking territory and sometimes a mile seems like a long way.  At the very end the track was really rough, just before a small car park. Here, at last, right next to the river Bure, are the first glimpses of St Benets.

Thankfully the one and only bench here was free so we could enjoy a bit of comfort for lunch – but not before I ran about taking a few photos while the sun shone.

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The main ruin that you see here is the old gatehouse which later had a mill built inside it (18th century).  There is also a small section of the wall that used to circle the whole site – on the far left. This is the gatehouse for what was the grounds surrounding St Benets Abbey and is the only structure left on the whole site.

There’s a small section of ruin – part of the actual abbey – protected by a wooden stake fence.  I didn’t like the look of the fence so didn’t bother photographing it.  I’m such an ancient monument snob!

A tiny bit of history

On the site was one of the wealthiest Benedictine buildings in the country.  There were several properties and a church as well as an abbey here.  Apparently King Henry VIII  didn’t include the monastery in the dissolution – instead the Bishop of Norwich took on all the properties.  However, this didn’t stop it being plundered and the buildings all disappeared (about 1545).  Phew – google helped me out here – sorry for any historical errors!

I was completely shocked by the amount of graffiti.  Shocked but interested.

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Couldn’t resist another artistic shot – below.

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We retraced our steps back up the farm track then took a footpath to the edge of the village.

By 3pm the sun was sinking and clouds starting to roll in.  We reached the car and stood for a moment against the wall surrounding the church.  Cars with their passengers were travelling along heading home from their shopping trips…..

This walk can be and almost always in shortened by us – missing St Benets.  It’s a peaceful walk and, if you dress warmly, is really enjoyable in the winter.

 

Norfolk Broads : Stubb Mill, Hickling

Beyond Hickling Nature Reserve – Sunday 20th June 2016

Walk down a grassy track for about 3/4 of a mile from the Hickling Nature Reserve and you’ll find yourself standing next to an ancient mill tower, surrounded by marsh at the rather ominously named Raptor Roost.

The Oxford Dictionary (online) definition of Raptor : 1.  A bird of prey eg eagle 2. Informal, Dinosaur.

My goodness how fantastic it would be to spot a Dinosaur coming across the marsh and settling down for the night. This is, in reality, a place (viewing platform) for seeing some quite spectacular birds such as Cranes, Marsh Harrier, Owls and even Bitterns.  Keen twitchers troop down with all manner of binoculars and scopes with tripods and quietly huddle together as the light fades during the winter months.

Thinking about dinosaurs for just a minute I remember going to see the film Jurasic Park when it first came out at the cinema with my sister. Afterwards the two of us (in a very girly way) ran slightly hysterically, because we thought we had heard ‘something’, back through a dimly lit car park to the safety of my car.  How our imaginations got the better of us that evening!

Going to the Raptor Roost to watch the local wildlife is also an evening outing, best in winter, where thermals are an absolute must as it is freezing standing about waiting for the sun to go down and something to happen. Been there, done it, will probably do it again.

This, however, was a midsummer stroll.

Right next to the roost is Stubbs Mill. Built of Norfolk red brick in 1795 this tower drainage mill is now Grade II Listed.

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The mill door was open and we peaked inside.  Immediately we came face to face with large dusty and slightly rusty cogs and wheels, the old workings of this building.  By the window there were a couple of large information boards which included old photos of the mill workers and family that lived there.

As it happened today was ‘open day’ to the general public.  This is a one day a month during the summer event.  What a stroke of luck!

Drawn to the small staircase we were told that it would be ok for us to venture up the old wooden steps.  “Go all the way up to the top if you want”.  Off we went up the stairway which curved with the wall to the first floor.

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Tim standing at the first floor landing (photo below).

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Apparently this mill is only one of a handful in the Broadland area with evidence of living accommodation.  We saw two fireplaces.  The families, who only lived on two floors, would have needed them.  But imagine how noisy it would have been living so close to all that machinery.

Talking of which, the lady who we met on the ground floor (and offering some very interesting historical information) was married to a gentleman whose family had actually lived here.  Four generations of Nudd family lived in the mill then later in an outbuilding looking after the waterways and land…..going back 200 years. I found that amazing.

This was our view from the window on the 1st floor.

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This is Tim disappearing through the hatch onto the 2nd floor.

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This is where you can start to see the restoration work that has recently taken place.

A project by the Broads Authority included the renewing and refitting of the top cap and other internal work.  This project took on the training of five millwrights – such a vital trade to ensure these heritage sites and structures are maintained.

Here is the 2nd floor with stairway up to the top cap and Tim photographed at the top of the stairway looking back down.

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The restoration has meant that if the money was available sails could be fitted.  I think that would be so worthwhile not only for us but for generations to come.

Camera, cloud and claggy paths

Out on a long walk with a new camera today.

It’s a shame that I didn’t have this camera on Thursday.  The temperature dropped way below freezing and both Ormesby and Rollesby Broad froze over.  It was quite a sight as I drove (as slowly as I could) on the road between the two – on the way to work. The bare trees and dry yellow reed all lit up in early morning sunshine how  I wished I could just turn the car around, drive home, collect Tims SLR, and return to capture the scene digitally.

So, out on location today, and with Tims assistance, I put it though its first test – under a grey sky. Our walk started at the small village of West Somerton which is in an area of The Broads that has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to it being a haven for wildlife.

Here is my first shot taken right next to our parked car.

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As we did last week our walk would take us to Potter Heigham – this time from the East.

We generally see Marsh Harrier gliding through the sky especially in this area and today they didn’t disappoint us.  Large birds of prey that are doing really well now.  The footpaths we followed were mostly muddy and in places the river had burst its banks and spread out onto the path.  We passed one couple squelching along – the young lady in white pumps.  They were enjoying themselves which was great – we chatted to them for a bit as we went along.

Another lovely welcome at the tea shop at Potter Heigham.  Visit them if you’re out this way – its our favourite at the moment.

Click here to check out Potter Heigham Tea Shop website

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Tim (on a diet) sat with his back to the delicious cakes!

We retraced our steps back towards Matham Ferry floating swing bridge then turned up Cess Lane then crossed left across ploughed (muddy) fields up to Thunder Hill Farm where we found a bench with a view.  We enjoyed our lunch – Lentil Dahl soup (new for us) and sandwiches (as normal !).

A quick walk along the north side of Matham village then dropped back down to the fields and eastwards back to West Somerton.  The sun was trying to break through as we headed home for a “jolly nice cup of tea”.

I’d love to add maps to these walks it haven’t worked out how that’s done.  Will do so as soon as I do.

For camera enthusiasts – I now have a Canon G9X.