(First leg of English coastal walk – Broadstairs in
Map: L/R 132
Access: Parking at both ends
Follow the Peddars Way out of Thornham and on to the edge of the marsh and sands that lead to Holme next the Sea. The dunes and salt-marshes form a protected nature reserve - special plants grow here that can survive in salt water when the area is flooded. The coast along here is known as
A choice can be made for the next part of the walk into Hunstanton. Either take the path through the dunes (which I did as I prefer to keep as near to the sea as possible) or follow the Peddars Way. Either way, do not miss the lighthouse just past Old Hunstanton. The lighthouse, which is now a private residence, was used from 1665 until 1921. In its early days the lights were called Chapel Lights after nearby St Edmunds Chapel. In 1776 it had the World’s first parabolic reflector - the current building was erected in 1840.
A little further along are the remains of St Edmund’s memorial chapel. Edmund of East Anglia was king of this area from 855 until 877. Legend has it that the chapel was constructed on this spot in 1272 to commemorate the Anglo-Saxon Edmund landing here in 855. After reigning peacefully for several years he had to defend his kingdom against the invading Danes. He was beaten in a battle at Thetford, taken prisoner and died a martyr’s death when being tied to a tree and killed with arrows. Later, his shrine at Bury St Edmunds in
Be sure to look at the ‘hedge’ sculpture of a wolf and a nearby representation of a severed head. This recalls the local legend of Edmund’s beheading after he was killed and it being subsequently guarded by a wolf. The animal held the skull between his paws until it was claimed by locals and laid to rest. Near to this point is a bench remembering Edith Cavell (the First World War hero) who was a
The seafront buildings in this part of Hunstanton give it a more gentile appearance than some of the parts further along. Very attractive gardens have been laid out here for over a century and a nearby memorial remembers 31 victims of the floods in 1953.
The walk down the hill takes you into the livelier part of the resort with its numerous amusements, fairground type attractions and fast food outlets. ‘Sunny Hunny’s’ claim to fame is that it’s the only east coast resort where you can watch the sun setting over the sea (because it faces west over The Wash).
Leaving Hunstanton the hubbub dies down and there is a flat walk to Heacham alongside beach huts, caravans, bungalows and a few amusement parks. Heacham’s origins stretch back many years and there is a 13th century church to admire. Thomas Rolfe (mentioned in the
Snaps show: St Edmund's Memorial Chapel, Hunstanton; the sculpture of the wolf near the chapel at Hunstanton; Hunstanton front; Holme Marshes