Tag Archives: Walking

The Jurrasic Coast (Part 3) – Walking the South West Coastal Path

This is the third post which details the 40 miles we walked (following the South West Coastal Path) 16th to 22nd March 2017.

Seaton to Lyme Regis (A walk like no other)

Easter Sunday and the buses were running a ‘Sunday’ service.  For that we were thankful.

We drove to Lyme Regis and parked in a huge car park on the outskirts of town.  This long stay car park cost £2.00 for the day – it’s the cheapest all day car park ticket we have paid for in years!  I must remember to write and congratulate whoever made that decision….

The bus stop was right at the car park entrance/exit.  Tim made friends with a tree.  He was looked suspiciously relaxed as we waited.  Perhaps he was preparing himself for something I hadn’t quite considered?

The bus came along then dropped us off at the start of our walk at the sea side town of Seaton.  This was our first sight of Seaton. Though I have talked about Seaton in my previous post this was infact our first visit of the week – as I mentioned in Part 1 these posts are describing the walking routes from the furthest west to the furthest east, not the order we did them in!

Initially crossing a bridge away from the town, over the River Axe, we took a steep tarmac lane to Axe Cliff Golf Club and then the course beyond that.  Passing through a golf course can be an exciting thing especially if you can hear voices of players but can’t actually see them!

Along a sheltered lane we came to a junction with a cautionary note.

‘Please note that it takes approximately 3 1/2 to 4 hours walk to Lyme Regis’. Fair enough I thought.

‘The terrain can be difficult and arduous.  There is no permissive access to the sea or inland along this stretch of the path’.

Er, OK.  ‘So, that’s for people who aren’t used to walking’  I said to Tim.  He nodded solemnly.

Needless to say we continued along our way, skirting fields at the top of the cliff.  The bright yellow crop of Oil Seed Rape (rapeseed) seems to be covering great swathes the countryside these days.

Then we turned left and started to descend, at first to an area called Goat Island.  Landslips have and continue to affect this bit of coast and Goat Island used to be attached to the cliff top. I couldn’t see why it’s called island though….or infact Goat.  Maybe some poor goat fell to its death in the landslip?!

Orchids – these are called Pyramid Orchids I think.  We got all excited seeing one on its own and then, just round the corner, there were several….

Shortly after this the path dropped again into the trees.  I had no idea that the open view, looking back at the open landscape now, would be the last I would have for the next 3 hours.  Look how innocent I am.  This is Axmouth Undercliff (Nature Reserve).

So, we were now in a densely covered enclosed area – one way in and one way out.

We enjoyed it too (at first) with the narrow path twisting up and turning down then twisting and turning some more.  ‘Thought it was supposed to be cloudy’ I said then  ‘Where are we?’ (meaning – ‘how far had we gone?’).  ‘Lunch at the next bench’ Tim said.

After almost 2 hours we found a solitary bench and stopped for lunch.  The sun shone (through the gaps in the trees) and it was warm but we had found a breeze.  At this point three people passed us – looking as pleased to see us as we were to see them.  We were not alone.

For the entire time we were ‘in the trees’ there was no view. There were a few magical moments when the dense woodland opened up a bit and there were wild flowers growing on either side of the path.  That was lovely and kept us going.

Then we got a glimpse of white cliff.  Wow.  This whole area – these miles of trees and plants exist here because of landslides.  It has formed a sanctuary and some, often rare, species have thrived.

Walkers coming from Lyme Regis began to pass us.  Some simply carrying a bottle of water and sauntering along.  Hope they knew what they were doing.  Felt like saying ‘you’ve got three hours of walking, you do realise that do you?’

On and on we went, trying to guess how much further we had before Lyme Regis.  There were no info boards or finger posts with mileage indicators but thankfully the ground was bone dry.  This was a little bit unusual apparently as it can be quite a muddy walk (according to a lady we met on our morning bus journey).  We were lucky.

Finally, finally the path opened up. Big grins on our faces.  Somewhere back there we had crossed the border into Dorset and we were pretty pleased.

To really get a sense of freedom we took a steep stepped path down to the sea and joined the masses on the harbour wall at Lyme Regis.  We gulped down the rest of our squash and breathed in that salty air.

Seatown to Lyme Regis

For this walk (the last one of the week) we walked east to west.

The dry clear weather meant that we should do Gold Cap.  Gold Cap is a sea cliff/hill and the highest point of the whole South West Coastal Path at 627 feet (191 metres). It’s distinctive golden top can be seen from miles away.

Once again we took a bus out to the start of our walk. Unfortunately (for us) we had a ‘walk in’ meaning the bus stop wasn’t quite where we needed it to stop and had to walk down to the coastal path from a main road.  Along the way we chatted to some thatchers busy replacing a roof of a pretty cottage.  Nice guys doing a decent trade.

So, up we went to Gold Cap from Seatown.  To be honest we found it a doddle – easy peasy.  All our mountain walking paid off.  We strolled over the top and admired the views, albeit a little bit misty this morning.

Down we went following the path through lovely countryside facing views along the coastline to everything we had covered over the previous few days.

With the sun now shining and with a carefree pace we thought it wouldn’t be long before we would decend to Charmouth Beach for lunch. Then we came across another unexpected diversion sign.  Surely not.

Obeying the sign we diverted – quite a long way as it turned out.

By the time we eventually reached Charmouth we were feeling a bit miffed as we had missed the coastal stroll we had been enjoying.  Tim posed at a sign we wouldn’t have seen if we hadn’t been diverted.

At the beach we had our lunch right next to the busy Cafe and Fossil Museum.  People were waiting for the tide to turn before setting off on fossil hunting expeditions.  We didn’t need to wait for a tide – we had a couple more miles to complete.

We walked out of Charmouth, up the road leading into the village, through a small wood, across a golf course (quickly!) and into the outskirts of Lyme Regis.  We then turned into the most incredible bluebell wood we had ever seen.  Tim, with camera in hand, set about trying to capture the scene. I strolled about thinking this was a very fine end to the week.

Then I spotted a home made tree swing and decided to give it a try – I am such a big kid.

So, we really ended our week on a high, as we strolled down to the town.  Great views, fine paths, interesting journeys, dry weather.  We bought an ice cream and quietly sat an admired the view.  Who could ask for more?

Postscript

I have written three posts forming a trilogy to describe our journey on foot along the South West Coastal Path from East Devon into Dorset.  On our day off we went back to Lyme Regis to photograph the harbour.  We thoroughly enjoyed exploring this historic place.

 

Then, we went in search for fossils on Charmouth Beach.  I felt sure we would be tripping over them but, unfortunately, after several hours of head down and scouring the beach, we came away empty handed.

I was so disappointed (and the above sign didn’t help one bit) that Tim took me into The Old Forge Fossil Shop in Lyme Regis and bought me a small Ammonite.  In my eyes fossils should be considered as treasures and although mine is ‘shop bought’ it is very precious.  I love it.

Questions for fellow bloggers :

Have you found a fossil?  What and where?  Be great to hear about your finds.

 

 

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.

 

 

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)

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.

 

Right around Cornwall on foot (almost)

Two weeks ago we sat at Padstow Harbour in the warm late September sun enjoying Bubblegum flavoured ice cream and patting ourselves on the back for a job well done.  Our mission accomplished. 100 miles in 10 days.

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We’ve had 7 weeks walking the South West Coastal Path over the last two years and, from our calculations, have covered 244 miles.  We’re delighted – firstly with our achievement (does that big headed?) and secondly to have seen so much of the incredible coast down on the South West tip of our country.  We’ve been lucky with the weather.  This means our walks have been slowed due to the photography and filming and stopping for a coffee (with a view) along the way.  That’s our excuse anyway!

“What bits were best”?  – a question we just can’t answer.  All of it, most of it.

Apart from the spectacular scenery there’s the wildlife, animals and birds along the way : the grazing cattle, ponies and sheep, the hovering kestrels and lots of unknown sea birds, seals, porpoise, and a pod of dolphins.  The slow worm, barrel jelly fish, song birds, swallows, sand martins, beetles.  Butterflies fluttering out of hedgerows like dust.  We’ve tried to photograph them all.

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The plants and trees.  Huge tropical specimens, pretty flowers, bluebells and brambles. Miles and miles of brambles all covered in sweet blackberries taking us back to our childhood and supplying us with extra healthy snacks along the way.

Then of course, there’s the small villages tucked away amongst the rocky headlands and larger towns spread out along river estuaries – some still with working harbours.  The fishing boats, ferries and sail craft.  The bunting stretched across the streets.

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Other things that come to mind.  The different coloured sand and the incredible rock, the smell of seaweed – sometimes strong sometimes surprisingly nice.  The many buses we used to allow us to complete linear walks including the free ride we had when the ticket machine didn’t work and we were the only ones on-board.  The boat trips, the helicopters, the naval boats and the wind.

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Almost always we had a view out across the ocean.

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My advice is take a trip down to Cornwall and explore the coastal path.  We only have a small section of the path in Cornwall to complete so we need to decide and plan our next trip.  Somerset, Devon or Dorset?  Decisions, decisions.

For the time being I may come back to Cornwall, from time to time, to detail some of our walks.