London Loop – Section 1 – Erith to Bexley

London Loop - Thames mud warning
London Loop – Thames mud warning

I wanted to keep up the Saturday walking and decided that the London Loop would give me a chance to see some parts of London I have never seen, as it goes around the capital and within the M25, and I usually go to the centre.

Quoting Wikipedia : “The London Outer Orbital Path — more usually the “London LOOP” — is a 240-kilometre (150 mi) signed walk along public footpaths, and through parks, woods and fields around the edge of Outer London, England, described as “the M25 for walkers”. The walk begins at Erith on the south bank of the River Thames and passes clockwise through Crayford, Petts Wood, Coulsdon, Banstead, Ewell, Kingston upon Thames, Uxbridge, Elstree, Cockfosters, Chingford, Chigwell, Grange Hill and Upminster Bridge before ending at Purfleet, almost directly across the Thames from its starting point. Between these settlements the route passes through green buffers and some of the highest points in Greater London.”

London Loop - River view with boat
London Loop – River view with boat

I was up early as it would take just short of 2 hours to get to Write the start of the Loop. I comfortably made the 08:11 to Euston, and managed to get a free parking space. One of the good things about the walk is that it is accessible from stations within zones 1-6 which means a London Travelcard will cover it, so the cost would be at most £300 if it takes 15 sections, I would hope to improve on that by covering more than 10 miles on my section breakdown.

I got the Northern line to Bank then got a bit lost finding the right exit for Canon Street station, so had a 20 minute wait for the train to Plumstead. I filled the time playing Pokemon Go and I must say London is a treasure trove of Pokemon. I got on the long and very empty train, and whilst sat in an empty carriage I heard a phone go off. As there was no one on the train I tracked it down answered it, the man on the other end asked where I was, and I agreed to stand outside the carriage so that he could retrieve it for a passenger who had reported it lost. My good deed for the day done and it was only 09:27!

London Loop - Overgrown pathWhilst on the trin I was able to catch Pokemon whan we stoppped at stations, it was a good job I bought my extra capacity battery with me as it is a real drain on batteries. At Plumstead we had to get off the bus and use a replacement bus service which took us to Erith. It was not exactly at the start if the path but it was good enough for me being just a few hundred yards away.

The path keeps to the river Thames for a while and it felt like familiar territory, then followed the river Garent and then the river Cray, it seemed to be a very industrial area with industrial units and a lot of waste recycling. The patch was on a raise embankment and quite isolated I saw two cyclists and one walker in the three miles by rivers.

London Loop - If the bidge is not high enough dig down
London Loop – If the bidge is not high enough dig down

The path follows the river Cray for quite some distance most of it through green areas and some it urban. In Crayford I cam across a parade of shops including no less than three barbers. I decided it was a good place to stop and got my self a portion of chips and a litre of water, then sat in a grassy area and listened to a gospel singing in a nearby building.

There was a lot of wildlife on the route I had already seen lots of gulls but failed to see and waders on the Thames mud, the odd Kestrel and the best of all was a Kingfsiher that was heading my direction only to turn around in mid flight really close by.

I had been checking Pokemon every so often and was getting lots of points, as well as lots of water based characters, not something you get around Aylesbury much. I eventually came across Hall Palace where some kids and dogs were making the most of the hot weather and paddling in the river Cray. Hall Palace it self is an independently run historic house which looking at it’s website looks quite interesting it even has Pokemon looking topiary bushes. EventuallI hit a busy dual carriage way where the signing was not great but I eventually found the path around and under to avoid having to cross the road.

London Loop - Crayford centre
London Loop – Crayford centre

The heat was really getting to me by this point so I decided to do the official first section rather than stretching it further as had been my plan. That will be one of the challenges doing the London Loop because public transport is all around it will be tempting to jump on a bus or train when I have had enough. On the Thames walk I was always walking back to my car and had little options for stopping early. I will however also have the option to carry on further if i’m feeling good.

Eventually I got to Bexley which appeared to be an affluent town, with lots of expensive cars in the traffic. I opted for the bus rather than the train as I wanted to see how good it would be for catching Pokemon. It turns out to be very good, if you get the timing right there is a Pokestop every few hundred yards and characters appear just as often. I knew I had to change buses to get to Euston and in front of the bus I was on was a 108 which went to Euston, I took the chance to jump off the one I was on and get on the 108 but it left before I had a chance to get on it. I waited for the next bus and got off at North Greenwich and decided it was getting late so I got on the Jubilee line and then the Northern line to Euston.

The 15:54 from Euston was air conditioned which was a real relief from the heat I had experienced all day. My experience of the first day (excluding the heat) was good and I do plan to complete the whole circuit despite the time it takes to get to the starting points, and then getting back.

Aylesbury Loop – Waddesdon to Aston Clinton east section

Wild flowers on Aylesbury Ring Walk
Wild flowers on Aylesbury Ring Walk

Having done the Thames Path and enjoyed I decided I wanted to do some more long distance paths, a few suggestions were made including the Ridgeway and the London Loop, however before getting into another big project I thought I would so some local stuff. Also a friend had arranged with me to go to the new motor museum at Gaydon but being bad at organising things he forgot, so it was not until 8:20 that morning that I found out he could not make it.

Aylesbury Ring Walk way marker
Aylesbury Ring Walk way marker

Local stuff was much easier because on this occasion I could get the bus then walk home. So I got the 09:00 to Aylesbury. My head phones has stopped working so o popped into pound land and grabbed a couple of pairs and a Toblerone for the walk. That meant I almost missed the bus to Waddesdon. The bus fare were £3.50 and £3.40 respectively.

The Aylesbury Ring path was very overgrown which made the walking tough because I has to raise my feet further than normal. A couple of miles I came across a field of cows that were very boisterous, and to cap it all there was a bull in the field, I took a detour and walked a couple of hundred yards along the road.

The Five Elms at Weedon Bucks
The Five Elms at Weedon Bucks

Later on a saw a time lapse opportunity so I sat down for 20 minutes while the camera clicked away. I saw two hares chasing each other as they crossed my path not far from Weedon. Further on I passed a cottage and farm yard an alarm went off I was not sure if it was me who set it off.

I came across as second field full of cows which were being very rowdy, I decided to climb over a fence and walk through the farm yard instead. Just outside Weedon the promised showers arrived, but as luck would have it as pub called The Five Elms appeared, perfect timing for a half and a cheese sandwich.A couple of locals were sat at the bar discussing the old hifi systems, and did a bad job of explaining how they worked.

Storm cloud on Aylesbury Ring Walk
Storm cloud on Aylesbury Ring Walk

When the rain had stopped and the sun came out I left the pub, and headed towards Rowsham then stopped for a rest at Hulcott. Last time I had been to Hulcott was to take a panorama of the church but it was being repaired so I think I only got external shots. Further on I passed through one of those solar farms that keep on cropping up everywhere. There was lots of CCTV cameras so I put my best smile on. Eventally I came to Puttenham and I took a slightly shorter route back home as I was in familiar territory.

The whole walk was 14 miles and took about 7 hours, not a good rate but I did stop a few times. My hips were no issue at all and apart from sore feet I could have walked further.

Thames Path – Cricklade to the source

Gravel pit around Cotswold Water Park
Gravel pit around Cotswold Water Park

Although the previous week was a failed attempt to finish the path off, it did set me up for a 13 mile final day with easy transport options. On Friday I phoned The Thames Head pub and asked if it would be OK to park in their car park for the day, a kind lady said it would be fine and thank-you for asking. I got the impression that people park their without asking! The journey there was straight forward I was up early enough to avoid the traffic at the A40/A34 roadworks. I had some Cirencester taxi numbers to hand but decided I would drive through the town. In the market square there were plenty of taxi’s and I made a note of the company name and number. On the way out of town I stopped in a lay by and phoned up Phoenix Cabs and they gave me an estimate of £15-£20 to get from the pub to Cricklade my start for the day, took them up on the offer.

Cotswold Cottage on the Thames Path
Cotswold Cottage on the Thames Path

I parked up at the pub and only had a 5 minute wait for the Taxi. The driver took me cross country and we crossed the Thames path a few times on the way, and passed through the Cotswold water park. By the time we arrived at Cricklade high street the meter said £34.40, but the driver kindly only charged me £25, a bit more than the estimate but I had saved my self quite a bit of messing around. It was not quite 10:00 one of the earliest starts I had had for some time.

I soon found the path again and was delighted to see a bullfinch fly from one bush to another. The weather was looking good although it was a bit humid and there was a risk of showers, but that meant blue skies and clouds perfect for photos. The path from Cricklade soon passes through loads of gravel pits now making up the Cotswold water park, this meant that compared to the previous few legs there were lots of people about. I passed through Elmlea meadow NR where there was lots of bird activity quite a few warblers and reed buntings as well as my surprisingly my first Kingfisher of the walk. The river was more of a brook and at times hard to see not only because the path does not always follows the rivers edge but also because it is quite overgrown. Once past the gravel pits I came to Summerford Keynes where I found a lovely bench for a rest and some lunch, of Bleu D’Affinois sandwiches, which went down a treat.

Field view on the Thames Path
Field view on the Thames Path

The river got narrower and narrower, but then for a few miles it became wide and shallow with a chalk bed, and very clear. I had been slowly catching up with a young couple, but each time I stopped for photo’s they got ahead again. Following them was a mistake because they lead me to a river crossing that would have needed us to take off our boots and roll our trousers up above our knees. Luckily the missed turning was only 50 metres back, and I took the opportunity to skip off ahead while they consulted their map.

Helen’s dad had arranged to meet me to walk the final few miles and have a look at the source. He called me up and said he was at Parker’s Bridge just between Ewem and Kemble, I was only about 30 minutes away. I needed a rest by the time I found him. My left hip had been playing up a little bit earlier in the day but I had walked through it, but even so I took a couple of Paracetamol to take the edge off. I was very happy about the hips situation it means I should be able to up my mileage, ideally I would like to be able to do between 15 and 20 miles in a day. I noticed that the Volvo from passenger tyre was a bit flat and we agreed to check it out when we returned later.

Storm over field on the Thames Path
Storm over field on the Thames Path

We set off for the final stretch of about 3 miles, the river was very over grown but at times it was clear in the woods, and you could see that the river bed was chalk and sometimes there were sections 6 feet deep and you could see the bottom, it was very clear. As we got towards the last A road crossing it looked like the rain showers I had avoided all day were about to dump on me. Sure enough as we got within a mile of the source it started to chuck it down, so the poncho came out for the final stretch.

The source itself is in a field full of cows just at the edge of a woods, and is a pile of stones, disappointingly there was no water trickling out. A couple of yards away are a couple of oak trees and a stone plinth marking the spot. We took a few photo’s then sheltered from the rain just inside the woods, but soon got bored and decided that we would have to brave the weather again. At the edge of the cow field we stopped tracking back the way we had come as there was a more direct route back to The Thames Head pub where I had left the car. We had a pint of summer ale and a packet of crisps then drover a back to Parker’s bridge to drop Helen’s dad off and check the tyre. It was very low on pressure so I used my pump to top it up and left the pump with the Volvo in case it was needed on the journey home.

The source of the river Thames
The source of the river Thames

The drive back took longer than necessary because the A40/A34 interchange was busy, then I made a bad decision to go back via Thame rather than Bicester, so I hit more traffic on the Oxford ring road. I was home by 18:30 after picking up Helen.

I really enjoyed the Thames Path walk, for many reasons. It meant I knew what I was doing each free Saturday and made the most of my leisure time. I have lowered my resting heart rate from 78 down to 62. I have managed to keep up with all the podcasts I follow. Although it would have been nice to share the journey with someone it was also good to have some quality “me” time. I’m now looking for the next walk, the options are the Ridgeway, which will be a real logistical challenge, but a Facebook friend suggested the London Loop, which will be easy to do logistically and will have plenty of photography opportunities.

 

Thames Path – Radcot Bridge to Cricklade

Pillbox on the Thames
Pillbox on the Thames

It was getting more and more time consuming getting to a starting point on the Thames because of the distance from home, I had only 30 miles to do so I took the opportunity to do it all in a weekend. Helen was busy on Friday night and Saturday night so I hooked a room at the Cirencester Travelodge for the Saturday night, the plan was to get 16 miles from Radcot to Circulate done on the Saturday then finish off on the Sunday.

I was not up quite as early as I would have ideally liked and then a false traffic alert on the satnav caused me to reroute, all conspired to get me to Cricklade later than I planned. The parking was free and the wait for the early bus was short, I was soon on my way to Swindon bus station. Interestingly the bus did a tour of the town before heading to Swindon and stopped at the bus stop opposite the one I got on at before heading to its advertised destination, which probably explains why it was early?

Overgrown Thames \"Path\"
Overgrown Thames “Path”

Swindon has some very depressed areas and the bus seemed to pass through most of them, the bus station could also do with a bit of a spruce up. The next bus pulled into the station very soon after the first one terminated, the driver did not have any change so u got a five find note and a £1.40 voucher in return for my tenner. Whilst waiting for the bus to leave I contacted my Faringdon taxi company and arranged a taxi for 10 minutes after the bus arrived, this week they only wanted a tenner, I’m sure it was £20 the week before.

On the bus to Faringdon we passed through Shrivenham and just outside we looped into the entrance of a defence establishment that looked very secure with its razor wire topped fences around the golf course! At Faringdon the taxi was waiting for me so no time was wasted, just before 11 I was on the path walking.

The path was in long grass which had tilted over under the weight of the overnight rain this meant that it was easy to get tripped up my stepping on one end with one foot and trying to swing the other under the grass stems. The grass bring wet also meant damp trouser bottoms. The path was very quiet just the odd fisherman near the bridges, and canoeists and the odd pleasure craft on the river.

The Red Lion Castle Eaton
The Red Lion Castle Eaton

The BBC weather had promised dome sun but it was overcast a looked like threatening rain. It was good walking weather, and I was soon down to my base T-shirt layer. Just outside Lechlade I came across a fox wandering across a field adjacent to the path, which is the second one I had seen on the path. At Lechlade I stopped off for a sandwich and coffee for lunch in a cafe just just off the river.

There was a two mile stretch which was on an A road and one map I had recommended getting a taxi, so who am I to argue. After finishing my sandwiches I walked into town to find one. I also needed to find some paracetamol as my hips were complaining, probably because it had been two weeks since the last walk, I was out of practice.

Friendly cows on the Thames
Friendly cows on the Thames

There was no taxi to be found but a very kind gentleman buying the Telegraph in the Londis, with a posh voice asked if I was going to Buford, which was a nice gesture, so I hit the road and braved the two mikes of A road, which it turned out has a good verge with a sort of path on it. I was glad to get back to the countryside and away from the traffic noise, even if the paracetamol wax having little effect, the pain was bearable I would just gave to break a bit more often, walk a bit slower, and bear it. Mental note to self start walking to work to sort that one out.

The path is away from the Thames for quite a distance until you get to Castle Eaton, I found and a bench for a rest just inside the pretty village, then just the other side the Red Lion pub, where decided I would have some dinner to save messing about when I got back to the car, also resting for a while did my hips a world of good. I sat in the pub garden over looking the Thames which was now only about 20-30 feet wide, how different that is compared to the width at Woolwich ferry.

The scampi and chips were average but beggars can’t be choosers the beer was nice. The final 4 mikes seemed to go on forever, but eve really I hit the edge of Cirencester where I picked up some crisps and a bottle of beer, then grabbed the car and headed for the Travelodge for a week earned rest.

Norfolk 2016 – Home via Duxford

B52 at Duxford museumWe decided that we would stop at Duxford air museum run by the Imperial War Museum, because we has passed it on so many occasions but never taken to opportunity to take a look around. So we got up early enough to be out of the property by 09:00. We dropped by the Adnams shop at Holkham to pick up some Macon wine we had enjoyed during our stay. The shop however did not open until 10 but the man inside beckoned us in, asked for a box thinking it would be 6 bottles but he came back with a 12 bottle box, we said what the heck and bought it anyway. The man said it was one that could be kept for a while as it improved with age but this one was already great to drink, we have to agree with him.

Trident two tail at DuxfordThe traffic was light, and the weather warm and sunny. We passed Lakenheath but there were no planes to be seen taking off or landing. We were soon at Duxford and in the queue for tickets. We chose the £23 year passes as the extra £5 would be recouped if we visited within a year.

We visited the American hangar first which is quite new, it has an excellent collection is if US aircraft, including a B52 Stratofortress a real monster of an aircraft. The only minor niggle for me was that it was not always obvious what each of the aircraft were but given the size of them I guess. Then we visited the two restoration hangars where they classic aircraft are restored, to their former beauty.

American sea planeWe then had lunch, I had a great sandwich and the coffee was good too. Because we had the year pass we decided that we would finish off with a quick look around the Air Space museum then head off home. We took a better route home that we would have done normally heading toward St Albans and a short stretch of the M1 at Hemel, we knew of it but have never managed to actually try to navigate it. It is straight forward and easy to follow once you know it.

Norfolk 2016 – Stiffkey to Blakeney

The quay at Morston North Norfolk
The quay at Morston North Norfolk

Last full day of holiday in Norfolk, so we thought a walk along the marshes would be a good idea. We parked up at Blakeney public free car park on the land side of the A149, it is very handy for the bus stop. We had a 17 minute wait and the bus was late, the bus driver seemed set on making up the as he was speeding along taking the corners faster than necessary especially with a full bus with people standing.

We got off at Camping Hill bus stop and took the footpath opposite which leads to the marsh edge, where we turned East towards Morston. We stopped about halfway and did a bit of leisurely bird watching we were rewarded with a couple of Common Sandpipers. Next stop was Morston where there is a National Trust tea room, we stopped for a coffee and I had a Stilton, leek and walnut bake which looked like a cake, it was very tasty.

Sailing boat from Wells next the Sea harbour
File name:Sailing boat from Wells next the Sea harbour

At Blakeney yet another coffee was consumed then Helen went window shopping while I walked out to the marsh to see if there was anything worth taking pictures of. When we got back to the hut we had a quick tidy round so save time in the morning. We had a reservation at a great little restaurant in town called The Golden Fleece.

Starling at Wells next the Sea
Starling at Wells next the Sea

We wandered down to the quay a little earlier to have a look and to give me a chance to take pictures of starlings with my big lens. Helen got bored quite quickly and decided I should stop before one of the local fishermen using the quay got pissed off with me sneaking around. The food at the Golden Fleece was great I had fish and chips and Helen had a goats cheese burger. I washed mine down with a couple of pints of Adnams Nelson.

Norfolk 2016 – Holkham Hall

Holkham house view
Holkham house view

Holkham Hall itself is not only open on Thursday during the week so we reserved it for a visit. We surfaced about 08:00 and arrived at the entrance before 10:00, the fee was £3 but I asked about the beach car park and the guy told us if we have a £6.50 beach ticket for the day it included parking at the hall, so we turned around and got a beach ticket. We planned to have a wander in the forest looking for Goldcrests and then a walk on the beach later.

The entrance fee was £15 each, which included all the venue’s. The hall itself did not open until 12:00 so we took a look at the field to fork exhibition which is a show case for the Holkham farm business. The only exhibition is interesting and very well done, the guides are very informative, and the video of the seasons on the farm is a visual treat. Next we wandered around the lake to the walled garden. By the lake there were lots of Greylag with young one pair had a brood of 8 fairly large goslings which appeared to be unusual as other pairs averaged about 3.

Marble hallway at Holkham Hall
Marble hallway at Holkham Hall

The walled garden was a work in progress the gardens were a bit sparse, and even more so as they would probably be at their best in about a month’s time, the green houses were being renovated and not open to the paying public. There was evidence of cafes but probably only open in the peak season. Back at the café we stopped for a coffee and there was a mass exodus at 12:00, I guess for the house opening, Helen browsed the gift shop while I updated the blog and drank my coffee.

The house is a real gem, photography is allowed so I made the most of it by taking a few panorama and HDR sets. There are a lot of paintings by well known artists, including Gainsborough. The rooms are better lit than many National Trust houses, all in all I would say it is a very well presented privately owned historic house. After touring the house we headed for the cafe again for a bite to eat, being out of season there was no queue and the weather which had been getting better all week was warm enough to sit outside.

The Library Holkham Hall
The Library Holkham Hall

Down by the lake there was an electric boat that did tours of the lake for £4 a head. It was a very pleasant cruise on the lake the boat hand had only started the job a week before as a rest of being in the right place at the right time. We saw plenty wildlife including what we think was a Sandpiper. We took a look at the back of the house but it is all private. Helen grabbed a cake from the cafe and went down for a wander around the beach, which was very pleasant and we were in the lee of the wind the other side of the forest. It was very pleasant sitting in the sun on a bench. We could see some birds out on the sea but even when we walked to the shore line on the way back we could not figure out what they were they were too far out for our binoculars.

For dinner we had some pesto pasta from the deli we visited the day before in Burnham Market it was almond, pistachio and rocket pesto and was very good it made a really creamy sauce. Whilst watching TV with one eye on the ponds outside the windows we spotted a Common Sandpiper, however the 16 baby mallard seemed to be done to less than 10.

Norfolk 2016 – Red orange white and blue butterflies

North Norfolk sky
North Norfolk marsh view

We were up relatively early and left the hut at 09:30, to park up at Burnham Overy Staithe, the plan was a loop inland taking in Burnham Market or Chelsea by the sea as some call it.

We left BOS via the road not falling for the apparent footpath that seems to join the village but is in fact a dead end. Then we crossed a rape field with views of the windmill, and the marshes. We chose to miss out the big loop to the sea instead took the footpath to Burnham Norton village, a sleepy place with lots of gardeners tending the holiday cottages which seemed to make up the majority of the properties. The path to Burnham Market was up hill which is unusual for Norfolk, we saw hares running a mock in a ploughed field.

Burnham overy staith view of marshes
Burnham overy staith view of marshes

On the out skirts of Burnham Market there are dome very impressive properties. We had lunch at The Hoste, avocado and black olive sandwiches. The till rung up £9 but the menu said £8, they apologised and adjusted the bill, and the sandwiches tasted even better. After lunch we took a gamble on the route and headed for a dismantled railway marked on the map not knowing whether it was a right of way, but it turned out to be OK.

We sat for a while at a track junction and saw Whitethroat, Yellowhammer, and unusually Red Kite which a while ago would have been rare in North Norfolk. Back in BOS we sat on a bench and watched the world go by, as well as a group of four swifts that were buzzing us. We popped into Burnham Market on the way back to the hut, then Burnham Deepdalr for petrol, and finally the Adnams shop at Holkham for a bottle of wine.

Down at the Wells quay Helen went off shopping and I visited the chandlers then did a couple of time lapse sequences of the harbour.

Norfolk 2016 – Another Short-eared Owl

Sea bank at Cley next the Sea
Sea bank at Cley next the Sea

After a late start we decided a walk from Weybourne to Salthouse would be a good way to start the day. We drove to Salthouse then waited for the bus to Weybourne. I had left my phone in the car so walked back to get it, luckily the bus was late, the fare was £1.60 each.

The bus stop in Weybourne s outside the pub but we took the beach road, then turned West at the sea. Before we left the village we popped into the village shop and purchased some goats cheese  baked on bread product for some lunch en route. There was a lot of construction work going on I had a theory that they were laying the cables for a new off shore wind farm. There were boats off shore and big reels of cable. It turns out I was right and it is controversial http://www.edp24.co.uk

Norfolk coast boat and tractor
Norfolk coast boat and tractor

Around Muckleborough we passed the strange weather monitoring station that makes a strange whistling sound. We then dipped and n land a bit to take a look at the Quag where we have seen some rare birds in the past, however there was not a lot to see. Back near the sea we spotted a Short eared Owl flying away from us, which landed out of sight. We thought it may have been the one we saw on Saturday.

We had lunch on one of the grassy mounds where we found a convenient bench. I took the opportunity to grab some time lapse sequences. It was not along before we turned in land to Salthouse where the car had patiently waited. We had some time to spare so we thought a visit to Glanford would be nice, there is a shell museum, a cafe and our favourite binocular shop Cley Spy.

The Shell Museum, Glandford, North Norfolk
The Shell Museum, Glandford, North Norfolk

The shell museum is a gem of a place, started 101 years ago by the owner of Glanford Hall, Sir Alfred Jodrel, as part of a complete restoration of the village. It originally housed, his personal collection but has expanded by many donations one from many locals and people from far and wide including Sir Alec Guiness. As we left the Shell museum the church bells rang three o’clock, followed by a few notes from what we thought was a hymn, then about 30 seconds later there was another hymn, we thought it was very twee.  Next up was coffee and cake at the Art cafe, where we had a devine coffee each and I had a piece of carrot cake. Finally we did a bit of browsing in Cley Spy, the biggest collection of binoculars I know with friendly staff to boot.

We could not find anything to buy at but I was tempted by a Joby Gorilla Pod in metal, complete with ball head for £99. We booked a table in town at the Golden Fleece they do Pizza. The meal was great I had a monk fish curry, and they sold some lovely real ale, I went for the Adnams Ghost Ship. I took my camera with me because the light was low but it helps to take the battery with you which I had left on charge. We booked a table by the wind for Friday night.

Norfolk 2016 – Black headed yellow wagtail

View of Cley next the Sea
View of Cley next the Sea

A&C were due back home today and C had the Spurs Chelsea football match to attend, so we got an early start at Burnham Overy Staithe the plan was to walk back to the Cafe at Wells next the sea. We parked up at 09:30 and headed out along the sea wall the windows was blowing and we were glad of the layers we had with us. On the west side of the wall in the mud we saw quite a few waders highlights included Golden Plover.

It was much warmer when we were out of the wind and after some distance on the beach we headed into the pine forest in search of Goldcrest but we dipped. Helen’s foot had been playing up so we stopped for a rest at the hide for 5 minutes, before resuming. The walk was a lot longer than we expected, and we were glad to the get to the cafe, where we all had a drink. We thought we might get some nice food back in tow.

View of Cley next the Sea
View of Cley next the Sea

We cheated and got the miniature train back to Wells. It was an experience not to be forgotten and one I have never done before, it also saved us the long boring walk along the sea wall with the rest of humanity. We managed to get a table at the Wells Deli and I had a wonderful bowl of noodles vegetables and prawns in a chilli broth, it was excellent. We went back to the hut and grabbed A&C stuff then they dropped Helen and I back at the car. It had been great to have their company for a couple of days.

Helen and I drove to Titchwell RSPB which tuned out to be quite an adventure, first we blagged our way in because we could not find our current membership cards. The guy at the gate told us that there was a Black Headed Yellow Wagtail about and pointed out where it was on the map. Neither of us had ever seen one, and they do not feature in all bird ID books. Down on the path we saw a load of bird watchers scanning the area it had last been seen, but it had started to rain and so we did not hang about.

Holkham Beach and dunes Norfolk
Holkham Beach and dunes Norfolk

The next hide did not seem to have much wildlife about it so I suggested we went to the Parrinder hide a bit further down the path. We found and empty hide but noticed that there were a lot of people in the one next door. We scanned the water in front of the hide and started to spot the odd wader or two, there was not much about to write home about. I noticed that the people next door were looking in a certain direction so I trained my binoculars there too. After about a minute I chanced upon a canary yellow bird with a black head, there it was the Black Headed Yellow Wagtail. We watched it for a while and had great views before it disappeared behind a bank.

Windmill at Cley next the Sea
Windmill at Cley next the Sea

Whilst all that was going on it occurred to me the people on the bank might not know, so I checked them out with my binoculars and someone had obviously radioed the news over to them, as they all decamped over to the hide next to the one we were in. When they got there a few of them were disappointed an grumpy because it has moved out of sight. Some of them came into our hide to see if the angle afforded a view but it did not. We left the hide soon after, and when we got back to the bank some birders had managed to get a view of the bird on the bank that was out of view. We saw some of the grumpy ones heading back to where they started.

Helen and I got a look through one of the scopes it was a very distant view. We had been very fortunate. On the walk back to the visitor centre we told a few people where to see the bird and quite a few epople had arrived to take a look. We headed home for some dinner (salad) and an early night.