Peddars WayToday was to be the final day of my Peddars Way adventure. However there was no time for celebrating as my ankle was quite sore and swollen after yesterday’s stupid slip. I really thought I may have blown my chances of finishing but set to with my usual hearty  appetite at breakfast, listening to the rather depressing sound of the rain pattering on the conservatory roof.

The landlady informed me that the heavy showers were due to give way to lighter showers, and her husband cheerfully added that the jetstream was due to move at the weekend, giving sunny weather next week, which didn’t really lighten my mood any.

I set off into the grey gloom, which quickly gave way to showers. Mercifully my ankle wasn’t too bad when I started to walk on it, and I had dressed my blisters, so I felt slightly more hopeful and just decided to take it slowly. The first thing of any interest I passed was a dead snake on the road which looked as though it may have been an adder.

After some road walking, the road gave way to a grassy track at Shepherds Bush, and it became apparent that it was going to be impossible to keep my feet dry today. The walk from here on was a mix of metallic tracks and grassy tracks, some broad and pleasant to walk on and others rather muddy and wet. It rained on and off virtually all day; there would have been lovely sweeping views in clearer weather, but sadly not today- I would like to go back someday and walk this part again as it was the most interesting part of the whole Peddars Way.

There are no villages on route, although the villages of Great Massingham and Little Massingham lie a couple of miles from the path. I might have been tempted to detour but I was concerned about the impact adding extra miles may have on my ankle.

The Peddars Way near Harpley Dams

The Peddars Way near Harpley Dams

At Harpley Dams the Peddars Way crosses the Kings Lynn to Fakenham Road, after which it becomes arrow straight, pointing a direct line to Ringstead and the coast. It was also quite exposed, as I found out when I had to stop and put my waterproofs on yet again. My blisters had also started to rub but I felt that there wasn’t a lot of point in trying to dress them as my feet were sopping wet anyway. In all I was feeling pretty miserable!

There are tumuli in the fields bordering the Peddars Way, and a stile allows access to one of them, but there is not a lot to see apart from a mound of earth. Shortly afterwards the Way passes by the village of Bircham and I could see its distinctive windmill in the distance. There is a tea room here so I was sorely tempted, but as it would have added 3 miles to today’s distance and as I my ankle had already started aching I thought it would not have been the greatest idea. I banished thoughts of cake and hot chocolate and instead focused my gaze on the broad grassy track of the Way stretching into the misty distance; to the field on my right a deer was bounding through the crops, keeping pace with me.

Misty, rainy wet path

Misty, rainy wet path

The path now descended near to the village of Fring, where I met a chap on a mountain bike. He said that he used to live in the area and asked me what the beginning of the Peddars Way was like as he’d like to cycle it. When I told him it was forest he seemed disappointed and said it sounded boring.

The Peddars Way near Fring

The Peddars Way near Fring

After a brief foray on the road, the path passes Sedgeford Magazine, not an interesting read but a little building used as an armoury, built around 1640 for the Civil War.

Sedgeford Magazine

Sedgeford Magazine

By now my blisters were really giving me hell, my ankle was expressing its extreme displeasure and I was dying for a coffee. Although I was plodding towards Ringstead and the Gin Trap Inn, my guidebook informed me that it doesn’t open until 6pm. However, I was mightily cheered when I finally reached the village to find a notice outside the pub stating it was open all day. Result-  it’s little victories like this that can completely turn a walk around! The landlord was leaning over the bar reading the paper when I stumbled in, and it was apparent that I was his only customer, but he served me a lovely cup of coffee and I sat down to enjoy it, just as it started raining again outside. Suitably refreshed and caffeinated, I set off through the village towards Holme-Next-The-Sea, walking across fields and down a muddy track to reach the final Songlife sculpture- ‘And I being here have been part of all this caught and thrown like sun on water have entered into all around me.’ It was here that I caught my first sight of the sea! A final stretch of road walking bought me to the beach and golf course at Holme, and I could see my goal- a finger post marking the end of the Peddars Way and its junction with the Norfolk Coast Path.

The end of the Peddars Way adventure

The end of the Peddars Way adventure

Peddars WayI would have been so glad to finish here but had a tough walk through the dunes towards Hunstanton, now following the Coast Path- it was hard going walking through sand and my feet kept slipping around inside my shoes, pulling my blisters even more. I could see the cliffs of Hunstanton looking tiny in the distance, but it seemed to take an age to reach the edge of the town.

The cliffs at Hunstanton- in the distance

The cliffs at Hunstanton- in the distance…

The walk through Hunstanton was excruciating- my blisters were complaining very loudly indeed, especially the one on my left foot, and all my thoughts were directed towards reaching the Bed and Breakfast and assessing the damage. I just hope I wasn’t cursing too loudly! Eventually I hobbled my way to the War Memorial and found the finger post marking the start of the Norfolk Coast Path, before treating myself to a portion of chips and staggering to my night’s lodgings.

Lovely...

Lovely…

The owners of the Bed and Breakfast, Deepdene, were lovely and insisted in bringing me a cup of tea and slice of cake when I arrived, and agreed to try to dry out my shoes and socks. They said that they have a lot of Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path walkers staying and added that they had walkers every day during April but it rained all the time! I had a bath and took stock of the damages. Ankle- rather swollen but not too sore. Blisters- not too bad on the right foot, one burst and angry looking blister on the left foot, with a large flap of loose skin. I snipped this away and dressed it with a compeed reinforced with Zinc Oxide tape, hoping that tomorrow would allow me to keep my feet dry and the dressings in place. I have faced the prospect of walking 23 miles in better shape! I decided that I would just take tomorrow as it comes and had an early night watching telly in bed with a mug of hot chocolate…

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