Thursday saw us on the coast road again, making the significantly longer trundle around to Wells-next-the-sea. Yes, another childhood holiday destination. For me it has a bit of everything – a quaint shopping street leading down the little harbour and a lovely walk along the coastal defence ridge down to the beach area with beach huts that back on to sand dunes covered with pine trees.
Again, it was busy. The harbour was littered with kids dangling crab lines – and yes, I used to do that too. In my day (oh dear, that phrase so often uttered by our elders) a cargo ship use to weave it’s way up the deep water channel at high tide to deposit or take on grain – I can't remember which.
It’s a mile – give or take – from the harbour to the beach. Neither of us were relishing the walk but was delighted to discover the little narrow gauge railway was still running that trundles from the other side of the road to the holiday park just behind the beach. I seem to recall it was steam powered back in the day, but now it was definitely a little diesel doing the hauling.
It was the holiday park behind the pines that we used to go to – taking a week in a static caravan, one of which didn’t even have electric. It’s expanded since then and they have an area for touring ‘vans – although it was eye wateringly expensive when we explored the possibility of staying there.
The beach was busy but not packed and the tide was out, just leaving the channel on which the aforementioned grain carrier used to weave its way through during high tide. The beach huts were not there when I was a kid, but make a lovely addition.
Next up, and just out of town was another railway – the Wells & Walsingham Light Railway. The longest 10.25” narrow gauge steam railway in the world at four miles. We were early so took the chance to refuel with a cuppa and a scone.
By the time the train arrived it was getting busy but we squeezed into the little carriages for the journey south to Walsingham. It was our plan to stop and have a look around, but time marching on – and the railway clearly being very popular, we didn’t want to risk not getting on the last train back, so stayed on board for the return journey.
So we drove to Walsingham – it was only four miles after all – and the place was nearly deserted. We didn’t bother with the Shrine, for which the town is famous – as many will know, neither of us ‘do’ God, but it was a pleasant quiet place to wander around. Shop fronts give you an idea of what the place is all about.
Our return route was rather circuitous, calling in at Holt to er, refuel before stopping in Overstrand back on the coast for burger and chips. Yes, the diet is going well.
Friday was much more relaxed. A plan for a lazy morning doing little was executed perfectly. After lunch we popped up the coast to Walcott to see Trev’s Sister a& Brother-in-Law, then returned via a visit to the supermarket to welcome friends to our pitch for a BBQ. Nick used to be a driver at the college too but emigrated to Norfolk in April with wife Ellen to embrace the more relaxed pace of life. We ate too much, drank too much and had a really good evening. The late appearance of the sun meant we could sit outside too. Lovely. We parted with a promise to meet up for Sunday Lunch.
Saturday too was a relaxing day – partly out of necessity thanks to the enthusiastic research the previous evening. However, late afternoon saw us firing up Rosie again and heading north and west once more along the coast passing again through the lovely villages of Cley-next-the-sea, Brancaster, Salhouse and Stiffkey to name but a few.
Our destination this time was much further – Hunstanton, known to many as ‘Sunny Hunny’. Yep, another trip down memory lane for both of us, although at different times in our lives. Sunny Hunny was a popular destination for a day out from Cambridge as was only about 60 miles away. As a family we used to park up on the cliffs at ‘Old’ Hunstanton then spend the day on the beach, before driving – or sometimes walking - along the promenade to the new bit for tea and maybe a go on the boating lake If I was lucky. Happy days.
This time we done the reverse. The afternoon sun had certainly brought people out and it seemed the mercury was still rising as we stopped for a cheap and cheerful pie and mash at one of the many eateries accompanied – for me anyway – by a glass of cream soda. Yep, another childhood treat.
The signal and former coal shed is all that remains of the railway station that use to exist on what is now a car park. Trains ceased in 1969 but one wonders how well it would be used today given the rammed car park and surrounding streets. What was still there was the big joke shop which I used to love looking around. I could have spent hours in there even today.
People were still coming on to the beach to enjoy the evening sun. It was lovely to see that a place which had given me so many happy childhood memories was still being enjoyed by many.
Heading back we missed the turning for Brancaster harbour but I’m so glad we turned back, because with the evening sun and departing visitors it looked absolutely delightful.
Blakeney Quay was equally as pretty, although we declined to walk all the way out to Blakeney Point it was still worth a stop off. There’s no denying, this little bit of Britain's coastline is truly wonderful.
Our final stop was near Salhouse. You will see in the photo a sign for Samphire. I first came across this at a dinner party given by friends a while back (thanks Joe & Doug) and has been described as sea asparagus as it appears mainly in coastal areas. There was lots of roadside signs offering it for sale, although I would imagine you could pick it for free if you know where to look.
Right, we’re there again. There is going to be a third part to Norfolk. So, as usual, stand by…..