Norfolk Coast PathI feel I must apologise for my lengthy hiatus from this blog! I haven’t given up on it or any of my endurance ambitions, I have just had an enforced break due to my mysterious foot swelling and the arrival of my Dad and Step mum for their usual August stay… they live in Spain but it gets intolerably hot in August and so they use my house as a base to visit friends and relatives, and it seemed such a nicer idea to kick back and spend time with them rather than slogging it out on the streets and trails…

… but it’s not been all sitting around eating chocolate (ok then it has mostly). I spent a few days at Wells-Next-The-Sea this week and did manage to waddle my way along 13 miles of shingle and cliff to complete the Norfolk Coast Path (NCP). Yes- I finally completed it and it only took me two years!

I was just getting over a cold and could have happily postponed, bearing in mind that I have not even walked 6 miles for some time, let alone 13, but decided I would regret not doing it, so gave myself a stern talking to and headed to Cley-Next-The-Sea on the Coasthopper- my ending point for part two of the Norfolk Coast Path.

A hidden path behind houses took me to the impressive Cley Mill lording it over the marshes and I felt great as I strided out along the path towards the sea- yes, this is what I love… setting out on a new path, seeing new sights and not knowing where I will be in an hour’s time…

Cley Mill

Cley Mill

… in another hour I was actually trudging through shingle and cursing. After reaching the sea there is a four mile stretch along a shingle bank to Weybourne and although it is splendidly isolated and offers an amazing panorama along the coast it is punishing! Walking on shingle is every bit as draining as walking on sand and I had to stop every few hundred yards to empty what felt like rocks out of my boots. Although there is a welcome relief every so often in the form of a grassy ridge offering firmer footing, much of it is just a case of trudging forwards and concentrating on the view!

The shingle ridge!

The shingle ridge!

But all things must pass, and I felt a surge of relief as I crossed the car park at Weybourne and saw the shingle giving way to lovely green cliffs which promised great views. But first I was in dire need of refreshment so repaired to the village for an essential Feast ice lolly and take away latte, which I enjoyed on a bench on the side of the first cliff, looking with some satisfaction back along the shingle beach I had just traversed.

These cliffs are not high, more like the Norfolk equivalent of cliffs, but they are cliffs nonetheless and are a delight to walk over. They are also in a constant state of erosion which is brought home when the path turns sharply inland to skirt a row of houses; according to my guide book the path passed them on the seaward side just a few years ago but it’s no longer there.

Cliffs- Norfolk Style

Cliffs- Norfolk Style

There is a sharp pull up Skelding Hill with its lookout station and view down into the fleshpots of Sheringham. The town was teeming with holidaymakers and I paused for a cold drink on the promenade. I had decided to wear my walking boots and my two big toes were starting to feel pinched. I was certainly feeling the effects of walking this distance after a long break and reluctantly heaved my body upwards as I had a bus to catch in Cromer.

The end is in sight!

The end is in sight!

A steep pull up Beeston Bump gives a distant view of Cromer and the caravan parks dominating its low cliffs. The NCP turns inland here, but I was confused by a new looking sign telling me to go straight on. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing and not spotting any more signs, I followed the path marked on my guide book and soon picked up NCP way markers as I started the long trudge up roads and woodland to Roman Camp and Norfolk’s highest point- Beacon Hill at 102 metres. I heard distant drumming which was probably coming from a nearby caravan park but my fevered imagination turned it into the ghosts of a long dead Roman Legion still marching over these hills. My legs were aching, I had developed a blister on each heel and my toes felt as though they were in a vice but at least I had bagged a county top!

Beacon Hill

Beacon Hill

I tried to put a spurt on as I really wanted to catch the 6:40pm bus back to Wells; fortunately the next stretch was an easy downhill on roads and a dusty track passing through woodland and skirting campsites.

Instead of the guide book’s straight route through Cromer, I followed the NCP signs through streets and along the promenade, finally catching sight of the pier, and not a moment too soon- I had ten minutes to catch the bus!

I sprinted down the slope leading towards the pier, ran onto the wooden boards, sat on the metal bench running along the pier sides and jogged back up to the town again with leaden legs and heaving lungs. My achievement didn’t really sink in until I collapsed on the bus and headed back to Wells and the prospect of a chip supper from French‘s. Strangely enough I saw several new looking Norfolk Coast Path signs pointing the way further along the cliffs than the old route, and finally following the A419 into Cromer so maybe the route has been updated! If so I may have to come back and walk it…

Cromer Pier- the end of the road!

Cromer Pier- the end of the road!

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