I walked this, stage 17 of the Grand Norfolk Hike, on a changeable summer’s day in July 2016.
The hike was an impulsive decision.
Left on our own for the weekend, Smithy dog and I were sitting back drinking coffee and diggin’ some Oscar Peterson, when the urge for adventure suddenly hit upon us.
We checked various timetables and consulted with a Great Yarmouth taxi firm. Yes, it could be done but we’d need to step on it.
The dog and I caught the 1.30pm train from Ely to Norwich, leapt onto the waiting connection to Great Yarmouth, sallied forth into a waiting cab and arrived at Winterton-on-Sea beach by 3pm.
On the beach
And oh what a joy it is to stand at the end of the land and take it all in. The first sighting of the sea never fails to lift and inspire me. The sound, the smell, the colour, the size, the power. I take in huge gasps of air while Smithy strains at the lead, desperate for his freedom.
Okay, so it’s not the brightest of days and a light rain falls intermittently but that hardly bothers Smith or I.
I release him from the lead and off he bounds in eager delight, ready to greet other mutts and drink seawater that he’ll later recycle back onto the beach.
The sand is soft and cool, I remove my sandals and head off slowly in the direction of Great Yarmouth, 10 miles or so to the south.
The beach remains largely empty, the weather moves quickly from sun to cloud and back again.
Smithy enters the sea for a quick paddle and emerges looking like something akin to a rare sea monster.
Marvellous dunes, dark clouds burdened with rain.
The wind farm is always in sight, out in the sea, where wind farms should be.
A solitary gull keeps watch.
I’m thrilled to spot a seal, Smithy barks at him, the seal floats lazily in the shallows, unconcerned with us.
We reach Yarmouth
We pick up the pace and after a few hours arrive at Great Yarmouth.
The Boating Lake Coffee house is closed and probably won’t open at any time in the future.
We wander along the seafront, looking for a sign to the train station. We pass restaurants heaving with holiday makers digging into huge plates of fish and chips.
Smithy looks up at me, a question unsaid in his eyes.
We arrive at the station. I give Smith the last of our water and some scooby snacks which he gobbles greedily before settling down for a well deserved nap on the platform.
So, all-in-all a fine day’s hiking along the glorious Norfolk coast.
The Grand Norfolk Hike is almost complete!