40 miles of Sun, Sea and Sand

My aim was to walk the entire North Norfolk Coast for this training walk, Hunstanton to Cromer. This was to be a 2 day odyssey, I had a night of luxury booked in nouveau-posh Wells next-the-sea. Armed with maps, bananas and oat bars, and my new Meindl boots, I dumped the car at Hunstanton and cracked out the first few miles with ne’er a glance backwards. Except this:

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I pushed on, feeling like a god in my new boots. In factg, I thought I could walk on water. My illusions were seriously shattered as I strolled along Brancaster beach:

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This tidal creek was way too deep to cross, even for a real tough guy like me! I waited. I waited some more. I marked the dropping water level with razor clam shells. Some scoters flew close in shore, and I could see some velvets in amongst the commons, which was nice.

After 2 hours I thought I would have a crack at crossing. I took my kit off and waded in. Feck!!! It was so damn cold!! It wasn’t deep, but I nearly didn’t get across because of the cold. I lay gasping and yelling with pain on the sand on the far side, to the amusement of the well heeled dog walkers thereabouts.

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My road clear, I marched through Brancaster on to the wild and remote (and to me undiscovered) Deepdale marshes, where there were 4 red kites quartering the flooded water meadows. Never seen so many together in Norfolk. Awesome. The weather was perfect though a bit windy, thankfully at my back. The birches looked terrific in the low sunlight in Holkham Meals. The feet started to suffer later on in the day, and by the time I reached Wells I had handsome blisters on both little toes.

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A great evening of oats, beer and fish and chips revived me no end, and a hearty cooked breakfast the next morning set me on the road for day 2. I popped the blisters, and stretched the legs, and off I went. Stiffkey and Warham Greens are always brilliant, and today was no exception – I flew through them, and after 2 hours I was in Blakeney. There was still plenty of evidence of the storm surge around, with carpets of plant debris covering the Coastal path in places. At Stiffkey Fen, a kindly birder took pity on me and let me look through his scope at the black-throated and great northern divers feeding at the mouth of Blakeney Harbour. Soooperb!

I passed through Cley without too much fanfare (where were the crowds lining the streets?) and moved swiftly on to Salthouse, and then Kelling Quags where there were massive piles of storm detritus.

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My legs felt good, but as I walked I was conscious of the time, as I knew I would need to catch a bus back to Hunstanton. So, though (and I stress) I could have gone on and on and on, I stopped at Sheringham, with 40 miles completed in the 2 days, 3762 calories burned, 77,500 steps walked and 2 severely blistered little toes. But don’t feel sorry for me. My pain is completely self-inflicted. I am not getting shot, eaten and having my habitat degraded. I am not a turtle dove.

What have I learned this time? 1. Tide tables can be useful. 2. There will be pain. 3. I can do this. 4. When you are going for a wee in the wild, make sure you have really finished otherwise it can really ruin your day. 5. Keep eating and drinking. Fanta never tasted better. 6. Harden the f*ck up. 7. I can do this. Oh yes.

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