Summer 2011

1. Sheringham to Wells | 26.07.11

costal_walks_1Empty Norwich streets – brightly lit Hopperwindow frames little boy definitely not stepping on the cracks. A Norfolk “pan o chocolert”.

Bunting in Sheringham, a stiff wind behind me to the seals of Blakeney. Deserted path though the boggy flatlands – surprise meeting with a flock of llamas and the tea shops and rows of children crabbing in Wells.

2. Sheringham to Cromer to Mundesley | 05.08.11

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On a bench on the way to Cromer “ Life is mostly froth and bubble, two things stand in stone – kindness in another’s trouble, courage in your own”
Deserted beaches, ruined groynes and  screeching seagulls. Crumbling cliffs offering no escape – following one set of footprints hoping for a sign – the family slowly approaching, Mum in flip flops – soon a path up to the village and its photo exhibitions and chip shops. Stowmarket gels on the raz take over the carriage with their trilling and shrieking, disturbers of the peace – am I getting old?

3. Seaford to Eastbourne | 23.8.11

IMG_2196Smell of sweaty socks in the youth hostel – two lone deckchairs abandoned to the tide. Seven Sisters standing proud in the sun – the quiet sadness of Beachy Head. The surprise of decent French food in the backstreets of Eastbourne.

4. Wells to Titchwell | 28.8.11

costal_walk_2The brightly coloured beach huts  – the jewels of Wells beach – walking against the wind through the never-ending dunes – beautiful moth hitches a ride on my thigh.

5. Eastbourne to Hastings | 24.9.11

costal_walk_4Assaulted by a group of bellowing football fansin a crowded carriage – people cowering in their seats – strained fearful smiles. Big Sleep hotel run by vintage geezers in tattoo. Coastline hemmed in by relentless ribbons of hotels and amusement arcades – thank goodness for low tide.

6. Hastings to Camber Sands | 25.9.11

costal_walk_3Hopped over to Winchelsea and got lost. Whipped through Rye and the roar of motorbikes to the fluted wet sands of Camberand the languid flight of far off kites.

7. Seaford to Brighton | 08.10.11

P1010968Wide promenade of Seaford giving way to industrial wastelands around Newhaven. Pleasure boats where once the ships brought in massive blocks of ice from the inland Baltic lakes. Recurring images of cormorants, real and otherwise. Then Peacehaven where the vertiginous steps cut into the crumbling cliffs and lead down to the bright smack of the sea against its concrete defences.

8. Brighton to Shoreham | 9.10.11

P1020004Sparkling in the sun the colourful beach huts at Hove, a few souls swimming in the creamy surf. Later the path “elbows to the right” into the ugly wharfs and wastelands of pre Shoreham.
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9. Barry to Llantwit Major | 9.10.11

IMG_0221Ride to the start of the walk – a gypsy taxi driver. On to the cliffs overlooking Barry. Static caravans perched on the edge at Porthkerry – little did we know that the following day our footsteps would crumble leaving caravans see-sawing before breakfast. Desolate stretches of grey beach around Rhoose, shingle to Llantwit and a fried egg sandwich.
caravans

10. Dover to Deal | 08.01.12

1196284_2d7135b8Hidden behind the engineered landscape of the Eastern docks a narrow lane with weathered concrete fence posts leads us up to the white cliffs of Dover and beyond. Evenly spaced small boats keep watch for what? Illegal immigrants? The path leads down to St. Margarets and the enchanting Pines Gardens – the Poetry Path, the Catalan Calyx roofs topped with turf. On to cream teas in the Bluebird Café and a hobble into Deal.

11. & 12. Mundesley to Caister-On-Sea (two days) | 5.05.12

inside happisburgh lighthouseWide open skies, deserted sandy beaches and wind. Beautiful home for two days  – Gig House. Forced to do our re-cycling homework. Families of seals dreaming on the beach and kite surfers riding the waves. Best bacon butty ever and vertiginous climb up the Happisborough Lighthouse.

13. Shoeburyness to Leigh-On-Sea | 10.05.12

P1020295Walk along damp shingle beaches to the vintage arcades of Southend. A walk on the mile long pier is irresistible, as is the mini-train back, clanking over the weather worn boards. Kingsnorth lowers in the distance and then on to the fresh cockles of Leigh On Sea.


14. Shoreham to Angmering | 13.05.12
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Beautiful wooden houses overlooking the lagoon, each equipped with canoes and such. On the western side of genteel Worthing, a sculpture park. My face turned to the midday sun and a headwind, turns an unexpected pink.-

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15. Folkestone to Littlestone-on-Sea | 06.06.12

P1020384Empty high speed train tips me into the serenity of The Leas on a bright morning. Steep paths from the lush green sward and majestic houses to the hard concrete walkway that will lead me to Hythe.

A half expected setback when I see the military red flag at Hythe, forcing me into a 4 mile walk along the busy road to rejoin the coast at Dymchurch Redoubt.Surprise of a Victorian watertower, children playing in the garden, marking the end of my walk and the luck of the last single track steam train of the day puffing through Romney Marshes back to Hythe.

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16. Deal to Sandwich | 08.06.12

P1020406P1020411After headwinds of my last walk, forecasts of 50 mph winds lend weight to a decision to walk anti-clockwise. Walking out of old-fashioned Deal feeling smug, the strong wind behind me blows me like a rag doll alongside the billiard table turf of the royal golf course. Sandwich Bay, pristine and deserted offers up a tantalising footpath through a nature reserve, which swallows me up and leads me to the whipping muddy waters of an impassable estuary. Three miles back against the wind, feet aching, I trudge into “historic” Sandwich, my Noah’s Ark – Pegwell Bay will have to wait.

17. Lowestoft to Caister | 07.07.12

P1020426Just north of Lowestoft a deserted nudist beach, quickly turns into a concrete path. Low boom of the waves slapping against the sea defences makes me spin round – is there somebody behind me? But no I am very much alone and soon a familiar sight challenges me – I decide to walk on.P1020430
Reaching family run Gorleston I turn to follow the river up to Great Yarmouth passing industrial docklands and occasional glimpses of a previous era.
The sun comes out to greet me as I wander through the plastic glories of Yarmouth market and the neat flower beds and statues in the courtyard of the Fisherman’s Hospital – an 18th century care home for fishermen over the age of 60 and their wives.
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Following directions from a jolly Pole I start walking through the dunes to Caister-on-Sea entranced by the bird song and the surreal vision of a No. 3 double-decker bus a long way from Westminster.P1020442

18. Southwold to Lowestoft | 08.07.12

P1020452Leaving the Jubilee bunting of genteel Southwold we head northwards ignoring the dark purple clouds massing behind us. Caught up in the sight of the stark dead trees on the beach we miss the first drops of rain, which quickly become a heavy downpour. No shelter in sight I carry my rucksack close to my body in an attempt to protect my camera and iphone, feeling like a refugee carrying a child away from danger. I back up under a dead tree, bent double under a low branch, like a cow sheltering from the storm.
Taking tide advice from a lone fisherman we leave the coast for
overgrown trails through muddy fields and dripping woods – now so wet it didn’t matter. A brief hole-up for a cup of tea and a couple of deviations later we hit the coast again and squelch our way into Lowestoft under Triton’s watchful gaze.
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18. Southwold to Lowestoft | 08.07.12

P1020465P1020461Heading out in the unusual bright sunshine I stomp through the shingle for half an hour until the sea retreats to reveal damp firm sand perfect for walking. Looking out to sea I spy an animal and this time it’s not a seal, it’s a real labroador. Sizewell’s unearthly dome shimmers in the distance and getting closer I scuttle past not wanting to linger.P1020480 Head down I walk to my own rhythm, passing the grand, coloured houses of Thorpeness and soon Aldeburgh with its “fresh fish, anything fresher is still swimming”.
Strains of music reach me, or is it the wind? Tired and happy I stare at the words on the Scallop – “I hear those voices that will not be drowned”. Did I?
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20. Aldeburgh to Butly | 18.7.12

Finally out of Aldeburgh and a forest walk to Snape, complete with ceramic sculptures. Then along the road in the rain to welcoming tea and scones at the Maltings. Crossing boardwalks through marshlands and miltary camps of pig sheds, I come across what has to be a mispelt joke. From Butley to Woodbridge I am the only passenger on the bus.
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