15 September 2023

  • Date:                           15 September 2023
  • Walk Participants:     Lynne Burge, Sandy Arpino & Lesley Stapley
  • Distance:                     17 Miles

Day 4 Blakeney to Cromer, 17 miles

What a day of contrasts! From the boats of Blakeney amid the continuing endless salt marshes, through the miles of shingle banks as we plodded our way along the coast, to grassy clifftops with wide ranging views to eventually the ‘I do like to be beside the seaside’ at Cromer.

To start, the weather was calm and balmy in the early morning as we set off on what we knew was going to be a long and challenging walk. Another raised sea wall took us out of Blakeney towards the sea. As the tide was in we could witness the glistening of the channels of water all around us, with the reeds swaying gently in the breeze. It seemed yet another graveyard for unwanted boats as we saw several just slowly mouldering into the surrounding mud. Making our way out, along and then back in towards the land, in a big C shape, was a delightful way to begin. Heading towards the windmill of Cley, through the village, and then, gallingly, back parallel to the inland path we had just taken. This was necessary as the local river had been diverted inland and we had to walk to the road to cross the river. They are trying to prevent the beach being breached causing an influx of salty, brine water into a freshwater area.

Derelict boat

At Cley there was a magnificent windmill, sadly no longer used to pump water, but now a highly desirable wedding venue and hotel. We sat and gazed rapt it for a while, with local boats bobbing quietly on the inlet eat of water. Then it was off along the raised bank again to the sea and the shingle. Passing some birders on the beach who made it evident we were not a welcome addition we passed by.

Cley-next-the-Sea Windmill

Walking on the shingle was hard going and soon we drifted down to the sea shore where the tide was retreating, leaving patches of sand to walk on. We soldiered on for a couple of miles and sat for a rest. As we did a seal tantalisingly popped its head above the water then disappeared again. We sat avidly waiting for it to reappear which it did sporadically. At last he was caught on camera, but only just- the photo is a ‘where’s the seal?’

The endless shingle
Spot the seal

Further down we came across more evidence of this area being used for military training during the wars, pill boxes and some gun emplacements could be seen- thankfully no longer used. Eventually we were able to move off the beach onto the cliff path, a much easier walking environment. From here we had beautiful views of the beach which quickly turned from stones to sand and patches of rock. Sadly we had a few hills (well, to be honest, more like small hummocks!) to negotiate. I think we climbed all of 471ft, but that did contrast to the other stages where we only gained 200ft or less.

One of the caravan parks

Then we began to spy Cromer, or to be frank, the many caravan parks that surround the town. We walked up to them, along side them, through them and then out of them as we gained the town. By this time we were flagging after such a long and hard walk, we were grateful that we were reaching our goal and longing for that cup of tea when we were at our hotel. Taking time to admire the pier and the goats used to much the grass in some steep slopes we headed off for a shower, cup of tea and supper.
The end of 4 days of walking in improving weather – well, the first day couldn’t have been wetter- and what a great experience. The views, the ecology, the birds (not as many as we hoped) and the company all made it a fantastic journey.

Not a bird but a goat!
Cromer Beach

Author & Photographer: Lynne Burge

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