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Norfolk Coast Path, day 1 (Cromer-Holkham)

Norfolk Coast Path, day 1 (Cromer-Holkham)


Postby poppiesrara » Tue Aug 16, 2011 11:47 pm

Date walked: 13/08/2011

Time taken: 9

Distance: 43 km

Ascent: 440m

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This is really as far away from ‘Highlands’ as it gets, I’m afraid (especially having just read a report from Mont Blanc!) – there’s more ascent in two or three miles on most mountains than in the whole 47 miles of the Norfolk Coast Path. But this coastline holds the nostalgic pull of seemingly hundreds of childhood holidays, and the walk – beautiful in places, testing in others – is quite a challenge tackled in a weekend.

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Starting from the eastern end, having caught the Coasthopper bus from Hunstanton (just £3.70 - taking a leisurely two hours over what would take sixteen to walk back…), Cromer is best left quickly. A typical ‘seaside town they forgot to close down’…, not improved by an industrial sprawl over the first few hundred yards of the Path. The route to Sheringham is inland, down lanes and then good paths through pleasant deciduous woodland, crossing without fanfare the (singularly nondescript) county highpoint of Beacon Hill.
1 Avenue path near Congham Hill.jpg
Avenue path near Congham Hill

2 Beeston Heath over the railway.jpg
Beeston Heath over the railway

From there, most of the rest of the Path hugs the coastline, or at least as near as a traversable path can go. Here it crosses its nearest thing to a ‘peak’ - Beeston Bump, a steep short climb through the wild flowers up to a trigpoint in a terrific clifftop setting, with long views: probably about as good as a 63m hill gets!
3 Runton beach.jpg
Runton beach

4 View over Sheringham from Beeston Bump.jpg
View over Sheringham from Beeston Bump

5 Sheringham beach.jpg
Sheringham beach

6 Looking back to Beeston Bump.jpg
Looking back to Beeston Bump

The section from here to Weybourne Hope, undulating over the sandstone cliffs, is the best part of the Path both underfoot and to the eye.
7 Cliff path from Skelding Hill.jpg
Cliff path from Skelding Hill

8 Beach by Robin Friend.jpg
Beach by Robin Friend

9 Sheringham cliff path.jpg
Sheringham cliff path

10 Sheringham cliff path.jpg

11 Beach near Weybourne.jpg
Beach near Weybourne

For the following four miles though, you never leave the beach – nice sights and smells of the sea, but ankle-deep in heavy, shifting shingle throughout, making for relentlessly tough going. It’s quite a relief to pick up a decent path along the floodbank through the mudflats to Cley and then onto Blakeney, two pretty and obviously well-heeled villages.
12 View east from Weybourne Hope.jpg
View east from Weybourne Hope

13 Salthouse over marshes.jpg
Salthouse over marshes

14 Cley-next-the-Sea.jpg
Cley-next-the-Sea

15 Wreck near Blakeney.jpg
Wreck near Blakeney

16 Blakeney harbour.jpg
Blakeney harbour

From there to Wells, the walking is unvarying and (other than for ‘twitchers’) perhaps a little dull – long, long miles following flat paths just inland of the edge of the broad salt-marshes that distance you from the sea. You could at least eat for weeks (or perhaps raise an illegitimate fortune!) by harvesting the mass of samphire and blackberries that grow beside the path...
17 Freshes Creek, Blakeney Point in distance.jpg
Freshes Creek, Blakeney Point in distance

18 Typical view of Stiffkey Salt Marshes.jpg
Typical view of Stiffkey salt marshes

Wells itself, like Sheringham earlier, for me is just about what a seaside town should be – striking a balance nicely between the genteel and the trashy. And although the walk out to sea along the bank and then through the woodlands towards Holkham has been half-spoilt by an ever-growing holiday park, it’s still rather lovely at twilight.
19 Boats in Wells harbour.jpg
Boats in Wells harbour

20 Wells.jpg
Wells

21 Wells Pool approaching nightfall.jpg
Wells Pool approaching nightfall
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poppiesrara
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Location: Leicestershire

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