Planning to get back on our feet

Planning links;

Railway line walk   British Walks   Griffmonster    Coastal Walker

We’re back, after a hiatus of nearly two years. This is a fiddly walk, and not truly coastal due to private ownership of land, so we are taking views from experienced walkers of the area, and including a disused railway line, once used by the ‘Royal personages’ from Lynn to Sandringham.

Suitably fuelled with caffeine we scoured the maps and are now planning to tackle Old Hunstanton to Dersingham on the first day, which will be day ten, making use of the disused railway line. On day eleven the idea is to make the most of the newly qualified driver in the family and simply walk as far as we can get. This may mean Kings Lynn or perhaps a little further, but Phillips drew the line at aiming for Boston.

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Day 9. Brancaster to Old Hunstanton.

Date : May 22nd
Walkers : Phillips, Whitts, Mrs Biddle & Mrs T
Distance : 10 miles

Weather forecast – due to hit 21c today. Mrs Biddle wasn’t allowed to remove her shirt today.

Very aware that Whitts hadn’t managed her sea swim yesterday evening nor indeed before breakfast so it was decided that a swim break was to be taken during today’s ramble. Swimsuits and towels were packed with Phillips saying “over my dead body”. Tip top breakfast although strangely fizzy fruit salad and then all set for a 9.30/10.00 departure. Just had to wait for Mrs T……….


At the risk of waxing too lyrical this was a cracking morning. Heading inland behind the village of Titchwell the lanes were thick with cow parsley and the sun was out. Marvellous. You could tell we were in twitching territory as telescopic lenses were thick on the ground behind the hedges here. Arrived in Thornham where Mrs T was escorted safely past the shops and provided us with the best comedy moment of the day. Beautiful village though.


Back out into the sea air as we followed Whitts out along the decking through the reed beds towards Holme Dunes. Hot now and she could feel the pull of the sea. Coming over the dunes onto the sand we could have been abroad, maybe not the caribbean but defo somewhere mediterranean. We are bloody lucky to live here.

Not a soul around either (apart from when attempting to change into swimsuits). Phillips regretted her rash decision (not for the first time) and borrowed some boy’s lycra pants and spare t-shirt from Mrs Biddle and joined the swimmers. It was worth the expletives. Suitably refreshed we settled down to lunch which Mrs T had brought with her. We took back every jibe on her tardiness. She had done us proud. Bento boxes and tins of Gordon’s Gin and Tonic. We LOVE her. One of the best lunches I’ve had for a long time, and in some of the best company.


From Holme it was a stroll along the sand to Old Hunstanton which we could see in the distance looking slightly Edwardian and with a few small people making the most of the sunshine. Accompanied at varying points on this stretch by seabirds which were properly flocking.


Our arrival was perfectly timed (obvs) to catch the Coasthopper Bus back to Brancaster, once we had helped Mrs Biddle off the unfeasibly high bench.


Marvellous, marvellous day. Whitts and I agreed that this had been the best days’ walking yet – perfect weather conditions, great company and seamless from start to finish. Worth waiting for then. As the Norfolk Coast Path grinds to a halt in Hunstanton I wonder if we’ll be so buoyant after the next chunk. Still, what could possibly go wrong….

Day 8. Wells-next-the-sea to Brancaster.

Date : May 21st 2017.
Walkers : Phillips, Whitts & Mrs Biddle
Distance : 12 miles

Well, it’s been a while. Poor Whitts had been offered many and varied diagnoses for the C.B.F. but had eventually taken matters into her own hands (and feet) and felt that she was match fit. Agreeing that we had all slightly over-egged it last time we had planned a more sedate pace. Managing expectations is a useful marketing phrase that could be employed here…

IMG_0163A couple of potential walkers had fallen by the way-side (Rachael-Mary & Mrs T) but we had a new addition to the team in the shape of Mrs Biddle who was dead keen (she’d bought a pac-a-mac for the occasion) and set Whitts up a treat with a reviving coffee at her lovely cafe in Framlingham: The Common Room frequented by celebrities and middle-aged walkers alike.
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The rendezvous point was the car park of The Ship Hotel, Brancaster. CCTV would have captured three over-excited women of a certain age comparing footwear, eating crisps for breakfast, checking maps and exchanging bin liners full of second-hand clothes in no particular order. The taxi driver waiting to drive us to Wells-next-the-sea was also lucky enough to witness all of the above.IMG_0160
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Heading off from the boating lake and through the pine woods of Holkham we spent the first hour or so lamenting recently departed dear friends and discussing other rubbish that loved ones are having to deal with. Mrs B lightened the mood however with possibly the best fart story ever told.


Cutting up through the dunes and out onto the beach we decided a water/energy ball break was in order (don’t ask). It was due to reach 20c today so Mrs B threw caution to the wind and stripped down to her vest – in hindsight this proved to be an error but when has common sense ever got in the way of exhibitionism. Anyway we were far too busy admiring the scenery along this stretch of the coast and heaving a sigh of relief that the naturists were conspicuous by their absence.


Whitts pointed out that we were frighteningly ahead of schedule so as we headed inland on the boardwalk we decided to have a lengthy lunchbreak at Burnham Overy Staithe overlooking the tiny quay. It was at this point that Mrs B left us in absolutely no doubt whatsover of her views on Falafel but we all decided that tins of Gordon’s Gin and Tonic were right up there with the invention of the wheel and the first steam-powered locomotive.


After lunch really did prove to be a gentle saunter. Back out to the coast through the reed marsh that stretches out beyond Burnham Norton stopping only for a brief communal comfort. Sadly this ended up with us losing a) our dignity and b) Mrs Biddle’s reading glasses.

The afternoon did turn into an episode of Springwatch with Mrs Biddle pulling out a pair of binoculars from her bra, Whitts advised us that we had spotted Shell ducks, Little Egrets, Avocets, Herring gulls, Black-headed gulls, a Kestrel, Swallows, House Martins, a pair of Marsh Harriers, something that could’ve been a crane or a heron with something huge in its mouth, Lapwings, Oyster Catchers, a very noisy Moorhen and turns, but I’m pretty sure I only saw a largish duck. We carried on the coast path along Deepdale Marsh and tucked in behind Brancaster Staithe as the temperature began to hot up. We had a view of sails out on the water on our right and people’s back gardens running down to the marsh on our left, I preferred spying into the latter.
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Last stretch now, Brancaster Staithe to Brancaster. Stopping briefly to investigate the roman fort of Branodvnvm (basically just a field) through a very tight gate for women of a certain age with rucksacks on their backs, and to admire Labour H.Q.


Arriving at The Ship at 4 pm we decided that a bottle of more than luke warm prosecco that had been heating up in the back of my car all day wouldn’t really do the trick. The hard-boiled eggs that had been left behind were frankly a health issue so we cut straight to the chase.


I managed to draw the long straw on the bed front and ended up in the double room. Yes. Whitts and Mrs Biddle were in the twin. After watching ‘Grantchester’ – no sneering, we retired for the night. I managed a whopping 8.5 hours of solid slumber. Whitts and Mrs Biddle managed about 4 hours in total due to the church clock chiming every hour, a touch of sunburn and a strange under floor heating thingy that had turned their room into a furnace. Result.

Days 8 and 9 still looming

img_1086The aim was to have been walking today, Sunday November 27th, but no. Cooking paella and reading Sunday papers instead, having just completed a jaunty 4 and a half miles to Dunwich.

The idea was to squeeze in one more weekend’s worth of walking before the end of the year – it was always going to be a gamble what with the short hours of daylight and tricky weather. We got off to a good start and, herding cats, I banged off the following message to the five possible walkers:

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The route from Wells to Brancaster, with an overnight, then Brancaster to Old Hunstanton, will have to wait though.

It’s not often we give in, but his time Whitts needed a serious talking to about undertaking the next leg of The Big Walk when her foot still looks like a slab of corned beef, and so finally she sent this message to the team:

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With a weekend’s worth of child/dog/cat care in place it seemed churlish to stay at home. So here I am in Suffolk again. We felt we had to remind ourselves that we could still put one foot in front of the other and enlisted Mertz to pick us up at the other end in case. We may not have had our three planned human companions, but the three four legged ones did their best to stand in.

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Hiatus status post from Whitt

We’ve really done a good job of buggering up the schedule between us. First Phillips did something very nasty to a tendon (more about which when she returns from Paradise, her current residence).Paradise

I’m in what I now understand is called a ‘space boot’. A genius thing that many footballers are well acquainted with, as I understand what I have is a footballing injury. Cue lots of jokes about Euro-football stuff that I really don’t care to engage with.

Diagnosis: broken 5th metatarsal, damaged ankle ligaments and a sodding great haematoma  on the sole of my foot. Strangely it’s haematoma that has caused the most pain so far. Treatment: rest, elevation, 5/6 weeks of space boot, then gradual rehab. i.e. not the planned walk round the West Norfolk coastline. Cause: these bastards. Note no banister.IMG_8291

Not sure how many I fell down, it was all a bit of a blur, suffice to say I was lucky that those doors were open as I barrelled through them and then had to be scraped up from the floor and off to A&E. The last four weeks have been pretty dire, I’m not used to not being able to do stuff, like swim in the sea every morning, walk, drive, dig the garden or be positive. But the two godsends have been my kind and caring friends, and my Mother’s mobility scooter. And no, I don’t care that I look like a granny, I’ve been able to get the dogs out and about and even managed to get to the polling station.

The plan was to have reached Kings Lynn round about now, so we may have to consider an Autumn walking block to catch up on lost time, and help the general rehab. In the meantime Phillips is lying in the sun, in what appears to be the most beautiful place in Normandy, and I’m discovering that spending your day off weeding the paving in a space boot is foolish. Ants love paving slabs and get very cross when you remove the grass sandwiched between them. Then they mount an attack on the thing they see as responsible, or perhaps an alternative residence. The space boot. I’d really rather be in France.

I’ve been keeping a photo diary of my escapades, although we didn’t get one of the buggy stuck in the sand when I over estimated it’s off-road capabilities.

 

Day Seven. Blakeney to Wells-next-the-sea or further….

Date : Monday April 25th 2016

Walkers : Phillips,Whitts, Mrs Taylor (if match fit)

Guest walkers : Mr Taylor & Bronte, T Mermagen & Mango (not the fruit), Ma & Pa Phillips for tiny last bit.

Distance : 8.4 miles

Eggs BeneIMG_7713dict, Eggs Royale and Vegetarian Cooked Breakfast. Delicious but defeated us. Thereby the conversation over breakfast went along the lines of why we had less of an appetite despite all the exercise oh and whether Mrs T should walk today. Mrs T is a game girl and with instructions to Mr Taylor to bring a walking stick and meet us at Morston we ventured forth.

All very pleased to be joined by T – especially with those dodgy hips. So what with them, Mrs T’s triband, a strange tendon thing going on for Whitts and a twinging achilles heel for me we could easily have been mistaken for some kind of self-help group. Mr Taylor and Bronte arrived keen as mustard just after we set out from Blakeney and the walking stick was a great bonus and something that we felt we could share.IMG_7606

Morston was soon upon us where Mr Taylor was momentarily distracted by the thought of pea and mint soup before he headed off in the support vehicle to wait for us at Stiffkey where any of the injured could avail themselves of the Volvo. It was going to be a full car at this rate. By now I had loosened my laces and was, as Whitts said, hobbling. Still, no time to waste as the forecast was for rain and strong winds heading in after lunch. Mr Taylor galvanised us into speeding up by hiding in the long grass and ambushing us as we staggered into view. What larks.IMG_7624

The clouds were looming as we trudged the last mile into Wells and as our proposed rendezvous with my mum and dad was the car park on the beach we realised that we may have slightly miscalculated. Our happy reunion with Mr Taylor (who had been trying out the sausage rolls at the beach cafe) and my folks was consequently marred by driving rain and strong gusts of wind. By the time we reached our destination we were all walking at a jaunty angle. Walking being a very loose term.

IMG_7598As Whitts said: “God didn’t we have such a good time ? And aren’t we blessed with lovely friends ?” Couldn’t have put it better myself.

 

 

 

 

Day Six. Cromer to Blakeney

Date : Sunday April 24th 2016

Walkers : Whitts and Phillips (one faller who will be travelling by bus)

Up and at ’em this morning but very slowly. A gentle swim followed but flipping lovely breakfast but clearly our plans were going to have to change. Dr Whitts had diagnosed a tri-band injury in Mrs Taylor’s left leg for which the treatment is REST. After negotiating with the hotel (which didn’t take long as they’re so lovely, I may have mentioned this before) it was decided that Mrs T would stay on at the hotel until lunchtime and then catch the coasthopper bus to Blakeney where hopefully she could check in slightly early at The White Horse and await the arrival of the hard core. There was a vague attempt to organise a rendezvous en route – possibly Mrs Taylor could meet us at the pub in East Runton where she said could wait for us “outside, with a pint of crisps” but we declined as it sounded too complicated and frankly a bit odd.

IMG_7551Just the two of us then. Ignoring the snow (yes) and picking up tubs of salad and smoothies (yes) for lunch we struck out through Cromer and set our sights on Sheringham via the caravan parks of East and West Runton. As is our way, we put the world to rights en route and picked up the pace until we hit Beeston Bump. Over taken at this point by a group of MAMILs on bikes we girded our loins and made the ascent. Totally worth it. Made sure that we took lots of photos for Mrs Taylor for a spot of nostalgia and then received a text from her saying that we could walk round it rather than over it if we couldn’t face it. Right.IMG_7528

Sheringham was so lovely as were the murals along the coastal walk route. Dived out of the rain near the boating lake and then set our sights on Weybourne, traversing the Sheringham Golf Course where we became temporarily six years old watching the steam train puffing back and forth. More skylarks accompanied us here as did a drone which suddenly appeared just over our heads, military intelligence or my mum checking to see if I had enough layers on ?

Weybourne for lunch where, inevitably, some blister care had to be undertaken. Shingle (our least favourite thing) was back on the agenda so the next mile or so past the Muckleburgh Collection was a tactical meander avoiding as much of the darned stuff as possible.IMG_7565

Salthouse and we headed inland. Marvellous. Stopped at the Dun Cow for a half of cider. Even better. On the home straight now. Toddled through Cley where we saw a wedding at the windmill (how very nice) and took the executive decision to cut out the last stretch of shingle/marsh and follow the road into Blakeney where we had our very own welcoming committee. Aside from the fact that we had missed dear old Mrs T we agreed that this had been our best day’s walking yet.

We had managed to book ourselves our very own tiny house to sleep in, or so it appeared. Even better that we had our own front door that opened straight onto the street although it was generally felt that next time we should try to remember to lock it and indeed close it when retiring for bed. A strange kind of delirium had set in due possibly to fatigue (us two) or lack of social interaction (Mrs T) so that after supper and in bed by 10 there were still japes to be had which would have been amusing had it not been for the fact that photographs were taken and Mrs T’s lack of familiarity with just who receives her photos when she sends them using Whatsapp.

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Day Five (an eventful one) Sea Palling to Cromer

Date : Saturday April 23rd 2016

Walkers : Phillips, Whitts & Mrs Taylor.

Guest Walkers : Sez Hamilton (plus Bailey and Indie) Dan the Wandering Mod

This was to be our longest walk yet. A total of 17 miles to Cromer or 15.4 miles to Overstrand if you bailed early (more of that later). Brief gathering in Sea Palling car park for the obligatory runners and riders photo followed by nip into public loo where I established once and for all, should any of you be in any doubt, that it is impossible to turn round in a cubicle if you are wearing a backpack.IMG_7428

Following days of warm spring sunshine this week the forecast for today was “cold northerly winds with light rain and occasional wintry showers”. Oh goodie. Both myself and Mrs Taylor had taken the preventative measure of wearing plasters before setting out in order to avoid a repeat of last time’s blistergate. Whitts wasn’t wearing sandals this time and both Sez and Dan had very professional looking footwear so all promised well. Bailey and Indie opted for no shoes at all.

It was a breezy and chilly walk along the top of the dunes past Eccles to Happisburgh where we were drawn like magnets by the sight of the stripey loveliness of the lighthouse. Even without binoculars we spied a darkly threatening cloud heading our way across the horizon but by a quirky twist of fate we made it to a strange open-fronted military shelter on the cliff top before the hail and wind arrived. Although the graffiti lent it an urban jungle feel we surmised that it was summat to do with the war, whatever it was we were very glad it was there.

Lunch was taken on the wooden groynes near Mundesley where much fun was to be had at the expense of Whitts’ home made energy balls (although next day I would be gagging for one myself) and Bailey clarified a point on which we had all been pondering i.e. do lurchers like quinoa salad. The answer was a resounding yes.IMG_7473

Mundesley was where we jettisoned our first guest walker of the day : Sez. Her husband Tom and son Joe were waiting for us in clear admiration/disbelief. Tom commented on the professional hiking look of the group, until he saw me. Very sad to see Sez go.

Headed more inland for the next section where this next leg was noteable for its caravan parks, huge coastal erosion (where we nearly lost Mrs T and Dan over the edge when their concentration temporarily lapsed during a discussion about Tamla Motown and shared headphones) but more worryingly an increasingly pronounced limp from Mrs Taylor.IMG_7490

By the time we reached Overstrand it was very clear that Mrs Taylor would have to call it a day. Whitts took charge of operations and managed to secure a pick up from The Grove Hotel (we love them) and I felt it my duty to accompany the invalid thereby sacrificing the last mile and a half. Whitts and Dan left on us a bench, informing the man on the other end of the phone that “You can’t miss them, they’re sitting on a bench looking very sorry for themselves, wearing bobble hats”.IMG_7498

The hotel chef turned up in his sporty number and whisked us off. It was only a matter of half an hour or so before we were joined by the remainder of the party for some tip top Black Shuck Gin in the lounge. We said our goodbyes to Dan who headed off to the train station as he had better things to do frankly.

Supper was delicious as was the red wine but I think we all agreed that we had hit an all time low when Mrs Taylor had to borrow a croquet mallet to lean on to make it back to the family room. I had to lean on Whitts but for other reasons.IMG_7658

 

Planning complete (Whitt)

Mrs Taylor is now confirmed for the next 2.5 day slug, so we have been able to complete the necessary bookings for accommodation, lifts, meals etc. and we think we might have her hooked. She actually left saying she was looking forward to the walk as much as she’d look forward to a weekend in Paris! Has she forgotten what we put her through…?IMG_3667.jpg

The Wandering Mod may or may not join us over the weekend, depending on his training. He’s had a couple of set backs, including a tendon hernia that had him grounded for a while and, frankly, still looks a bit owie.

First hotel booked : it’s a bit posher than we have been used to. This is Mrs Taylor’s influence, no doubt, she’s got class and has travelled. She also reminded me that we needed to have something a little more stylish than shorts to wear for supper, when I asked why we couldn’t carry everything. I’d counted on packing clean T-shirts, underwear and a toothbrush, and thought we could share face cream and toothpaste.

Day Five  : Sea Palling to Cromer

Rendezvous Sea Palling car park with packed lunches containing light food (rice cakes, candy floss etc ) and head off towards the coastal erosion/coastal path with four additional walkers (human and canine). Happisburgh, Baction and Mundesley are on the itinerary before slipping into something more comfortable at The Grove Hotel in Cromer. We have a family room booked; large double bedroom downstairs with two singles in the roofspace, complete with balcony, from which we can chuck stuff at whoever gets the long straw. Hopefully then enjoy a delightful meal in our finery.

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Day six – leave after a full and filling breakfast, no later than 10:00, as we could then make it as far as Cley before we need more food. If not there is Cookies at Salthouse famous for their shellfish, but a slight detour. The last section of this day is very winding and follows creeks and riverbanks inland to Cley on the newly refurbished North Norfolk Coastal path. Again, there will be checks made before the date, as there has been flooding in the area recently. The White Horse Hotel is our home for the night in Blakeney, and is run by Adnams, so we can guarantee a really decent gin here.

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Day seven – leave after a light breakfast in case we make it as far as the Victoria Pub in Holkham. If not, it’s the shellfish stall in Wells.

I’ve just received confirmation from our posh hotel, with this attached, oooooooh, breakfast in bed!!!!!

Our double AA rosette restaurant under head chef Michael West serves the best local produce, with fruit and vegetables straight from the garden.  If you have not already done so we strongly advise booking your table for dinner as early as possible, especially for weekends as residents are not guaranteed tables.   Please note that some dishes require up to forty-eight hours’ notice – see our website or call for details.

 For breakfast you can choose from smoked salmon and eggs, waffles with best Icarus Hines’ back bacon and maple syrup, Bray’s Cottage pork pies or of course our legendary full English, and you can even treat yourself with breakfast in bed.

 Don’t forget your swimming costume for our indoor heated pool, and if you want to build up an appetite for dinner you can walk through the grounds into Warren Woods and up to the cliffs and the beach beyond.

Planning for days 5/6/7 (Whitt)

This time it’s complicated. Two long days and one short one, guest walkers, dogs, grandparents looking after teenagers, transportation and overnights all needing to be juggled.

Feet are being prepared too. Phillips has been instructed to buy and break-in new shoes over the next month, and has promised to make the commitment. The fibromastosis and nerve ‘entrapment’ that have given me trouble over the last six months are being treated with massage and exercises and the podiatrist has given me permission to walk in sandals, although Phillips has drawn the line at socks and sandals. We’ll see.

Mertz put the fear into me with talk of coastal erosion and cliffs again, but then, just as he was drifting off to sleep he suddenly said “Actually that’s somewhere else altogether”. We will check with the locals first. This is the great thing about the first few days of the walk being near to home. Goodness knows how we will fare in Yorkshire or the Lake district, where the coastal path is not yet secure and we know no one.

Time to bring out the cashew nuts. Map

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