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Norfolk, The Broads…and more Sweetcorn.
We have had no hesitation travelling off in our campervan which affords a wonderful form of social isolation and feel both lucky and privileged to be able to do so, taking nothing for granted.
By now it’s pretty obvious that our idea of a ‘Grand Tour’ is about travelling around and happily finding local walks and places to visit wherever we manage to pitch up. Preferably by the sea where we can continue with the England Coastal Path. For this, we do have a sort of plan and one of our destinations is the Durham Heritage coast where we hope to dip into the Northern Saints trails based on ancient pilgrim routes.
Well that’s the plan…we shall see but also realising that not too much is open,
particularly the churches.
So for now we wander northwards, mostly keeping to the coast while the sun continues to shine.
The sands at Sea Palling. Empty at 1.00 pm on a Saturday!
We actually have managed remarkably well so far to keep away from the rest of the human race …well we do have to keep up our social isolation. The England Coastal Path is great for this as it can be a little too isolated for the average tourist and somewhat rugged in places.
We did however have to travel inland for a bit to our Caravan and Motorhome pitch on the Norfolk Broads. It is virtually next to Ludham Bridge on the River Ant which Is probably better known as a popular 24 hr stop-over for the boats on the Broads with its shops, cafe, gallery, day-boat hire, public toilets, Pub, and car parking where we also noticed the odd campervan or two , parked up in a corner .
This was the only site we stayed at that was a fully functioning campsite…and as a consequence , always full and with caravans waiting at the reception area at noon, ready to rush in to find a pitch big enough for all their clobber , 4 x 4’s , twin axles and marquee size awnings and still wanting all the facilities. We felt very minimalist. It was a relief that we had only booked in for two nights.
We did however enjoy a couple of walks both ways along the river . One an afternoon stroll for an hour or so to How Hill (just a little rise really) and one in the other direction for a couple of hours to St Benet’s Abbey. Although not a lot to see, it’s a site of historical interest as it was the only Abbey not wrecked by old Henry In the 1530’s and where even today a service is held yearly on 1st August by the Bishop of Norwich , rather grandly arriving there from the river ( by boat , not walking on water).
The 12 century Abbey which bizarrely later, had a windmill built onto the side.
For the most part we have been lucky to eventually book into sites for only 5 units and incredibly to have the occasional 3 acre field to ourselves or shared with an over-nighter…once another Murvi! We have got the hang of booking now . Originally we set out to book Caravan and Motorhome sites and avoid the Camping and Caravan ones as found previously they tended to have tents, therefore kids and sometimes noisy families. However this time the children were back to school (well done Boris) and thus leaving the larger Camping fields empty, perfect for dogs. So when Wend had phoned earlier it was the Caravan and Motorhome ones which were full. Now we have shunned them for the larger , emptier fields of the somewhat more relaxed rival mob.
At our next site we were greeted by a man with a bright red jacket resembling an escapee from Butlins ( recognised readily by Wend , the only person I know, albeit when aged 10 yrs, who went on a holiday to Butlins, Minehead with her Granny, in preference to a trip with her parents to Yugoslavia.)
“ Come on in Girls “ (we immediately loved him) “ Anywhere you like”.
We learned later we had strayed onto the “rally” field with Mr Butlin ‘s ‘anywhere‘ being taken literally, but it was great and had by far the best views and location than the formal C.L. and the packed Caravan club site we had tried to book into just down the road. So good that we stayed 4 nights even though a slightly alarmed Wendy thought there was a night time Harley Davidson rally going on in the field next door at 10. 30 pm on the first night. She cautiously peered out to find RAF night manoeuvres directly overhead! Lin had her new Bose headphones on and so was blissfully unaware of all things…
So here we sat in the sunshine watching the maize being harvested in the field next door at Short Lane Farm midway between Warham and Binham.
The weather continues to defy the odds and be very sunny.
Looking up to their distinctive sound, we saw the geese flying overhead in their V formations and noticed a distinct breakaway by four at La Tête de la course flying away from the Peloton … so we watched Le Tour …geese style.
Just perfect (we are so easily pleased) and surrounded by good walks to interesting places enough to keep us busy for a bit.
A couple of lovely walks to the coast and the Priory.
The Priory at Binham , just a few fields away. Binham Priory was founded in the 11 century and took 150 years to complete. Sadly destroyed in the Henry rampage in the 16 century.
Also another popular spot and just a walk away is the village of Stiffkey. A lovely little village with a cafe and small store but not much else.
Popular with cyclists and walkers, it does have two direct paths to the seashore where we could continue our Coastal Path adventures albeit on mud and salt marshes. It is however on the main coast road and a traffic nightmare at times. Especially when car meets campervan. The queues can stretch back miles both ways while the two perpetrators look at each other bewildered as to why the other can’t ‘ just move over? ‘ We noticed no-one argued with the maize tractors and trailers.
Even more tricky when bus meets bus.
We left our quiet pitch (save for the cockerel starting up at 4.00am…he needed his perch raising) for a local day trip to what we believed to be the small quaint town of Wells-next-the Sea . What we got was the human race which we had successfully been avoiding. “ Are they Mad”? We know people want to get away and enjoy themselves just as much as we do but it was as if the warnings and the consequences of the last seven months of Covid had never happened. There were manic hordes , droves of folk, looking like they had just been released from Bedlam.
We scurried along behind our face masks, heads turned away trying hard to socially distance, towards the Holkhom Nature Reserve as fast as our little legs could go. Having enjoyed the spacious sands of the Reserve we fortunately found a path back across the fields. We had only wanted a walking map !
We had been quite successfully using the online Maps.me but couldn’t quite bring ourselves to give up our paper ones.
Now we have a subscription to digital OS maps we had been promising ourselves for the past few years.
Next we stayed a couple of nights with friends at Colston near York , on our way over to the Durham Heritage coast .
Red Flight, our friends two year old hadn’t quite got the hang of having a campervan and three dogs living in his yard .
As usual we went for a local walk, this time to Boston Percy to visit where our friend had got married in the beautiful village church. Following a footpath from there with the intention of crossing the River Wharfe to a pub for light refreshment we found the path came to an abrupt end at the edge of the river. There was a bridge, fenced off like Colditz … fair enough, as it did carry the main London to Edinburgh railway with high voltage everything running along it . So a bit of a trek back and just in time to find Doyly’s tearoom closed. We learned later from our friends that there had indeed been a way across the river to the footpath the other side … A ferry run by nuns to make a bit on the side some past century ago! Sadly the convent , nuns and boat were long gone , along with our tea and cake, but somehow the footpaths have remained.
Ah well, next onto our Pilgrim Trails which apart from the Lindisfarne route all go to Durham, the Cradle of British Christianity.
First up …
The Way of Love… A trip out to Hartlepool.