It’s a small world

Beach view Horsey Norfolk with seals
Beach view Horsey Norfolk with seals

The plans for today were centred around visiting Horsey Wind pump at Horsey, so following a leisurely breakfast we left the hut, and headed off. We are staying only about 10 minutes form the pump, which is run by the National Trust our plan was to do a circular walk, so see some seals by the sea and possible take in a boat trip from the mill, however just as we arrived outside Horsey I had a spontaneous change of plan, and we parked up at a beach car park. The car park was pay and display but the pay and display machine was locked up inside a mini container, so we saved ourselves a couple of quid.

The beach is accessed via a gap in the dunes which run along this part of the coast. The weather was great for taking photos as the haze of the last few days had cleared and the blue skies were covered in fluffy clouds. The weather forecast for most of the country was gales and rain but there was a chance that we were in a corner that would just miss all the bad weather. On the beach the wind was increasing but the sun was out and it was pleasant enough. The tide was going out and there was a stretch near the surf that was solid thus making walking easier. We headed south which was where we were told by Helen’s colleague the seals hang out. We soon started to spot waders on the beach ; Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Dunlin, and also Little Tern hunting over the sea. We walked for about a mile and spotted plenty of seals in the sea popping their heads out of the water to keep their eyes on us, then we came across probably about 200 seals lying on the beach between two break waters.

View from top Horsey Wind Pump NT Norfolk
View from top Horsey Wind Pump NT Norfolk

We headed up into the dunes so as not to disturb them, where we found somewhere to site down and watch them and have a snack of Christmas cake. I took the opportunity to take some time lapse photos with the GoPro. Next we headed back to the car the weather was still holding out but the wind was building as forecast. We drove the mill itself and parked up at the NT car park , another free be as we are members. The nice man at the cafe invited us in and explained about the mill, told us to get on the boat trip you need to put your name on the “automatic” booking system and was happy for us to us the cafe to eat our sandwiches. Helen when off to put our names on the booking system while I went and got her binoculars form the car, then we went had had a look at the Mill/Pump, which if you don’t mind steep steps gives a great view from a platform at the top. Back at the cafe we got a coffee and the man tempted Helen with a box a bargain cards, how did he know that Helen is a sucker for a card? We took our coffee’s outside and sat in the lee of the building and had lunch.

Ross's boat trips from Horsey Wind Pump
Ross’s boat trips from Horsey Wind Pump

We took a stroll round the broad for a bit to kill the 30 minutes before the boat trip. It turned into a private boat trip, as we were the only people booked on it. Ross Warrell who runs Ross’ Norfolk Broads River Trips it turns out has a connection, I mentioned that I went school fairly locally and he said did I know his borther Adrian turns out he was in the class below me, what a small world we live in. The boat trip was great Ross really like bird watching and essentially the trip turned into a bird watching trip. We saw loads of Marsh Harriers, Sedge Warblers, Reed Buntings, as you would expect but we also had a fly past by a Cuckoo and great views of two Hobby’s. We both really enjoyed the trip and would thoroughly recommend it, Ross is really the star of the boat with his knowledge of birds and his relaxed attitude to the whole tour of the broad.

Back on dry land we went back to car to decide what to do, we had probably an hour to do something but could not see anything on the map that took our fancy. We had been out in the wind all day and wanted something a bit more sheltered. We headed to Winterton-on-sea to see if we could get a coffee and found a gem of a cafe called Dunes Cafe just off the beach car park.We went in expecting nothing special, but inside it clearly was not you usual beach cafe, they had an expresso machine, a great collection of cakes, and the menu looked great too. On the wall there was evidence that it had featured in the press, with framed articles.We opted for the homemade red velvet cake which was a chocolate cake with beetroot and a butter cream icing, it was lush.

Coast watch tower at Winterton Norfolk
Coast watch tower at Winterton Norfolk

Whilst we had coffee I noticed there was a coast watch hut and a couple had been invited in to take a look, so after we left the cafe I wandered over to see if I could have a guided tour too. The man in the watch tower was just packing up as his shift finished at 16:00 but he very kindly agreed to show me around and tell me what he was up to. The watch is run form 08:00 to 16:00 each day and concentrates on smaller craft i.e. those not on the AIS system. Apparently the one at Winteron is covered by only 8 volunteers. I noticed on the table he had a note about a dead dolphin being reported on the beach to the south, backing up his comments that public treated them a lot like to the place to report anything from lost keys to lost children. We talked about local pubs and he recommended the Nelson Head at Horsey.

We got home we checked out the website for the Nelsons Head it looked good and promised to yo accommodate any diet,  Helen gave then a call and checked that they did veggie food and booked a table. The pub is a strange place in the back next to the var park there was a car van with a staffie at the window. In the pub it was like your tradition establishment with all sorts of brick a brac hanging from the walls including, a very large shot gun with a six foot barrel with a gauge of about an inch and a half, apparently it was used to shot many ducks with one shot. The food was average but the beer was great. I had Brain’s Bitter and Helen had Nelsons Revenge.

A day bird watching

Church in Norfolk
Church in Norfolk

Up at reasonable time with breakfast sorted, we left the house at 09:22 destination Cley Marshes, and a day bird watching. The route was familiar along the A149 which runs from around the North Norfolk coast from the broads at Yarmouth to Kings Lynn. We usually don’t like to spend too much time driving around when we are on holiday but the draw of Cley Marshes and the potential for bird watching was too much to resist.

The one hour journey was shortened somewhat by three episodes of The Archers, and my attempt to break my fuel usage record. The adaptive cruise control on the golf tends to accelerate smoothly and economically and the A149 has some long stretches of 50mph, by the time we parked up at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust car park we had achieved 61 miles per gallon which is very impressive.

Cley beach view
Cley beach view

We checked in at the visitors center had a pee and set off around the reserve, in a clockwise direction, which is not the way we usually walk around. At the first group of three hides it was great to see plenty of waders out on the scrapes; Ringed Plovers, Godwits, Dunlin, Sandpipers, Turnstone to mention a few. We then headed out to the beach car park where alas the cafe and loo are no more, following a storm a few years back the temporary structures have been removed. We walked on to the north most hide where we had some of A’s great Christmas cake that we had frozen just after Christmas. Then we stopped for sandwiches at the bench on the south east corner, where I also tried a timelapse with the go pro. We checked out the final hide nearest the visitors center, before we went in for a coffee and some well deserved apple cake.

Next stop was Cley Spy binocular shop where I had an opportunity to try our loads of binoculars, including a tempting set by Opticron at £299 DBA 10×25 Oasis W/P which give a great bright image, and pack down really small so would be perfect to keep in my rucksack when out for a walk. I picked up a bargain mini ball tripod head for £39 instead of the usual £55.

Fly on Alexander
Fly on Alexander

On the way home we picked up some supplies at Waitrose North Walsham. I had a plan for the evening after we had eaten, which was to try our the raptor watch point at Stubb Mill, apparently you can often see 10’s of Marsh Harriers and other raptors. I drove up to and parked at the visitors center but when I walked up the lane as I understood you were supposed to, I noticed that the gate was lockable. Despite looking at all the notices at the reserve there was not indication of when the gate would be locked, so I got back in the car and drove down to Stubb Mill. There were signs that suggested that they prefer people not to park there, I squeezed the car up against a bank next to the watch point, and kept my fingers crossed that no one would come and tell me off.

The sun was about 30 minutes from setting and was shining on the scrubby fields in front of me, but apart from the odd crow, cow and deer there was not much happening. I took some pictures and set up the gopro to do some timelapses, as I waited. Just as I was thinking I had wasted my time and that they only roost in the winter, I started noticing Harriers arriving in their ones and twos! My guess is that they were all Marsh Harriers but I did see one that I thought was grey on top which would make it a Hen Harrier, but I will not be putting it on my list. Then I started to hear not only a Bittern booming but a Cuckoo, well Cuckooing. I can imaging that in the winter when they are not breeding and it is cold they the sight is quite spectacular.

Serial boat trippers are we

Greylag nesting at Hicking NWT
Greylag nesting at Hicking NWT

We were up early had, breakfast then left the hut at 09:20, destination Hickling Broad NNR, about two miles walk. It was a pleasant walk, mainly by track and footpath, we arrived at the visitors center and attempted to book a place on the 1030 boat trip but unfortunately it was full, but there were some places on the 13:30 so we booked that one in instead.

As we had three hours to while away we started off slowly with a coffee, whilst we sat and drank our coffee we were surprised at the number of birds we spotted just sat there; Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Robin, Tits etc. We set off around the reserve stopping off at the Cadbury hide, named after the family who purchased the land and then donated it to the NWT some years ago. The Cadbury family still have a link with the reserve as they lease a lodge deep in the reserve and next to the edge of the open water. When someone is staying they raise an appropriate flag, today a flag with a Marsh Harrier was flying. We did not see much from the hide the I think because the water levels where so low the habitat was not how they had intended it when the hide was built.

In the next hide we thought that a situation was in front of us until Helen spotted a Water Rail. The Water Rail is a very elusive bird normally only observed briefly when they venture out of the reeds. The low water level was to hep us in this situation, the edges need the reeds where the rails would normally feed was dried up forcing it to wander out into the open. We saw it forage slowly and then go into a small patch reeds where we lost sight of it but our patience was rewarded when it came back out into the open for a while before a short flight back into the reeds. Along with the Black Tern yesterday the Water Rail wold be added to the weeks highlights.

Observation tower Hickling NWT
Observation tower Hickling NWT

Next it was down to the far edge of the reserve and past the Lodge leased by the Cadbury family, where we headed back towards the visitors center making the walk into a circular one. We ate the sandwiches we made back at the hut with another instant coffee then we walked back into the reserve to find the mooring for the boat trip.

There were not many birds to see on trip I think we were just there at the wrong time of year, all the winter wildfowl had left and the spring/summer migrants delayed by the delayed spring weather. The guide had some interesting facts to convey to us, one that stuck out was the story of Emma Turner who was a victorian naturalist who got permission to use an island on the broad which was used for hunting. She had a house boat built and a hide then lived there for the next 25 years, photographing and recording the birds.

We walked back to the hut and got back at 16:30 so we had a long day out in the field. We ventured out to the The Swan pub at Stalham an Adnams pub where the food was great.

Dogs on the loose

Control room at RAF Neatishead Norfolk
Control room at RAF Neatishead Norfolk

We were up and about at a reasonable time of 08:00, and we had a plan. Near by at Neatishead there is an retired RAF station which since the 2nd world war, and through the cold war was a radar station. There is museum there run by volunteers, and it opens at 10:00 with a tour starting at 10:30. We had breakfast then headed out following the sat nav, but because we could not find the (well spell) Neatishead, we set the destination as Horning. Helen then took charge and put the correct spelling in but then we then had to go anti-clockwise round the broad we had been travelling clockwise around!

As it happened we got there at bank on 10:00, and there was plenty of room in the car park. The entrance fee is only £6 but we opted to pay the slightly extra fee and agreed to the gift aid deal, which means that the charity can claim back the tax. A couple arrived behind us and the guy was explaining to the manager that he had been posted at Neatishead twice during hs career in the RAF, both times in the 80’s. The place reminded me a bit of Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire, the place would be nothing without the volunteers, but I can imagine that the committees and working groups behind the scenes must be a bit of a nightmare for the only paid employee, the manager.

Douglas Baders bunny at RAF Neatishead Norfolk
Douglas Baders bunny at RAF Neatishead Norfolk

The tour was very interesting and the speakers all very skilled at explaining the way that RADAR works, and how the RAF had perfected and used the technology to monitor the aircraft nearing the United Kingdoms airspace over the years. The first exhibit started with WWII where everything had to be done by hand, with token, and telephone lines being used to push the information up the chain of command. As RADAR improved the systems became slightly more sophisticated  and eventually, crude by today’s standards, computers were introduced. The final exhibit was a bit like the NASA mission control room, but all the large screens on the wall were maintained by operatives writing backwards on glass screens, to relay the information. When the tour was over we looked at most of the other exhibitions all RAF and RADAR related, including one where they explained how space was started to be monitored as satellites became the norm. We finished off by having a toasted sandwich and coffee at the cafeteria, which was find and good value.

My parents headed off home from the museum and Helen and I had a date with and NWT nature reserve at Ranworth Broad, so sat nav programmed we set off. As is tradition in this part of Norfolk you have to pass through Wroxham if are going anywhere, and today was no exception. It was comforting to know that Roys of Wroxham is still thriving in what one can only describe as Norfolk Broads on Sea, I would not be surprised if you an purchase “Kiss me quick” hats at Roys. Wroxham is at the cross roads of quite a few roads and has a bridge that joins the roads in the South to the roads in the north. Add to that the moorings and boat trips you can take from there, and everyone wants to be there on a bank holiday Monday, the place was Sergio Ramos. Luckily we were just passing through.

On the way to the Broad we stopped at the Woodfordes brewery of Wherry Bitter fame, we were hoping to get a take out 4 pint container of beer, but unfortunately they did not have the facilities to do that in the shop, but hey did sell the containers, which could be filled at the pub next door. We purchased a container but decided we would get the beer at the pub near the hut, where we knew we could get Bure Gold and kind of summer ale at 4.3%. We parked up in a conveniently placed field below the church at Ranworth, which was free and just a short walk to the nature reserve. To get to the reserve visitors center there is a board walk, which is just a short walk. The building is floating and there are plenty of viewing points on the upper deck where you can look out over the broad. We inquired about the boat trips and as luck would have it there was one due in 15 minutes, so we paid the £5 a head, members price, and waited.

Ranworth Broad floating visitors center
Ranworth Broad floating visitors center

The boat trip was very relaxing the boat just pootled around the edge of the broad at about 2 mph which the informative volunteer told us about the wildlife and management of the place. We saw quite a few species, even though the winter is the busiest season for the broad, including Great Crested Grebe, Teal, Cormorant, Common  Tern as well as the less common Black Tern. We thought that the boat trip would take us back to the floating visitors center but it took us to the next door broad called Malthouse broad at a pub called the Maltsters inn. From there it was just a short walk back to the car.

We took the opportunity to have a look around he church, which had a tower you could climb up to take a look at the view. The notices warned on many narrow steps so I was left on my own to tackle it. And narrow the steps were then there was a metal m ladder followed by a final set of wooden steps which lead to a hatch onto the roof. Luckily for me we only passed two people on the way up could fit into a doorway as I went past. The view from the top was great because not only was the church on a hill top but the tower was a tall one too. I joined about 8 other people heading down I thought that we would have the strength of numbers where it came to who would back off if we came to and impasse. Luckily we did not but at times it was a bit of a squeeze especially as I had a rucksack on my back.

We had a drink and piece of cake at the church cafe, the cake was a bit disappointing as I was expecting home made cake but the Honey and Cream  was obviously shop bought and frozen. The journey home was short and we seemed to be going the right way as there seemed to be lots of cars going the other way but stuck in several queues. They would probably be at work tomorrow, we wouldn’t.

You may be wondering about the title of the blog post, well on two occasions today we had to give way to dogs wandering onto the road from the drive of two houses, the owners seemingly oblivious to the potential fate of their canine friends. Perhaps it is a Norfolk thing?

The Poppy Line from Sheringham

Ickworth Hall NT Park view
Ickworth Hall NT Park view

We were up at a reasonable 08:00, and had some toast and coffee for breakfast, then lounged about till 10:00, then headed out the plan was to go to Cromer. We took the A149 which follows the coast al the way round to Kings Lynn.

When we got to Cromer we had a change of heart and decided to go to the the Poppy Line, a steam train line, at Sheringham. Being just a little bit further down the coast, it did not take us long to get there, and park up. We paid £5 for a days parking. We went to the ticket office and bought tickets for the trains, the way it works is once you have the tickets you can jump on and off the tran all day for £16. The next steam train was in a hour so we had a look around Sheringham and stopped for a coffee, before waiting on platform one for the train to arrive.

The train was full but not packed, everyone got a seat. They were having a Thomas the tank engine weekend so all of the engines had plastic faces attached to them, which did It make for good photo’s. There is a stop at Weybourne and it was where the main Thomas stuff was going on we took one look and decided to stay on the train till Holt.

At Holt station there is a bus stop, and one was due in less than 20 minutes, so we thought we would wait for be bus as it is about a mile and a half into town, however after about 30 minutes there was no bus, and we had a dilemma we needed to get back in time to get to a supermarket for our planned evening meal, so we ended up heading back to the station and got a diesel train back to Sheringham.

Boats near Sheringham
Boats near Sheringham

On the way back we stopped off at the North Walsham Waitrose, and picked up some supplies for dinner. We dumped the food back at the hut then headed out for a walk on the beach at Sea Palling, which is a strange place. There is a concrete ramp leading to the beach between the sand dunes, the local fisher men use it to launch their boats. Once over the dunes there is some break waters out a sea they clearly have an erosion issue, there were some serious boulders piled up for a mile or two out at sea with a gap every hundred or so yards. As we walked down the beach we spotted Sandwich and Little tern.

We returned to he car park by heading in land over the dunes then following a track parallel to the beach. Along the track there were quite a few wooden shacks of varying sophistication many of them with water, electricity and phones, I even think they had off mains sewage.

Back at the main area I dropped in to the amusement arcade, and changed a fiver for some 10 pence pieces. The arcade had a strange system of tickets wins prizes, every time you had a go on a machine you would get tickets and if you actually won you got even more. I got two 75 ticket wins on a roulette style game. You take your tickets to a machine where you feed them in and they get counted and you are issued with a receipt if the count. I had enough for a pen so I went to the counter and showed my tickets and said could I have a pen any pen. There was one confusion the lad thought I wanted to borrow a pen, but eventually were on the same wavelength. I followed him over to the cabinets and pointed to the only decent looking pen. He had trouble finding the pen I wanted so I settled for two sets of highlighter pens.

Back at the hut we lounged around again (well we are on holiday) then had salad and anti-pasta for dinner. We followed that up with a game of knock out whist, which I won. Then we settled down in from of the telly to watch the antiques roadshow, rock n roll, followed by the last episode of the village, and great series on BBC1.

Home to Hickling Green for a holiday

Ickworth Hall NT
Ickworth Hall NT

We were up early (well I was) in anticipation of going on holiday, to Hickling Green for a week. We had booked a cottage, and my parents were joining us for the first couple of nights. The cottage would be ours from 16:00 so we had plenty of time to get there, and had left the packing to the morning of the day of departure, however as usual we were all packed and ready to go by 10:00, we had 6 hours to do a 3 hour journey.

The plan was to stop off at RSPB Sandy to buy some binoculars that Helen had promised me for my birthday. It took only just over the hour to get to Sandy the RSPB headquarters. We parked up and it started to chuck it down with rain so we ran to the shop and visitors centre, however we did not stay for long, there was no cafe and the optics selection was not that great and no one seemed interested in selling, I would wait till we are next at Minsmere where they have a bigger selection and knowledgeable staff on hand.

Now we had a dilemma where to stop off next? There were a few options, we fancied making the most of our National Trust membership, Wimpole Hall and Anglesey Abbey were near, too close in fact, but we had visited previously. We settled on Ickworth Hall which would take us via Bury St Edmunds thus avoiding Thetford which I feared would be busy as there was a 40mph long stretch of road which was being widened. Thetford has always been a bit of a bottle neck and we have experienced delays passing through on the way to the North Norfolk coast in the past.

Primroses at Ickworth Hall NT
Primroses at Ickworth Hall NT

We stopped for a paper to distract Helen from my driving, and arrived at Ickworth Hall at about 12:30. The weather was warm with blue skies and white fluffy clouds, perfect spring weather for taking photo’s, although we would have to be wary of possible down pours. The main feature f Ickworth Hall is the massive rotunda building that forms the middle of the hall which had two impressive wings as well, one of which was an up market hotel.

First things first we used the facilities then headed for the restaurant, which was not the usual queue up with a tray and choose your fare variety but a wait here for a table and the be waited on variety. We stood by the wait here sign and despite catching the eye of one of the waitresses stood about dong nothing, it was not until two further groups of people had turned up that we got some attention! We ordered spring vegetable gnocchi (Helen) and smoked salmon and bread (Neil) from a waitress who called Alune who quickly came over and took our order when we looked up from our menu, excellent service. The food tasted great and the coffee was great, the next challenge was to pay, we went over to til,and again despite being noticed by a couple of waitresses no one came over to take our money, until we had waited a few minutes!

We exited via the shop, but Helen forewent the shopping delaying it till later in our visit. Next we went out to the sunny side of the building to get some pictures. There were plenty of Cowslips and Primroses under some Magnolia bushes which kept me distracted while Helen smoked the evil weed. The gardens were well maintained, and manicured around the back of the house, and around the front the landscape was more parkland but there were thousands of daffodils in flower to add some foreground to my pictures.

Magnolia at Ickworth Hall NT
Magnolia at Ickworth Hall NT

The house was quite interesting it seems that it had been built in phases over the generations as each generation fell on good and bad times. The rotunda must have cost a bit with all the curved components required to build it. Helen and I speculated how they might of done the floor boards were the cut curved or cuts straight then bent to shape. I reckon they were bent to shape it would have been very difficult to get the curve correct and I guess you would have ended up bending them a bit anyway to make them fit with the others.

We left the hall at just after 14:00 and the sat nav was predicting and arrival at Hickling Green at 15:57 perfect. The drive was pleasant especially with the Golfs adaptive cruise control dealing with the throttle pedal. We passed through territory that was familiar to me as we got closer to and passed Norwich. We were soon following signs for the broads and arrived at Hickling Green at 15:58 not a bad prediction by the sat nav.

View of field from Hickling village
View of field from Hickling village

The cottage we had rented from Norfolk Country Cottages was well appointed and equipped, we would be very comfortable for our week. After settling in we took a stroll down to the broad at Hickling itself and took in the area on the way. We decided that many of the houses were weekend cottages but there also seemed to be a really good sense of community, with many notices for clubs and society meetings and events going on.

That evening we went to the Greyhound Pub to eat, we had booked a table but judging but we probably had not needed to. The fare was pub food mainly fried but that suited me fine, Helen and I had veggie burgers dad had seafood medley and mum had some chicken dish which to her surprise came in a bun. Helen and I decided not to have a dessert but I ended up eating half of dads lemon meringue sundae which was really tasty, you really can’t go wrong with cream, ice cream and meringue with a lemon sauce.

After getting up early we were in bed early too!

Beaten by the Stiffkey potatoes

Norfolk sea wall view I
Norfolk sea wall view I

We’re off to Stiffkey for the weekend and apparently if you are in the know you pronounce it stew’key. Stiffkey is a long village on the north Norfolk coast between Wells-next-to-sea and Blakeney. We had popped over to my parents about half way there on Thursday night, and were up early so we could leave before the cleaners got there. We hit the road at 08:50 headed though Peterborough and on past Kings Lynn and stopped of at Fat Birds cycling shop at Hunstanton to see if we could Helen some cycling waterproofs for her commute to work.

We didn’t find the perfect water proofs but got some ideas, but Helen did come away with some new cycling gloves. We then headed off up the coast road to our first port of call Titchwell Marsh RSPB reserve, where we would be getting our first go in their newly opened Parrinder Hide. The RSPB have decided that they can’t win the battle with global warming and sea rising so have built a new sea wall a bit further in land than the existing one and they have build a brand new hide on top. They will let the sea breach the existing one but preserve the habitats for marsh birds slight further inland. Despite being the peak of the holiday season the reserve was not too busy, there was no queue for a coffee.

After a welcome coffee we headed out on the footpath to the beach where we sat on the collapsed pill box that is visible when the tide is out. It was very windy and sand got into everything. I left my new GoPro Hero2 taking some time lapse pictures for 10 minutes at one picture per two seconds, should result in a 10 to 20 second video. We headed back up the path and stopped off at the new Parrinder hide, which I must say is excellent, it has the same big glass windows that they have at Island mere at Minsmere RSPB, you can wind the bottom part down and pull the top part up giving you a great open air view, which was handy for another time lapse session.

We stopped off at the other hide for a quick look and another set of pictures, then headed back to the cafe for some lunch. The highlights included 15 Spoonbill, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Grey, Golden and Ringed Plover, Ruff and Avocet. At the cafe I had a Stilton and mushroom hot baguette and Helen had the largest beans and baked potato I have ever seen served at an RSPB establishment, there was at least a tin of beans with the rugby ball of a potato. It turned out to be too much for Helen, and some was left.

Norfolk sea wall view II
Norfolk sea wall view I

We then headed on up the coast road and stopped at Burnham Deepdale for some retail therapy. Thee is a new shop that sells all sorts of wildlife gear including Microscopes, tempting as it was I passed up the opportunity to walk out with a stereoscopic one. Helen was tempted by some bags and managed to purchase some much needed greeting cards, I think our stocks must be getting a bit low!

Then it was back in the car for a short drive to The Red Lion in Stiffkey. We had a swift half (Woodforde’s Wherry and IPA Gold) at the bar then unpacked car freshened up. The beer was good the menu looked good, and the rooms were well appointed, clean and smart. We headed out up the main road then took a left up a footpath towards the sea. After about half a mile we came across some farm building and a band of trees which for a drop down to the marsh. We took a left and then a right hoping to get down to the sand beyond the marsh. It was very muddy all around but the footpath was pretty dry and solid. At the beach we sat and looked at the distant seals on Blakeney Point and the birds out on the beach, there were quite a few calls from Curlews.

Back at the pub I had a shower and then headed down to the bar for something to eat, but not before leaving all the gadgets on charge for the next day, we only bought two chargers with us so some juggling would be required. To eat I had salmon on crushed garlic potatoes and spinach, and Helen had a goats cheese salad with some chips. Mine was really nice and Helen was once again defeated by potatoes. We had couple of pints and then retired to bed we had really enjoyed our first day in North Norfolk.

Mad dogs …

Wet and windy
Wet and windy

… and englishmen and women, go out in the Norfolk rain and wind. After the early start for the seal trip we had some time on our hands, so after coffee we decided to go for a walk out on the marsh in the wind and the rain.

Down the high street of Blakeney then at the quay turned right toward the wildfowl  pond the take the restricted byway toward the sea, you then cross over the sea defences and can head out on to the marsh. On a nicer day there would have been lots of birds to look at, but today was not the day for that. We got soaked on the front  side walking out and then the backside got wet on the way back in.

Back at the hut we had cheese sandwiches, and spent the afternoon watching a film. You might even get a film review later.

Mixed bag day

Blakeney sunset
Blakeney sunset

The weather so far had been great but this morning it did not look as good as it had been. We got the bus t0 Stiffkey with a plan to walk back to Blakeney. The bus as usual was on time and we were soon walking out to the sea on the foot patch that runs from the antique lap ship, in the centre of Stiffkey. It was dry.

Once we got to the marshes it started to rain and continued all the way to Blakeney. On the path we saw quite a lot of birds, including a flock of I think Golden Plover and two Spoonbills. We emailed the Spoonbills in to Bird Guides dot com and got a polite email back thanking us.

Salthouse
Salthouse

We had some lunch back at the hut then we all went separate ways, some went shopping, but Helen and I went to Salthouse for a short circular walk via the Quag, where we have seen some interesting birds on the past. When we parked up we noticed that the old post office at Salthouse was now open as a shop/butchers, previously it has always appeared closed, and derelict. We walk down the lane to the Quag not much about apart from a flock of Goldfinch. Once up on the sea defences the going got tough with all the shingle, and Helen spotted three seals or the sane seal three times. It was a very pleasant walk over familiar ground.

When we got back I had a shower then  noticed that the sun was out, and very low, looked like there could be a nice sunset, so I headed down to the quay at Blakeney to get some pictures. The sunset was not as good as it could have been because there was some cloud low on the horizon. I made the  most of the low sun light and tried a series of pictures which I home to turn into a panorama.

All in all despite the weather a great day out in the fresh air, better than work any day.

BOS to Holkham again!

Old bridge
Old bridge

Not an early start today, we got the 10:18 coast hopper from Blakeney village hall, to Burnham-overy-staith. We walked on the sea wall then straight out ontoi the big beach that is Holkham, a few miles of sand and we swung a left in land with the hope of a coffee/lunch break at the 0holkham tea room. Turns out it is shut, the Victria Hotel was open but were doing full menu till 15:00, only then would they serve sandwiches.
We decided to get the bus to Wells where we found a great place that did huge sandwiches in a pub garden. After some refreshments we headed along the coastal path, the plan was to walk to Stiffkey for a pint at the Red Lion.

Burnham harbour
Burnham harbour

The walk along the marsh was long, and the sun was hot, eventually we swung a left in land and can out at the Stiffey antique center and headed right towards the pub. The pub was very welcoming, we had beer, coke, coffee, and expresso, plus a few packets crisps and nuts.
The bus was a welcome luxury saving us the last few miles back to Blakeney. All in all a good day out.