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

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

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

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 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

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

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

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

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.

Norfolk 2016 – Walk from Salthouse to Blakeney

View of Wells-next-the-sea Norfolk

We were up relatively early and were aiming to get a bus from Blakeney village hall to walk back to Blakeney, taking in a coiple of coffee stops. A made us some porridge for breakfast, and we followed that up with some toast, we were all set to walk at least until lunch time. The weather was sunny and slightly warmer than the day before.

It did not take long to get to Blakeney and the car park was not very full. We had a ten minute wait for the bus which arrived full of passengers but the bus almost emptied before we got on. The bus fare was £2 a head one way to Salthouse green. The weather was fine with wispy cirrus clouds, the type of Norfolk big sky weather I like. We took the beach road towards the sea and then turned west. The walk was a bit of a slog because NWT now let the shingle banks collapse in the winter storms.

Holkham Beach Norfolk

We stopped often to look for birds and I spotted what I thought was a Short Eared Owl, it was close in but flew away from us. Some other birds watchers further down the road confirmed by my sighting. The last time I had seen one was on the path between Cley and Blakeney quite a few years back. When we go to the East bank we noticed a new open hide had been built where a bench used to be, we stopped and tried it out, but most of the waders were over the far side further east. I took the opportunity to take a time lapse sequence of the stunning sky. We heard rumours of a Spoonbill and were chuffed to spot it close in further down the bank.

We stopped of in the NWT visitor centre for lunch which we had outside as the weather was noticeably warmer than the day before. I had a crab sandwich for a second day running. I took the opportunity to remove my thermal under layer. C took the opportunity to visit the Cley Spy shop to get replacement rain guards for her binoculars  which she had lost the day before.

Next stop would be Blakeney, and we headed into Cley then took the path that passes the Windmill rather than the busy road. Three of us grabbed an ice cream at the Cley Deli which went down well, and gave us an energy boast for the sea wall walk to Blakeney. Soon after the start of the path we spotted what might be Bearded Tits and after some perseverance we got great views which were a first for C.

News papers sold from a windows in Cley next the Sea

We were quite tired by the time we got to Blakeney and did not hang about  as there were a lot of people about. On the walk back to the car we tried phoning a few restaurants to try to get a table for 4, we we did not hav much luck until we called the Edinburgh Hotel which had a table for us. At first we were a bit worried as to why there was a table available, however when we looked at the website it looked OK and sold pub grub.

We got back to the hut and rested after the long walk. The pub seemed like a genuine local with lots of Norfolk accents to be heard at the bar. I had some great fish and chips with a very generous portion of mushy peas washed own with a pint of Woodfords Wherry and another of Nelson bot very quaffable. By the time we return to the hut we were ready for bed and soon were sleeping soundly.

Norfolk 2016 – It’s all about the journey

Big Norfolk sky at Holkham

No Thames Path for a couple of weeks as we are off to Norfolk for a week, staying at Wells-Next-The-Sea. We were up in good time so much so I took the opportunity to get a long over due haircut in Wendover. It was at the front of a queue of 3 when they opened, and left shorn when there were 7 in the queue. We had invited A&C to stay with us on the Saturday and Sunday nights.

We left the house at 09:30 and took a route via Hemel Hempstead and Hatfield, then on to Thetford and beyond. Helen contacted A&C via SMS it turns out we had made similar progress they were slightly ahead and warned us about traffic in Fakenham, which enabled us to take a cross country route. We agreed to meet up at Cley NWT for a bite to eat. After eating we decided to grab some food from the Cley deli them go to the hut and sump our stuff then go for a walk.

Holkham Beach Norfolk

We walked from the hut out along the sea wall to the caravan site and them the coat guard watch hut. We walked along the beach where there were some seals. I convinced everyone that we should walk all the way to The Victoria then get the bus. On the way we saw some Brent geese and later some meadow pipits. We arrived at the bus at the time of what turned out to be the last bus which luckily was running late and so we got the bus.

For dinner has stuff we had bought at the Cley deli. The blue soft cheese was lovely. All in all a good journey and a great time with good friends.

Cley NNT, Blakeney and double crumble

Norfolk Sky

We were up around 0800 in time to get croissants from the deli next door, where there is a sign which says if you don’t want to be disappointed turn up at 0830 or order for collection. I changed my mind when I saw they had baguettes for sale but the woman in n front of me bought the last three! We had planned to get the bus to Cley but by the time we had got ready it was too late for the 0940 and the next one was not till 1020, so we got the car and just about beat the 0940 to the visitors centre at the reserve.

The centre was shut till 1000 so we hung around so Helen could have a pee before the tour of the marsh. We set out anticlockwise not our usual way and stopped off at the group of three hides. We realised it our I’d skills were rusty when we could not is the ruff in front of the hide and the sandpiper. We left the hide and headed to the beach car park where the Cafe used to be, and when we got there sat on some rocks and looked out to sea. Amongst the wind turbines was what looked like an accommodation pod, the sort that is a boat which up ends when you fill the pointy end with water. Terns were conspicuous by there absence all departed south for the winter.

Blakeney High Street

We headed in land along the east bank, I was hoping for a sit down on the bench, near the sluices, but some one was already there, but as we approached they got up I thought that was lucky, but it turned out he was sitting on the grass bank, the bench has gone after being there at least as long as we have been visiting Cley. We stopped and sat on the grass bank in the hope of seeing some bearded tits but we had to settle for sandwiches, perhaps the wind was keeping them low in the reeds. Before we went to the visitors centre for a coffee we stopped of in the last hide on the anticlockwise route, there were plenty of waders, including an avocet spotted by Helen.

The lunchtime queue for food and drinks was long so we decided to whizz round to Cley Spy for some coffee and cake, and some binocular browsing. The Art Cafe at Glandford is a real specialist coffee brewing emporium. They roast and sell the beans. The Cafe offers four ways to brew filter, cafietier, espresso, and Aerobie. I went for an americano and it was great just about the right blend of bitter and nutty, and the apple crumble cake went down nicely too.

Norfolk sky over reeds

Helen and I now have matching binoculars because after a coffee Helen tried a few compact models, some priced at over £600 before settling on a more modestly priced pair just like mine. After that Helen needed a rest so we went back to Blakeney, where we parked at the village hall. After a look round the book sales at the village hall I went off to take some photos and Helen did some light tut shopping.

We had a table at The Moorings booked for 1800 so I headed off to move the car from the village hall to the quay side car park. I found a space at the high end of the car park then did a quick time lapse with the mini Cyclops. The food at The Moorings was excellent, Helen had a risotto and I had a seared tuna steak, then apple elderberry and gooseberry crumble with custard. After eating we headed down to the harbour to watch the cars left to the mercy of the tide a white fiesta was there long enough to get water inside. We hung around long enough for a great sunset. At one point someone tried to get away with my mini Cyclops which I had positioned on a traffic cone.

Bank holiday weekend traffic to Blakeney

Holme beach

We wanted to go away for the bank holiday weekend, but struggled to find one that suited us as our usual haunts were booked up, then we decided to take the Friday off and rent a cottage in Blakeney Friday to Monday. We set off early and stopped for coffee with my folks near Peterborough, leaving us two hours drive to Holme/Titchwell. The sat nav suggested a different route to usual, after ignoring the proposed route I realised that it was because of  6 tail back near Kings Lynn, so we quickly changed routes. In the end it took about 3 hours to get to Holme-next -sea where we renewed our membership of the NNT and took a stroll on the beach and over the dunes, the weather was perfect sunny with clouds, warm with a Norfolk breeze.

Blakeney panorama

We had planned to stop at Titchwell RSPB but decided to head straight for Blakeney, where the parking was a challenge, we ended up down on the car park near the marsh, where there were warnings about the tides, however I checked with the car park attendant who said we were OK till Sunday evening (I hope he was not lying!). We had planned to eat out, but the cottage was next door to a delicatessen where whe stocked up with stuff to make a salad, and decided a pint down at the front followed by a healthy salad would be fine. We already had tables booked for Saturday and Sunday.

We carried our luggage up to the cottage, which was well appointed with three bedrooms, more than we needed but it was the only one we found that was a reasonable price for the weekend. Clean, tidy a recently decorated it would be fine for a weekend. I made myself at home by connecting up the Wifi then plugged the Fire Stick into the TV to make sure that worked too. We then took a walk down to the quayside and out on to the marshes. There were many people crabbing, and Beans Seal trips was plying his trade. The tides meant that seal trips would have to be at 17;00 or 18:00 for the weekend. At £12 for an hours trip they are good value.

Blakeney Sunset

As we walked out on the marsh as far as the gravel ath would take us, I could hear bees buzzing. On investigation there was what looked like a swarm but they were solitary bees as each one had it’s own little burrow. As we walked back the light was low and great for taking photo’s which I did. I moved the car to a higher spot on the car park (just in case). A pint was in order and we found Adnams being served at Blakeney Manor, with a free picnic table available overlooking the marsh it tasted even better.

Back at the hut we had salad and a quiche/tart each and watched iPlayer on the Fire Stick whilst planning our Saturday.

Two camels to North Norfolk

Cley marsh early evening

We had a loose arrangement to go away for the weekend with our friends H&N, which we had not got round to arranging when out of the blue we got an email with details of a cottage, which would be booked whether we were coming or not. We were over the moon and arranged to have the Friday off, we would be spending the weekend in North Norfolk in a little village called Wiveton with a pub called the Bell with a reputation for good pub grub. We were up quite early and left the house at about 08:45 destination my parents, for a coffee stop. We stopped for about an hour then headed towards Peterborough then across the flat lands towards Kings Lynn. As we left the ring road at a roundabout we spotted a circus tent and to our surprise two camels grazing in the field. Our planned stop was the cafe at Holkham but when we got there the place was closed for refurbishment, so we had to go to the Victoria for some lunch. They did not have a snack menu, so we had a starter each. Helen had the soup of the day, and I had a chicory, Roquefort and walnut sale, which was quite small but we asked for bread with it so it filled a hole.

Cley windmill

We crossed over the road to Queen Anne’s drive and parked up then spent a couple of hours wandering through the pine forest then back along Holkham Beach where the usual nudists were absent, probably some thing to do the with cold wind, as the sun was out and the sky was blue. We then headed toward Cley and helen spotted a short-eared owl from the car and I just about got sight of it to identify the species. We stopped at the deli in Cley for some snacks and salad for later, then parked up at the far end of the reserve and walked out on the bund, to the sea. The sun was low so the light was great for taking photos, so I did. In the reedbed we spotted reed buntings. There were some frisky swans fighting and plenty of waders. The curlews were calling which is always a great sound to hear it reminds me of the seaside when I hear it out of context for example on the TV in the back ground.

It was getting towards17:00 so we headed to the cottage that N&H had rented, and on the way there we spotted another owl species from the car this time a barn owl. We found the cottage easily thanks to Helen having checked it out on street view the day before. H&N we’re not far behind as N had got the afternoon off. We had my pasta sauce for dinner then caught up on each other’s news.

N cooked us a breakfast as a result we did not leave the hut until 11:00 the rough plan was to head to the coast then turn right and see how far we got before turning back in land and back to Wiveton. It was an overcast day but the forecast was for no rain till the evening so we did not need to take waterproofs. We headed out of the village on the road until we got to the main coast road where we crossed over on to the sea wall until we reached the village of Cley by the sea. We made sure we got on the correct section of the sea wall because there is a section that heads towards Cley but then curves around and takes you west to Blakeney, we were heading east to Salthouse.
We passed through the Cley windmill complex and then out towards the sea and the car park where there used to be a cafe but after a winter storm some years ago it was washed away and never replaced. The tide was quite low so we had the luxury of hard standing to walk on near the water’s edge, but eventually we had to walk in land and over a long stretch of gravel which was hard work. We took a familiar path in land to Salthouse as Helen and I had stayed there a few years ago. We had lunch at the Dun Cow, had changed and gone all trendy since we last visited it. The food used to be fried pub grub, I had smoked salmon salad and gavalax, the others had a goats cheese salad and deep fried mushrooms, and haloumi chips with chipolte mayonnaise. The food was good but we would have referred a sandwich, rather than a selection of starters.

Wiveton church

Suitably refreshed we then headed back to the hut, but we took the more direct route following a footpath that ran parallel to the coat road and more inland. We couple not find a path I had spotted on open street map so we had to walk up Old Woman’s Lane to get back on track. We passed though the Cley churchyard then up Glandford Road, across the bridge and back in to Wiveton. We were all quite tired as it had been a long walk, so we sat and watched the French lose to Wales in the Six Nations. We had a table booked at the Wiveton Bell which has a reputation for good food, it was a good job that we booked because as we arrived a lady was being turned away despite her pleading. The beer was good as well as the food. I had Lemon Sole and the other had a risotto which was very filling so we skipped dessert.

Next morning we were up a a reasonable time as we had to vacate the hut by 10:00 so rather than a cooked breakfast we had toast, then gave the hut the once over and vacated just after 10:00. We headed for Cley Spy at Glandford to have a drool over the expensive optics that they sell. H&N bought a reasonably price pocket sized binoculars, then we headed to the Art Cafe and had a look round the tut. Helen managed to buy a cushion to add to our collection. Next stop would be

Holkham beach view

Holkham beach as the sky was blue albeit a bit windy. We parked at the Beach Cafe at Wells rather than Queen Annes drive because we would then be able to have a spot of lunch after our walk. We kept to the woods as we walked west so to avoid walking into the cold wind We got almost to Queen Anne’s drive before popping out of the woods and letting the hound loose on Holkham, boy can that dog run. By the time we had walked along the beach back to the coastguard’s look out the temperature was not as cold as it had been first thing, and so we sat outside and had a coffee and something to eat.

We said our goodbyes then headed home whilst listening to Ireland beat England in the Six Nations. The journey was quite uneventful with little traffic but we made a bad choice as we crossed Luton and wasted sometime following the SatNav through town when we should have gone via the airport. All in all a great weekend with good company, as good a weather as you would expect at this time of year, and some good walking.

A weekend in Burnham Overy Staithe

Holkham Beach HDR

A&C invited to spend a couple of days at the beginning of their holiday in Burnham Overy Staithe, we jumped at the chance, for some walking and bird watching on he North Norfolk coast. I when home at lunch time to get our luggage and then left work at 16:00 and picked Helen up from work. We had a pretty good journey considering hat it was a Friday and the weekend weather looked like being fine. Apart from the odd stretch of slow traffic, we really never got in a traffic jam except of at Brandon but we expected hat because there is always a queue of traffic stretching out to the edge of the town, caused by the traffic lights at the centre.

About 30 minutes away from the coast we got a all from A they had failed to get to the shops of time to get everything they needed, so we did a quick raid on the Waitrose at Swaffham for some cheese (including some of that Bleu Affinois), bread, salad and coffee. We arrived at the cottage a about 19:30. A&C did us proud with some lovely roast butternut squash soup, with foccacia and Bleu Affinois! We sat around and chatted, and went to bed about 23:00 pretty late for us, even on a Friday.

Holkham Beach Panorama

I was awake early the sun was shining which made it difficult to get back to sleep but I snoozed until about 08:00. We had breakfast while we put together a vague plan of action. We planned to walk from the house heading out on the coastal path towards Holkham, which is one of Helen’s all time favourite walks.

We headed out along the sea defences it was surprising how cold the wind was and I had just about got enough layers with me. The sea defences lead to a board walk that takes you over the dunes, and onto the main beach. We walked along the beach checking out the flotsam to be found at the tide line, then headed back over the dunes about halfway to the gap, and not the pine wooded area, for a change of scenery. It was surprising how much warmer it was n the shelter of the wind. We eventually found the hide and had a rest, watching out over the marshy field area, where at one point we saw a Marsh Harrier being harassed by lapwings as it searched out presumably lapwing chicks wandering around on the meadow areas.

Holkham Victoria Little planet

We took a slight detour at the gap to look at the area behind the beach where the samphire grows, then headed over to the cafe at the entrance to the Holkham estate, where we had a light lunch. We had some time spare before the next bus so we took a look at the tutt in the Adnams shop, and the supposed outdoor shop that just sold clothes. We did take a look at the shopped called Bring The Outdoors In which had a mix of genuine old stuff, hand made flotsam things and manufactured goods, even I was impressed by some of the goods. However I did not purchase anything.

Next it was the coast hopper to Burnham Deepale, where I just had to drop into the One Stop Nature  to have a look at the stuff they sell. Everything you could ever want in terms of looking at nature, from books to binoculars through stealth camera to microscopes. As much as I liked the stereo microscopes they would not have fitted into my ruck sack as it was full of camera gear.

The next leg of the journey was to be the short walk along the sea defences back to Burham Overy Staithe, or so we thought. The weather was starting to close it and there seemed to be rain showers all around, however we managed to keep out of all of them. Our destination seemed to get quite close but then we realised and Helen and I remembered that there is a significant dog log in the defences which adds about a third to what the length of the walk looks like. We eventually got close to the village, and the path leads off across the field towards the wind mill but I thought I knew better, I spotted a foot path that lead in land rather than along the road.

Woodland Walk from Cley Spy

Eventually the pat ran out and we were stuck between private property notices and water/mud. We did not fancy retracing our steps so started looking for ways out of our predicament. Whilst looking for exits from a filed we heard a voice asking us if we were lost, we explained we were, and the nice lady rather than being angry to find us trespassing, offered us the opportunity to walk up her drive to the road. What a kind person.

We were soon back at the hut, it was about 17:30 we had been out for 7 and a hlaf hours and had probably covered 8-9 miles. However there is no rest for the wicked we had a table booked for 19:00 at The Hero we had time for a cup of tea, a freshen up, and a cheeky glass of champagne and we had to leave the hut again.

The Hero is a pub that does good quality pub grub, the staff are really great, and the beer is good to. We had a bit of a potential mishap in that the wrong order came out, but it turned up the wrong plate had been picked up and all ended well. We had for starters chicken liver parfait, vegetable spring rolls, goats cheese tart, and mackerel pate, for mains two Dover sole, spring vegetable risotto, and duck. Everyone agreed the food was great. Back at the house we chatted away the rest of the evening.

A’s crab collection

No one was up early on Sunday, and we had a leisurely breakfast of muesli, yoghurt, strawberries and toast washed down with tea and coffee. We formulated a plan, we would take two cars to Cley Spy the binocular shop for a quick perusal then we would do Bayfield Bird Walk which Helen and I had done a few times before but always enjoy.

We did not spot many birds on the way round but we did enjoy the early summer lushness of the woods, the weather was overcast but quite warm so it made for a very enjoyable walk, and we did have a laugh amoungst ourselves and we went round. At the Wild flower center we stopped off for coffee and cakes, then finished off the last leg of the walk back to Cley Spy, where unfortunately Helen and I had to leave for home, leaving A&C to enjoy the rest of their week. We pointed them in the direction of Cley marshes and the local delicatessen, and said our good byes we had had a great weekend.

Our journey home was pretty uneventful and took the regulation 3 hours. We were very jealous of A&C who had managed to get out on the marshes at Cley and had seen a Bluethroat a bird neither I not Helen had ever seen, it would be a good start to A&C’s holiday bird list.

Poncho on poncho off

View of Blickling Hall NT Norfolk

Last day in Norfolk, weather promised to be windy with frequent shows and we were not let down. The plan was to take a look at the board walk at Barton Broad, as recommended by Ross the boat man, and then take a look at a Nation Trust property probably Blickling Hall. It was only a short drive to Barton Broad, we parked up we had a choice of any parking space clearly a popular place. The board walk was about 1km walk, down a narrow country road we didn’t meet any traffic but we did get a shower so the poncho was donned.

We soon found the entrance to the board walk, which is really well built, according to the notices they had to put in some piles 6.5m down to hit solid enough ground to support it. The walk is circular out over the wooded marsh area and has an observation point. We stopped off and watched from the observation point, spotting terns, plenty of grebes, and we heard what we thought was the call of a water rail. Another shower came along as we sat there so the poncho came out again and we huddled under it. When the rain stopped we headed back to the car park and were soon caught out again by a shower this time very heavy. Helen who had left the car unprepared and without poncho got a bit wet.

Dinning room in Blickling Hall NT Norfolk

Next stop was to be Blickling Hall, an Elizabethan building, with parks and gardens. The sky was grey when arrived so we did the tour of the house first. There are two levels to the house and it is typical of NT properties lots of old stuff, signs on chairs telling whether you can or cannot sit on them, and signs on other stuff telling you that you could not touch. I was impressed by the long room which apparently was build so they could exercise when the weather was inclement and later housed the best library in the National Trusts possession.

There were some impressive trees in the park land one in particular looked old and looked like it had spawned newer trees (albeit very old ones) where he limbs of the main tree (now a dead stump) had touched the ground and rooted. When the next shower came along we popped in for a coffee, and shared a granola cake, then we headed out and had a game of croquet on the lawn. Although we could not figure out the rules by reading the instructions, we made some up and Helen won.

View of a church in Norfolk

The gardens are extensive and there is some great topiary, but were not really that impressive from a bloom point of view I suspect because it is a bit early in the year, but you could see the potential. My guess is that in a months time the beds will look really impressive. We had a go on the hoopla game at Helen’s insistence, she claimed to be the Bucks under 10 champion, but in the end failed to score and so it was one all in the competitive stakes for the day.

In one of the side buildings there was an art exhibition and more interesting in another was details of the how the local land had been used during the war as an air base called RAF Oulton. It appeared to be mainly used for Boeing made bombers, which makes me suspect that it was somehow connected with the Americans  They also had a few planes painted black which were used for special ops.

We were back at the hut at about 17:30 and had enjoyed the day.