Day 43: English Coastal Path


Friday 16th April 2021

Today miles: 21.3 Total miles: 664.8

I initially woke about 5am but then managed to snooze for another hour before stirring. It looked to be another beautiful morning and after preparing my coffee and porridge I just sat down and watched the birds having their own breakfast in the salt marshes. I was back on the English/Norfolk Coast Path before 7am and reached the edge of Stiffkey less then an hour later. I greet the early morning dog walkers and the occasional jogger who quickly passed me by.

The information board at Stiffkey tells me to look out for some interesting old relics along the next part of the coastal path. including an old rusting sewage pipe and an unusual pill box. I sadly! missed the rusty pipe but managed to find the pill box. Apparently the origins of this tiny concrete structure are debatable, it’s either WW1 or WW2. I chose not to linger around Stiffkey for too long and moved along quickly, aware that it’s still early and I’m unlikely to find anybody serving hot food. The next four miles towards Blakeney were a mix of flood embankments, sand dunes and excellent tracks. Blakeney’s an interesting little town. There’s lots of old buildings along the edge of the creek, many built of brick and flint stone which is common in Norfolk. Just as interesting to me was the food van sitting in the corner of the car park on the side of the coastal path.

After a quick check of the menu I ordered my standard fare, a large white coffee and bacon/egg bap. I then sat on the edge of the path, removed my shoes and enjoyed my well deserved calories.
I didn’t rush myself but did eventually replace my footwear and move off heading for Cley-next-the-Sea. The circular track between Blakeney and Cley is a particularly busy place this time of day and I encounter lots of other people during the next two miles. There’s another attractive windmill on the approach into Cley. This one is now a modern hotel and restaurant (currently closed due to COVID). A short time later I reach the coast at Cley Eye and initially enjoyed the walk along the pea shingle beach with the waves lapping at my feet. Unfortunately the enjoyment didn’t last that long I’ve walked along pea shingle before but never for several continuous miles. It’s fairly exhausting to walk along with my foot sinking into the small stones at every single step. I was so relieved to reach the grassy cliffs on the approach into Weybourne.

I took a long break to take in some water and recover from the last two hour slog fest. In contrast the excellent track towards Sheringham was an absolute joy. The views were great in every direction and the walking was easy. I’m not one for shopping so I quickly grabbed myself a coffee, a magnum ice lolly and a can of fizzy pop from a kiosk and returned to the coastal path. As I sat down I realised I’d left my walking pole propped against the wall at the kiosk, luckily it was still where I had left it and it was gratefully recovered a few minutes later. This wouldn’t be the only time I misplaced my walking pole today.
The path between Sheringham and Cromer was excellent and uneventful, a mixture of grassy cliff top and a short stretch of road walking. I arrived in Cromer around 5.00pm and left the coastal path to head into the town centre. After arriving at the bus station I check the timetable. I had just missed the hourly coast hopper bus (CH2) so decided to grab something proper to eat at a nearby cafe. After jumping onto the bus I finally arrived back in Brancaster after two bus journeys and then immediately drove back to Cromer.

I had originally intended walking a short distance out of Cromer to once again wild camp but the sun was already going down and I didn’t want to camp on the Cromer golf course. I instead ended up sleeping inside of my car, not a particularly easy thing to do inside a Toyota Aygo. Generally a superb long day of walking, if you ignore the shingle trauma it made for a beautiful route.

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