Monday, 14 March 2011

Great Yarmouth to Winterton on Sea - 9 Miles - Saturday 5 March 2011

I awoke, seemingly in the middle of the night, got washed, breakfasted and drove to Coleshill Parkway station. Arriving at 0520, I found the car park locked and inaccessible. I was looking for alternative parking when a man appeared out of the gloomy mist and opened the gate for me.

Thus, I caught the 0535 Cross Country train to Peterborough, where I arrived on schedule at 0711. Peterborough Station was freezing cold and I joined the other travelers in the marginally less freezing waiting room. None too soon, the East Midlands Trains service arrived as scheduled at 0735 and I was whisked away towrds Norwich in a warm comfortable carriage towards Norwich, where I arrived at 0915. This was my first trip through this station and I had difficulty in locating the train to Great Yarmouth, which I boarded at the third attempt.

The journey to Great Yarmouth was uneventful save for a couple of fare dodgers who were ejected from the train at Acle. The scenery of the Broads was not unsurprisingly flat, but the countryside was punctuated by the towers of numerous wind-pumps that used to drain the land in a bygone era.
Great Yarmouth was cold, drizzly, but quite lively, especially as I crossed the busy market square on my way through the town. As I progresses, the buildings in their dark red brick or dark grey stone cladding gave off a misleading harsh appearance. On arrival at the seafront, the place was desolate. The great decaying brick pile that was once the Royal Aquarium had metamorphosed into the Hollywood Cinema. The Edwardian grandeur of the Britannia Pier has now given way an industrial style superstructure more appropriate to a modern retail park. However, the cinema was showing "The King's Speech" which proves that culture is alive and well on the South Norfolk coast. Having said that, the pier was advertising "The Chuckle Brothers" and "Chubby Brown" as this year's seasonal offerings.

I turned north (1030) and began following a route along the shoreline. Initially this was over scrubby, sandy ground frequented by friendly dog walkers, until I had made my way over the low dunes and on the edge of the sea along firm sand. As I progressed, there were still a good number of walkers and sea fishermen about.

After 3 miles at Caister (1125), the outline of the Haven Holiday loomed into view over the dunes and through the drizzle. There appeared to be just one or two hardy campers wondering aimlessly around, invetigating the remains of WW2 defences and a tractor parked on the beach.
The bungalows at Scratby, 5 miles, (1215) hung precariously on the edge of disintegrating cliffs optimistically protected by transported rocks. The signs forbidding digging had been studiously ignored by the local badger population.

As the drizzle intensified, I passed the outline of a long wrecked wooden boat at Hemsby, 7 miles (1235), before the Hermanus thatched roudhouses came into view at Winterton on Sea (1310). After 9 miles, this marked the end of my days walking, linking up with a previous walk in 2006 from Happisburgh.
I eplored Winterton before taking the bus back to Great Yarmouth. Little had changed from the dune-top cafe, the fish and chip shop to the tall church which dominates the village. A really nice touch was a rowing boat which had been planted with flowers.
The bus journey back to my starting point confirmed my decision to walk rather than cycle. Had I chosen the latter, the ride would have been one long procession of bungalows and holiday camps with very few glimpses of the sea. Despite the drizzle, the walk had been very enjoyable.

Before leaving Great Yarmouth on the 1517 to Norwich, I had time for a drink and a meal at the local Wetherspoon. I caught the next train out to Ely which walked round for about half an hour before the darkening evening drove my back to the station and the 1715 train which took me back to Coleshill for 1925.

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