Total Pageviews

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Walk 39 Sea Palling to Mundesley

Walk 39          Sea Palling to Mundesley (Norfolk)

(First leg of English coastal walk – Broadstairs in Kent to Berwick at the border with Scotland).

Map: L/R 134 and 133
Distance: about 10 miles
Difficulty:  moderate – some of the walking on sand dunes can be very tiring.
Terrain: paths, pavement, beach
Access: Parking at both ends
Public transport: Very few buses - best done by car/taxi
I did not walk the section between Winterton-on-Sea and Sea Palling. It looked fairly featureless to me and would involve a lot of walking on the sand. However, if you are interested in seal spotting speak to the National Trust warden at Horsey Windmill who told me where you can find them on this stretch. The mill is interesting in itself and there may be some written information about the seals at Horsey Common.

At Sea Palling a lane from the village leads on to the sandy dunes. Offshore reefs can be seen here – they have been built to help prevent the regular threat of floods. The walk to Eccles on Sea can be along the road and cycle route or along the sands depending on the tide. Holiday homes and caravan parks are very common in this area.

Eccles comes from ‘ecclesia’ meaning church and this indicates that it was an early Anglo Saxon Burial site.It is mentioned in the Domesday Book as a thriving fishing village. Today it is mostly occupied by an estate of bungalows. From here it is only a short walk to Happisburgh which is probably best reached along the cliff top via road and paths.

It is useful to know that this settlement is pronounced ‘Haisboro’ rather than Happysborough which had a local nearly wetting himself with laughter when I asked for directions to the lighthouse. A look over the edge of the cliff reveals clear results of erosion and failing sea defences which have been worn away. Many students were here when I went, they were busily studying the changing coastline. The formidable sands have caused many shipwrecks on and off shore. In 1904 there were so many that Trinity House (responsible for coastal safety) blew them up. The local church yard has many graves of sailors including the 119 men of HMS Invincible which was wrecked here when sailing to join Nelson’s fleet at Copenhagen. The area is renowned for its ghosts including a decapitated smuggler – you have been warned!

The lighthouse, which is a little inland, was built in 1791 and operates automatically now. It was built after a ferocious storm claimed 70 ships and 600 men. The lighthouse is a popular film location including for the TV series Jonathan Creek and Kingdom.

A cliff path leads to Walcott (beware some of these paths may well be diverted or closed now due to erosion). The area has been populated for hundreds of years and has a 13th century church. The front is a popular stopping place for cars – some are out on the beach, others looking out to sea with a Thermos of tea. From Walcott it is beach or road walking through Bacton and on up to Mundesley.

A few red brick hotels at Mundesley are testimony to the efforts made to develop the town as a fashionable watering place after the railway was built here in 1898. Unfortunately, this never took off but it is still a pleasant spot. It was once an important port on this bit of coast. Look out for the small maritime museum topped by a coastguard station. Alongside this is a (presumably) replica green bomb which tops a memorial to the many Royal Engineer Bomb Disposal personnel killed while clearing British landmines from the Norfolk coast between 1944 and 1953.

Snaps show: maritime museum at Happisburgh; memorial for bomb disposal engineers at Happisburgh; sands at Sea Palling; Happisburgh lighthouse; example of cliff erosion in this area.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Walk 38 Great Yarmouth to Winterton on Sea

Walk 38 Great Yarmouth to Winterton on Sea (Norfolk)

(First leg of English coastal walk – Broadstairs in Kent to Berwick at the border with Scotland).

Map: L/R 134
Distance: about 10 miles
Difficulty: fairly easy some low cliff walking
Terrain: paths, pavement, beach
Access: Parking at both ends
Public transport: Bus number 1 goes about once and hour, Monday to Fridays only, linking both destinations. Check timetables before using.
This walk starts at the car park just north of the Nelson Monument near the South Sands, Great Yarmouth (marked on the OS map). There is parking in the road and a nearby car park but using public transport involves a mile or so walk south down the front before starting the walk back.

Most of the area around the South Sands was inaccessible when I went due to coastal protection work – this may have changed. Nelson’s monument can be easily located and rather oddly is situated at the entrance to an industrial estate. Britannia, who is at the top of the column, faces inwards towards Nelson’s birthplace at Burnham Thorpe, also in Norfolk. The story goes that the superintendent of works, had expected Britannia to be facing the sea and killed himself - in reality he died when inspecting the nearly finished work at the top. Nelson’s trips to Great Yarmouth included visits to injured seaman recovering in hospital after the Battle of Copenhagen.

A charter in 1272 by Henry 11 made Yarmouth ‘Great’. The town suffered in World War 2 with many of the older parts destroyed.

Great Yarmouth has a lively front. Amusements, including the Yarmouth ‘eye’, are plentiful. The Britannia Pier is a popular venue for comedians, at the time I visited Joe Pasquale, Roy Chubby Brown, Jim Davidson, Jimmy Carr and Cannon and Ball were due to appear.

Further along is the elegant Wellington Pier. This was opened in 1853 as a memorial to the ‘Iron Duke’ (Duke of Wellington). It was very popular until the 1970s when, like many seaside attractions, it struggled to survive and the council planned to demolish it. Public protests caused the council to consider new ideas. Jim Davidson, the comedian, leased it in 1996 and gave it up in 2002. It now houses various types of family entertainment.

The large glass construction of the Winter Gardens is impressive and has an unusual history. It was originally located in Torquay (Devon) but had not proved a success. It was bought cheaply then dismantled and transported to Yarmouth pane by pane. Since 1904 it has been used for entertainment and currently houses a children’s adventure ‘jungle’, a bar and a bistro.

The vast sandy beaches are now a family attraction but the success and growth of the town was originally based on the herring trade. It once had the largest herring fleet in the country and produced the famous Yarmouth Bloater (slightly salted smoked herring). In the town are a number of narrow parallel alleys called the ‘rows’ which housed workers in the herring trade and small businesses that relied on the success of the catch. One or two of these are kept in their original format; they are owned by the National Trust and can be visited. If you have time I strongly recommend a trip to the very interesting Time and Tide Museum which is housed in an old herring works. The smell and atmosphere of the fish and smoking is still strong in the preserved buildings.

The walk to the north of Great Yarmouth passes well cared for gardens adjacent to the promenade. Further along is a caravan park and behind this Yarmouth horse racing course. Out to sea is a large wind farm (Scroby Sands) generating enough energy for 40,000 homes. From here the walk continues along the sand until Caister-on-Sea. A pub with the rather odd name of ‘Never turn back’ marks the walk inland.

Caister was originally a walled town encompassing a Roman fort. The port silted up leading to Great Yarmouth becoming the main port. From Caister the walk goes north either on the beach or footpaths until a settlement called California is reached. This place owes its name to the discovery of 16th century gold coins found on the beach in 1848 – it was at the time of the Californian Gold Rush in the USA. Nearby Scraby has a beach/water favoured by surfers.

The walk continues northwards on the sand or through the dunes until Winterton-on-Sea. Daniel Defoe writing in 1722 recorded that half the village was built of timbers from shipwrecks and that 200 coal ships had been wrecked here on one winter’s night. It is one of the most dangerous areas for shipping in the UK. Flooding is also a problem. Grass was planted to develop dunes but some of these have been eroded and the area is still vulnerable to floods with a siren used to warn residents. Look out for the Hermounus Holiday Camp which has distinctive roundhouses inspired by the original owner’s trip to a place of the same name in South Africa.

Snaps show: roof of fast food outlet Great Yarmouth; California; Wellington Pier, Great Yarmouth; Britannia Pier, Great Yarmouth; Never Turn Back pub; the sands at Caister on Sea.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Walk 37 Lowestoft to Great Yarmouth

Walk 37    Lowestoft to Great Yarmouth (Suffolk/Norfolk)

(First leg of English coastal walk – Broadstairs in Kent to Berwick at the border with Scotland).

Map: L/R 134
Distance: about 17km or 10 miles
Difficulty: mostly flat, some fairly easy low cliff walking
Terrain: paths, pavement, beach
Access: Parking at both ends
Public transport: Trains at Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth. Regular bus service 1/1A seven days a week between the two towns.
This is a frustrating walk because dangerous cliff erosion means diversions on to roads and sometimes on to the beach.

Thanks for the comments regarding this walk.

Starting at the Euroscope in Lowestoft the walk continues north following the cycle path alongside the beach and sea. The area has become a centre for the development of renewable energy. Lowestoft was a producer of porcelain in the 18th century and there are examples in the town’s museum.

The area around Lowestoft is one of the driest places in the UK which is good if you are planning to do things outdoors! The path turns inland and from here to Corton it is a walk along the road. To the south of the village is a large theme/holiday park called Pleasurewood Hills. Part of the beach at Corton was an officially designated nudist area but I understand that the council put a stop to this.

To the north of the village is a path following along the top of Corton Cliffs – be aware that there may well be diversions to this path because of erosion. Hopton-on-Sea is another area with holiday villages and access to the sea. The resort is well known for hosting the World Indoor Bowls Championships. The comedians Joe Pasquale and Eddie Large are two past residents of the area. The county border with Norfolk is just to the south of Hopton.

The walk continues alongside a golf course until it reaches Gorleston Cliffs and Gorleston-on-Sea. The town was once a centre for the herring fishing industry. There is a pleasant beach and the buildings reflect more thriving times during the Edwardian era. The closure of the town’s three railway stations, the last in 1970, probably reflected a decline in popularity while at the same time contributing to it (in my view). The southern part of Great Yarmouth is visible across the water.

The walk continues along roads near to the long channel of water that leads into Great Yarmouth. The next walk starts at the South Beach through the interesting and lively town of Great Yarmouth.

Snaps show: thatched cottage on seafront at Lowestoft; RNLI sculpture near the lifting bridge, Lowestoft; the bridge lifted; fountains near the central seafront, Lowestoft..