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





Day four

Day Four

Time : 10.44 a.m. – yet another delayed departure as we nipped into Lidl where we bought dried mango, mixed nuts and a hammock (mad not to at just £6.99).

Starting point : The Old Hall Hotel, Caster-on-Sea 
IMG_3722Sad to go really, grown quite fond of the old place what with the mobile homes parked up out front and omelette cut up into tiny, tiny pieces masquerading as scrambled eggs.

Route : Caister-on-Sea to Sea Palling and don’t spare the horses/blisters

New drone footage of the walk:

Bit more of a nip in the air this morning so Whitts decided to pack ‘longs’ as well as shorts but we were laughing in the face of that decision later, as once again the factor 15 was put to use. Had quite a firm talking to about the state of my feet and appropriate footwear etc. before we set off. Fair enough. Although this came from someone wearing red sandals. However, without the attentions of Dr Whitts and the box of Compeed plasters I suspect Day Four may have been a non-starter for me.

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First surprise of the day (after the scrambled eggs) was coming across the extremely grand and rather beautiful memorial in Caister churchyard to the nine crew of the lifeboat ‘Beauchamp’, drowned in November 1901 in a freakishly grim accident. Then off out along the dunes and down onto the sands up towards California (always wanted to go there….)

The aim was to walk the five miles to Winterton-on-Sea then stop for lunch at the Fishermen’s Rest public house. Quite a big ask I thought, but by jove we did it. Pausing only to empty vast amounts of sand from my trainers and to catch breath as we put the world to rights for a solid two hours. Noticed our first lifeguard on duty too, athletic young man at Hemsby #boredsenseless.

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Lunch at Winterton was a flipping treat despite being served by surly barman. “We’ve just walked five miles up from Caister” announced Whitts cheerfully at the bar as a conversation opener. “I walk five miles every day in this pub” replied the barman. I wanted to do something bad to him with my car keys so we took our lunches outside. HUGE crab salads, with shrimp buttered new potatoes and pints of cider. That did the trick.


Closer inspection of my feet revealed I was now up to five blisters so Dr. Whitts swung into action. I commented that it was a good job that I had brought a long sleeved top as I think it was Ernest Shackleton who ripped the sleeves off his jacket with which to bind his poor feet. Whitts thought I had very little grounds for drawing a comparison between myself and Shackleton. I let that pass as I knew I was being very brave and she was probably still smarting from the barman’s comment.

The original plan was to meet up with Merty with the support vehicle (and support dogs) at some point on this last stretch between Winterton and Sea Palling, once we’d given him our timings. After 6 texts and 4 phone calls it became apparent that he had set off 3 hours early and rendezvous eventually took place at Horsey Dunes. Before that we walked through some pretty lovely dune scapes and marvelled at the flora and fauna of the marshes behind the dunes (we’d had two pints of cider).

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IMG_3743The elusive seals finally put in an appearance on this stretch of the coast and we even came across a very beautiful, big eyed seal pup on the beach waiting for its mum to return. Blimey they’re vulnerable. Even made me stop whining about my blisters for five minutes. Sea Palling finally reached at 5.15 p.m. with another 12.9 miles under our belts. Very chuffed. Merty also very chuffed as his car park ticket was due to run out at 5.20 pm and he really didn’t want to get clamped…..

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The map continues to take shape, although when viewed as a proportion of the coastline it’s rather daunting: The Big Walk

Day Three

Date : August 4th 2015

Time : 9.44 a.m. (Planned 9.30 departure slightly delayed by cappuccino ordering at The Lighthouse Diner and debate over how Whitts could procure an Americano. Two Espressos poured into one mug solved that one).

Starting point : The Lighthouse Diner, Lowestoft.

Guest walker of the day : Mrs Helen Taylor  


 Very chirpy outlook as less windy and much warmer than forecast. Headed out to the beach past strange wooden constructions, various suggestions as to their purpose ranged from large hurdles (?) to fish drying poles. Information board explained that they had been part of the rope making industry hereabouts. Now you know. First information board had “I’m going to smash your face Bruce, stay away from Stella” written across it. So Bruce now you know too. (Names have been changed to protect their identities).

Lovely, sunny morning. Whitts pointed out that we would probably see a lot of seals en route today. Within minutes we had seen one. On closer inspection it turned out to be a football. We didn’t see any seals for the rest of the day. Or footballs.

The inevitable detour due to coastal erosion came upon us at Corton. Whitts struck out with happy disregard for various “No trespassing” signs but intervened when Helen suggested scaling the semi-eroded cliff face. “Laws are made to be broken” announced Whitts “but I am risk averse”. This took everyone by surprise.  

 Stopped for small refreshment break close to Hopton where Whitts and Mrs Taylor threw caution to the wind and decided to have a dip. First injury sustained by Whitts when she jarred her back descending the breakwater at speed in her haste to go swimming. This is just one of the reasons why I don’t go swimming off the British coast.




Great Yarmouth was our lunch stop. Headed up along the River Yare to sit on a concrete lump for our picnic and watch a very large orange ship arrive at some speed. Helen had forgotten her fork and Whitts had no packed lunch at all (risk averse ? ) so received food donations until tuna mayonnaise sandwiches could be purchased on the front. Walking through Yarmouth we noted that there were very few people striding with purpose and even less women of a certain age carrying back packs. We were attracting quizzical looks. Not simply due to our extraordinary glamour. Stumbling upon the very beautiful Fishermen’s Hospital was a bit of a find though.


 After lunch it was a relatively leisurely three mile stroll along the sandy marshes up to Caister on Sea. Holiday caravan parks were thick on the ground here. Saw a very beautiful but now derelict boating lake and coffee house from the 1920s/1930s. Could wax lyrical here but won’t bore you. Sedate last stretch as blister making its presence felt for me and Mrs Taylor was hobbling a tad with her dodgy knee. Tranquility only broken by some insensitive soul phoning Mrs Taylor on her mobile. Realised that it was in fact me phoning her by accident from my pocket.

 Arrived at the Old Hall Hotel, Caister at 4.45 pm with 13.6 miles under our belts. Swimming pool, jacuzzi and steam room was a bit of a bonus as was the round of gin and tonics in the bar afterwards. I managed to throw an entire gin and tonic all over myself and it was probably very timely that Mr Taylor appeared to collect Mrs Taylor as I fear we were a little over tired and our motor skills were beginning to go. Surprisingly good night’s sleep on variety of not so bouncy beds…… 

Detailed planning for days three and four

Senior Phillips was brought in for logistics:

Daddy Phillips has been looking at the map. 12 miles on from Lowestoft pier is almost directly behind Great Yarmouth race course – yikes. We could attempt to push on through to Caister where there’s a car park by the Life Boat Station, that would be 13ish miles rather than 12. Reckon we can do that don’t you ? Lunch could be interesting, reckon we’ll be at Hopton or Gorleston….
We’re back on the 24th so have a week to finalise all the madness then.
Lots of love,
Phillips x

Phillips had a lovely time in Paxos. There was a then a slight hiatus whilst we waited to see whether Mertz’s foot was broken or not, had it been broken we were looking at 6 weeks in plaster, which would have meant postponement but fortunately:

The diagnosis is a tendon tear, had it snapped altogether it could have been worse than a break. If the diagnosis is correct then the momentary swelling, heat etc. was from internal bleeding. Prognosis is good if he does as he is told, so he needs to be watched like a hawk: rest this week, short walks only with a bespoke support under his arch. Then if that helps he can go for longer walks next week when he is on holiday, and even play a bit of golf. He will be given exercises to stretch the tendon slowly. Cycling is encouraged.
He seems to have confidence in the clinic and the podiatrist, who specialises in sports injuries, so this means he will listen to him. Perhaps I could clone him and use him as a translator.
Then we got into planning proper after an impromptu beach picnic with Mrs. Taylor, who has decided to join us for day three and now we have a plan proper:
Mrs. Taylor
(although it nearly didn’t happen as the first email when awry)
I just sent this to myself. Idiot. x
Thank you for impromptu hosting of small swimming party yesterday. Your beach hut is a veritable treasure trove – what with Marvel, dog food and tiny drinks table I think you pretty much had it covered, thank you. Now, to be on the safe side I’m reckoning an hour and a quarter for me to reach Caister so shall I meet you there at 0830. 0900 departure from Lowey Pier with Mrs Taylor (and packed lunches on board ?). Maybe we  could garner day four lunch en route. Will remember to bring hair band, sunglasses and some sort of goose fat for my face this time.
Really looking forward to it,
Phillips x
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Philiiiips! SO good to see you, that’s what beach huts are for. I suspect I should get a new tub of Marvel though, I think the sell by date was 2013, but as I haven’t heard that any of you were sick it might still be OK.

Having looked at the forecast it seems goose fat essential, full sun and wind in the morning, with rain possible by 4pm.
Now, here’s a new possible plan bearing Mrs Taylor in mind… would this mean more miles for you?
You drive to Lowie rather than Caister, Mertz drops me at Mrs Taylor’s and we drive to Lowie to meet you, here I’m assuming she’s getting a lift from Mr Taylor, but this is because they said they only had one car at the moment…
We walk to Caister where we have no car because we actually don’t need one here, and it means we aren’t doing the return journey for no reason.  I’m assuming Mr Taylor is expecting to pick Mrs Taylor up somewhere en route or there, is that so?
Wednesday we walk to Sea Palling where Mertz meets us en route, (BUT NOT VERY FAR) and we walk on together to his car (NOT THE OLD ALFA) and he drives us back to Lowie, where you pick up you car.

Just perusing the map. Do you think it would be better to start at Lowestoft Ness instead of the pier? It looks like there’s a car park there and I quite like the thought of starting at a landmark again, what do you reckon ? The only problem with no car at Caister is that we’ll have to carry our overnight stuff in our back packs which is not really ideal. Looks like the only really tricky bit is going to be navigating our way around Great Yarmouth…
Speak later,
Phillips x
Good point re overnight stuff. What are Mrs. Taylor’s plans?
At the moment she’s meeting us at Lowestoft Pier at 9 a.m., being dropped off and collected by Mr Taylor. Just think Lowestoft Ness might be a better starting/meeting point.
It’s a bit rough round there, factories etc, how about meeting where we actually finished…! There’s loads of parking there.
To be frank, the less we do around Lowestoft the better. Looks like there’s a car park further along North Beach and then we can just step on out up past Pleasurewood Hills and on up to Corton
OK, although the bit between Kirkley and the pier is probably the nicest bit of Lowie!

Lets meet here: The Lightouse Diner
I’ll plot the map on the Big Walk Map.
We are taking the Not Quite as Shit Alfa Romeo to the garage first thing tomorrow and Mertz now has an ankle brace thing as well and the insert for his shoe so is planning to meet us for part of Day 4 at Winterton for part of the walk, then drive up to Sea Palling or Happisburgh to meet us and bring us back to Caister. The foot is improving, but I’m hoping he won’t overdo it…