Day 44: English Coastal Path


Saturday 17th April 2021

Today miles: 24.4 Total miles: 689.2

After a restless nights sleep on the rear seat of my tiny car I was thankful to be stretching my legs once again. Just before leaving the car I quickly checked the bus timetable for today and made plans to board the local bus from Happisburgh back to Cromer, after about 12 miles or so of walking. More on that particular subject later.
I left Cromer town centre and returned to the point on the coast where I had left it yesterday. The town was quickly left behind as I hit the beach towards Overstrand less then two miles away.

The walk is nice with the sea to my left and the high sheer cliffs on my right. There’s also a long line of derelict wooden sea defences along Cromer beach to protect the cliffs from the erosive power of the North Sea. It’s just one line of sea defence amongst many that have been placed here over the last 200 years in an attempt to protect the coastline between Cromer and Lowestoft. I carried on past Overstrand and was forced to leave the beach due to the high tide cutting off access across the sand for the next short section. There was a short steep ascent back onto the cliff tops before the official Norfolk Coast Path then meandered its way through several small villages and towns before arriving in first Cliftonville and shortly after Mundesley. I passed the Co-Operative store in Cliftonville and picked up some extra provisions which I’d enjoy later. There’s more beach walking after Mundesley, I panicked a little when I saw the pea shingle but it was easy enough to avoid. I was expecting the gas distribution station near Paxton to ruin the views but I passed by without even noticing it was there.

Four miles later in Walcott I continued along the beach and I can’t pretend that I didn’t notice the warning sign notifying pedestrians of the damage to the beach ramp at Happisburgh. I should have heeded the sign but I’ll use the excuse of having been distracted by the great views. I happily ambled my way along the beach for about half a mile, with high cliffs still ever present on my right before I gave any thoughts to the warning notice and what it actually meant. I decided that turning back was a better option then continuing for three miles and finding myself stuck on the beach. I retraced my steps, then found my way to Happisburgh via the cliff top. I think the sign should have made it clearer that there’s no access to Happisburgh from the beach, just saying.

Now, this is where my original plans changed. Having wandered into the centre of Happisburgh I enquired into the location of the bus stop and was surprisingly informed that the buses don’t even run at weekends, damn, I should have read the timetable properly. Thankfully I’m carrying all the equipment I need to wildcamp so I decided just to carry on walking and see how far I get. The next section between Happisburgh and Eccles was straightforward and uneventful. After Eccles I had some minor difficulties following the Norfolk Coast Path as it wound its way through the beach dunes towards Sea Palling. The beach around Sea Palling was busy with families playing in the sand. I headed inland and soon found myself a friendly pub and an empty table. Minutes later I had a pint of beer in front of me, my first one since New Year’s Day. Twenty minutes later I had myself a second. I was chatting with some locals about the fortunes and misfortunes of Norwich City football club.

It was only 3.30pm and I felt pretty good so just kept on putting one foot in front of the other. I noted an official camp site near Warren farm and decided to head for there to check it out. The path was initially through fields and cleared undergrowth and then later along an excellent track adjacent to the dunes. The campsite at Warren Farm was clearly closed, there’s not a single tent, caravan or camper van in sight. I carried on for a further three miles and stopped twenty minutes short of Winterton-on-Sea. There’s a small wooded area just off the path with a flat area just about big enough for a one man tent, perfect. I made a cup of coffee, ate some noodles and waited until the sun started to disappear over the horizon before setting up my tent. It’s going to be cold tonight so I put on my merino night clothes and down jacket before climbing into my sleeping bag. That was a long day and I’m amazed at how good I still feel after more then 24 miles. No blisters and legs feel strong. My left ankle/shin are feeling a little painful.

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