Crossing Another Border
I walked through a wet and eerily quiet Dunwich, well known for its annual Dunwich Dynamo cycle race, before heading through the tranquil Dunwich Forest. With no foot ferry running from Walberswick, again a final and brief Suffolk river walk up the Blyth, before crossing over on the old Southwold railway track-bed.
Heavy drifting rain accompanied me into Southwold, a genteel north Suffolk seaside town with a model yacht pond, colourful beach huts and working lighthouse perched amongst the town’s older houses. The dignified Pier boasts a fascinating ‘The Under the Pier Show’, - housed in the middle of the Pier - an arcade housing an eccentric collection of weird, clanky mechanical machines. A delight!
At the most easterly point of the British Isles the sun shone as bitter winds brought breakers frothing up and over Ness Point. Nearby, remains of Lowestoft’s earlier sea defences were clear evidence of how the town has been continually battered by the North Sea.
Later, on the same day, I picked up a new sign ‘Norfolk Coast Path’ - my 11 day trip through Suffolk was at an end. After weeks of zig-zagging east and west in Essex and Suffolk, reaching Norfolk signalled the start of being able to walk north – at last an opportunity to make the miles mean something.
Norfolk’s coastal erosion was clear from the outset. Along the sandy cliffs I made my may across Gorleston 18-hole Golf Course, heading towards Great Yarmouth. I’m sure a number of holes will ‘go over the edge’ in the coming year! I crossed the River Yare, walking down Great Yarmouth’s South Quay, the heart of the town’s original port. Today, the port provides support to various offshore industries, most notably wind farms. The impressive Scroby Sands wind farm is clearly visible from the seafront.
From Caister-on-Sea there was a long stint of walking in a valley of sand dunes. Houses and caravans were perched on sandy cliffs overlooking the footpath, while on the seaward side a high hedge of dunes planted with marram grass aims to stem the advance of the sea. Paths criss-cross the desert-like landscape and it’s easy to see how people can become disorientated in sea mist.
At Horsey Gap I was lucky enough to see a colony of 20 grey seals lying outstretched on the sands. They could easily have been mistaken for smooth beach boulders. Further up the coast the wind continued to howl, white spume blew off the sea and the shoreline was thrashed. There have also been many recent cliff-falls. The coastal footpath just simply disappears over the edge, so I’ve followed the guidance of keeping a distance of 5 metres from the threshold.
Our overnight stops continue to be varied. On one, we stopped in a farmyard, only to be woken by a crowing cockerel at 5am. By way of an apology, the owner handed us half a dozen beautifully brown free-range eggs. Another stop was at Trimingham’s iconic Pilgrim Refuge where villagers made us feel extremely welcome with a fundraising evening.
The week ended in Sheringham, where the Victory Walker was hit with a stomach bug and halted by the approaching ‘Beast from the East’!