Day 40: English Coastal Path


Wednesday 22nd July 2020

Todays miles: 16.5    Total miles:  618.9

   I left the White Hart Hotel around 6.30am and set off towards the Alexandra Docks to once again pick up the ECP. Whilst walking around the docks I could see dozens of fishermen arriving, loading up their boats with supplies, ready for another tough working day out in the North Sea. As I walked along the Eastern side of the River Ouse I suddenly realised that what I originally thought was sand under my feet was actually millions of broken sea shells being used as aggregate for the path.
I quickly checked my map in anticipation of encountering some crazy, annoying restrictions/diversions. Shortly afterwards, as expected at Vinegar Middle I came across the sign warning me ‘No Access’. I hoped that it was still early enough in the morning to avoid interaction with anybody and I decided to ignore the sign. As I was waving towards the fishing boats I spotted a herd of about 20+ cows out on the salt marsh, unfortunately they had also spotted me. They initially started to walk slowly towards the sea embankment but then stepped it up to a gallop in my general direction.
   I also decided to shift into a higher gear and managed to get beyond them as they fast approached the bottom of the embankment. Thankfully they stopped and made no attempt to climb up the grass. The next three miles walking through the North Wootton Marsh was uneventful with only the occasional wildfowlers houseboat to look at. I then saw a second, larger herd of cows on the salt marshes as I approached the Sandringham Estate. These beasts were further out too sea then the previous herd and thankfully they didn’t pay me any attention.
There was a wooden lattice gate marking the boundary of the Sandringham Estate but surprisingly not a single warning sign prohibiting access. Less then 15 minutes later I passed through a second gate, exiting the Royal estate. A good day then got even better. The ECP now goes into the RSPB reserve at Snettisham Beach, with the saltmarshes and mudflats on my left and the lagoons on the right. Both these locations are well populated with a variety of wading birds.  I took my first proper break here watching the ducks, knots, oystercatchers, plovers and curlews feeding on the protein rich marshes. After leaving the reserve there was an enormous increase in the numbers of people walking along the coast. I’d seen very few people walking along the coast recently and now it’s crowded again. I stopped for another long break near Heacham grabbing myself a hot drink and sugary snack from a beachside kiosk. I also checked the bus timetable and targeted the 1310hrs bus back to Kings Lynn. I had given myself more then an hour to walk the final 2 miles to Hunstanton, therefore I just strolled along the busy beach. I seriously liked the look of Hunstanton and I’m really looking forward to returning in either August or September and spending a lot more time there. 



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