Sunday 09 October 2016 – Brancaster Staithe, Norfolk.
I have not been to the north Norfolk beaches before. As a child I visited family friends in Kings Lynn a few times, but as far as I recall I never made it to the coast. I was looking forward to this weekend away. My Walthamstow social group have been going together away once a year for many years, renting hostels or other large accommodations. This was to be my first year joining the ‘YHA’ weekend, and El’s first away for quite some time.
This year the National Trust Brancaster Activity Centre in Brancaster Staithe had been hired for the weekend.
As I do not work on Friday, El took the day off work and we left late morning to take a slow drive up to the coast. We have looked at North Norfolk a couple of times for weekends away but had never made it up there before. As we were in no rush to get there we took the long route and aimed for Cromer at the other end of the coast to Brancaster, we did get a bit mis-placed a couple of times on the way. After the second time I decided to get the map out of the glove box.
We arrived in Cromer early in the afternoon, and after taking a light lunch in a cliff top cafe decided to go for a walk around. Stupidly, and I still cannot believe this, both my camera batteries were flat. I had been looking forward to doing some photography this weekend, I had packed my DSLR, filters, lens, tripod, all the gear cleaned and ready to go. But I failed to charge my second battery and somehow must have knocked the power switch on when I put the camera in the bag this morning, and no charger either. I had even considered taking the other camera as well, but decided against it. 2nd stupid mistake. I was not amused with myself as my phone has a lousy camera. All photos here are from my phone.
We didn’t go for a walk in Cromer, but here is a breakwater.
The drive to the hostel was really nice, there are some lovely little villages across north Norfolk, and they have their own style of building with a large pebble dash on the outside of the buildings. It was quite busy, even for a Friday, this particular stretch of coast is known as ‘Little Chelsea’ as it is full of Londoners’ second homes. There were a lot of London voices about.
We were the first to arrive in the hostel, and it is a lovely building, renovated recently after a high flood in 2013.
There was well over twenty of us including a reasonable size group of teens, no kids any more. Friday night was spent in, chatting over fish and chips and a couple of beers, though Paul and I snuck out for a pint at the nearby pub when the board games came out. Not our thing.
On Saturday the group hired bikes and went out for what turned out to be quite a mega-ride. El cannot ride a bike so we hopped back in the car and went out for a drive to visit some of the villages we passed through yesterday. Our first stop was Wells-next-the-Sea, a lovely village, definitely given over to tourism, embracing it and there were a lot of people visiting – and it had two shops with used vinyl as well. We will be back!
It was interesting to see a boat with a silver fern painted on the side, I wonder if this is owned by a Kiwi? Or maybe just someone who follows the All Blacks.
I loved this church in Burnham Deepdale. The tower is not one I have seen much of before, and I am guessing it is of Saxon origin. There are a few original looking churches on the coast, but I was still smarting from yesterday’s stupidity with camera batteries and was not really interested in taking photos.
After dinner on Saturday most people went for a drive and then a walk to the beach for a beach fire, we didn’t go in the end. The beach is quite a way from the hostel, this area is full of estuaries and small rivers and the area is a national reserve and a bird watchers paradise.
Sunday morning was all activity as we had to be out of the hostel by 10:00. Once the bulk of the cleaning had been completed and we waited for the stragglers to get organised I went for a walk out behind the hostel at the edge of the estuary. I was now used to the fact I had no camera, and went to take some photos with my phone, though regrets I had a few ! The light and clouds were brilliant, and I do love brilliant clouds, the DSLR would have loved it out there.
We arranged to all meet in the village of Blakeney Quay, before moving on to our activity for the day from the village of Morston Quay. I took one quick photo at Blakeney before we were back in the car and off again.
Caroline who had organised the weekend had booked us on a seal watching trip to Blakeney Point, were the estuary meets the North Sea. There are seals here all year round, both common and grey seals, with numbers of each type varying at different times of year.
The weather was not too bad for a boat ride, it was cold, but not too windy and there was no chop at all on the estuary, though there was some rain coming in. Which I was fascinated with all the way out to the point.
There were a few seals out on the point, common seals on the land and a couple of young grey seals playing in the water. I definitely missed having a camera here and the phone did not do justice to the occasion sadly. Lovely seeing the seals, they are such funny looking animals when they are on the land, yet so elegant in the water.
On the way back to land we stopped off for a brief walk around on the reserve, there are a number of small wooden huts in the low dunes, and they very much reminded me of New Zealand, the whole scene could have been uplifted and dumped ‘down under’ and nothing would have looked out of place.
Well, maybe the life boat house would have!
Back on dry land, we reconvened in Blakeney Quay for a quick pub lunch before jumping back in our cars and heading back to London.
It was a great weekend away, I feel very lucky to have been able to join in with such a long standing tradition. Thanks to all those who organised, shopped, cooked and kept the weekend going. Wonderful.
We will be back – and next time I will double check my camera batteries and then check them one more time!
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