Stage 3. Thornham to Burnham Deepdale

What a difference a day makes. Sunday is the day of the London Marathon. Here in Norfolk, the sky is grey and the weather forecast says a band of rain is due at 10 o’clock.

I hang around at the hotel. On go the blister plasters. Water bottles are topped up. I watch the Andrew Marr show on TV in my hotel room. By now it is after 10 and still grey but no rain. I can’t procrastinate any longer.

The first part of the walk is along the road. This is not too busy on a Sunday morning but not ideal. The official Norfolk Coastal path takes a detour inland at this point. But I decide to stick closer to the coast and follow the road.

Just past Titchwell and I turn down a public path, called Gypsy Lane. This winds through trees and is pleasant walking. Now the rain begins to fall and gets heavier. I have not packed a good waterproof and I shelter in a hawthorn bush. Worried about my equipment getting wet, I wrap my camera in plastic bag and stuff my iPhone into my bra.

The rain continues relentlessly. Several groups of walkers come towards me along the path, heading back from coastal walks. In typical English fashion, we greet each other and grumble about the weather. Later, I hear their car doors slamming in distance. I wait patiently.

After an hour the rain stops. What a relief. I was just about to turn back and find a bus. It was the thought of the embarassment of turning up, wet and bedraggled, that kept me waiting. I am a little damp.

Birds in Titchwell Nature Reserve, Ruth's coastal walkContinuing down Gypsy Lane, I come out of the trees and onto a sea bank. There are reed marshes on either side, with open water and wild birds. The sea is shining in the distance. The sun is shining and the clouds are clearing. There is a wonderful fresh smell to the air. And there is nobody around.

I take photos of birds and linger on this part of the walk. Magical.

Following the sea defence wall, I meet the access road to Brancaster Beach. The exact route I had intended to follow is closed – with no entry signs. The sea wall is crumbling here and the route has been diverted. I walk along the road to Brancaster Beach. Cars are beginning to arrive and people have appeared.

The beach is long and sandy. Apparently the sands can be treacherous if you are caught by rapidly rising tides, and there are warning signs about the dangers. Sadly, I see a plaque that commemorates the sad death of someone, possibly a child, caught by the water and drowned.
Brancaster Beach, Ruth's Coastal Walk
I walk back towards Brancaster along the sea bank that follows the coast road and then rejoin the coastal path. The path runs around the edge of reed beds. The ground is marshy and the path consists of 2 wooden plank widths, bound with wire. I am grateful for the dry footing.

I see a sign for Branodunum Roman Fort, but despite trudging across number of fields, can find no sign of this old roman settlement. I rejoin the road and arrive at a small marina, labelled on the map as “Activity Centre”. There is a motley collection of boats and various boatmen are milling around. A small shack sells fresh crab meat. There are muddy areas with warning signs – this looks like quicksand territory.

It takes me a few minutes to find the continuation of the coastal path, which winds between some old shacks and then follows the edge of the marshes. To my right are the back gardens of seaside cottages. To my left, I look over muddy marshland to the sea. There are boats on the water and boats in the mud. I can’t resist taking lots of photographs of boats. Yesterday it was beach huts, today boats.
Boats at Brancaster, Ruth's coastal walk, North Norfolk coast

There is a pub with a long garden running down to the path. A large sign welcomes children, dogs and tired walkers. I hesitate and am very tempted. But the sky is grey again and I am keen to finish this section of the walk before I stop. So onwards, past the pub, and I arrive at a small inlet where abandoned house boats rest in the mud. The coastal path heads north-eastward, but I have walked enough for today and I turn down the track that leads to Burnham Deepdale and a late lunch.

After lunch, the Coast Hopper bus takes me back to Thornham. The bus is busy. People don’t pay, just show passes. And I realise this is how the pensioner brigade spends its Sunday afternoons – riding the bus and taking short walks. There are jolly conversations, reunions of old friends and introductions of new ones. I meet a couple of gentlemen who are doing a prolonged pub crawl, riding the bus from village to village and visiting the pubs along the way. All good fun, but I wonder how the bus company makes its money.

Getting off at Thornham, I direct the gentlemen to the Lifeboat inn, find my car, change my boots and begin my drive home. Can’t wait till next weekend…..


Vital stats: iPhone Trip Journal recorded 6.8 miles, but I am sure this was at least 8 miles! No new blisters.

About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, Doctor, woman, etc.
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