Norfolk Coast Path #1 – Hunstanton to Burnham Deepdale

Today’s the day. It starts with a B&B full English breakfast of remarkable mediocrity. Fuel not fun. I have a bone to pick with all those B&Bs claiming to have the best FEB. Only one can be the best so statistically you are all lying. I wouldn’t mention any of this if the landlord hadn’t crowed about his when it comprised the cheapest ingredients cooked badly. Enough said.

My hosts are nice people though even if they think my walking plans are mad. Landlady tells me of a deceased adult seal washed up on Hunstanton beach this week. It reminds me there are now supposed to be many newborn seal pups flopping over the sands at Blakeney Point down the trail.

Outside its tipping it down. I mean those huge raindrops that individually soak you. Dressed for the weather I stroll down to the sea front. There’s scant visibility. The Norfolk coast path soon heads off into the dunes where a village of locked up wooden beach huts conjures up faded dreams of summer.

Until next year...
Until next year…

The regulation convoy of dog walkers dries up and it’s just me, the rain and the sound of the surf carried on the wind. The sea becomes increasingly distant as an expanse of wetlands forms a wedge between us. I can hear a lot of bird chatter but I’m not seeing that much.

Watching the watchers
Watching the watchers

Whenever I come across a group of bird watchers they always appear to be in an agitated state of excitement as if witness to a dodo. I ask what they have seen but it’s routine stuff. Then I ask about the sparrow sized bird I saw with a white underbelly. Everyone turns and focuses on me…  Did it have white wing tips?! No. There’s a collective sigh and eyes return to lenses.

Cromer - 4 days walk or 45 minutes by car
Cromer – 4 days walk or 45 minutes by car

At Holme the Peddars Way national trail links up with my route. The coast path is well signed although “Cromer 44 miles” isn’t heartwarming. It’s easy walking though and as the sea “returns inland” I can see what looks like a fine sandy stretch of beach.

Miles of sand
Miles of sand

The Wash gives way to the North Sea and the path deviates inland again on a man made embankment that has for some reason angered the weather gods.

A gauntlet of wind and rain
A gauntlet of wind and rain

A host of new bird activity heralds the return of the mudflats. It’s here that I see various waders including a curlew that pokes an improbably long bill into the shallows in a hunt for food. Would that hold currency with the bird watchers?

Another charming sign
Another charming sign

I can smell Thornham before I see it. When I get closer the warming aroma of smoke from an open fire is seen to originate from a fittingly quaint cottage with the year 1682 emblazoned above the door.

Movable feast?
Movable feast?

The rain has finally ceased and in the absence of better options I break for lunch in a bus shelter noting how quickly I could reach my destination if I simply jumped on the next one.

Sandwich consumed the post-lunch route takes a disappointingly superfluous detour inland a mile south, east and then north. A seemingly vast tract of farmland is broken only by the odd pile of harvested root crops.

Crop surplus
Crop surplus

Normal service resumes at Brancaster. Duck boards make for dry feet and far reaching views of reeds that I believe are harvested for roof thatching.

Keeping my feet above water
Keeping my feet above water

It’s not far now to my overnight stop. Brancaster Staithe Quay used to be a major port for malt shipments. Today it serves as a base for shell fishing vessels.

Looks better than it smells
Looks better than it smells

There’s a stench of rotten mussels but that won’t put me off eating them later.

Waiting for the tide
Waiting for the tide

Brancaster is renowned for mussels. A couple of outlets on the main road sell the days catch.

Fresh catch
Fresh catch

Burnham Deepdale backpackers lodge is a modern professionally run outfit. After a shower and change of clothes I’m human again but at a physical cost. Aside from the deep cut in my thumb obtained while slicing parmesan for today’s lunch (a decidedly middle class walking related injury) my right knee doesn’t want to bend. This is a worry – I need it tomorrow!

Until then I can only hope that ibuprofen, Brancaster Mussels and Brancaster Brewery ale at the White Horse will have a remedial effect…

Here’s today’s walk in point form…

In a nutshell
– A walk through the wetlands, kingdom of the birds

High point
– When the rain stopped

Low point
– Aches & strains that could become a problem

Looking ahead
– A drier hike to Wells

Daily Stats
Stage  1 – Hunstanton to Burnham Deepdale
Distance  12.5 miles Speed  2.9 mph
Lowest  0ft Highest  318ft
Ascent  600ft Descent  705ft

The route…

3 thoughts on “Norfolk Coast Path #1 – Hunstanton to Burnham Deepdale

  1. I wondered if you would opt to go along the main road from Thornham instead of inland, and use the saved mileage to go into the Titchworth reserve. Looks as if you might see the odd sunray later in the walk!

  2. Interesting to hear you didn’t see the point of the inland diversion. When I did this walk in 2010 I followed the main road until I reached Titchworth marsh, and had a wonderful walk around the seaward edge of the reserve. (But I always felt guilty about not doing the inland route instead!)

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