[This short walk took place on the 8th June, 2021]
I’m standing beside an offshoot of the River Ouse, looking at a group of derelict old boats abandoned on the bank. Crikey! They have really deteriorated in the 11 years since I was last here in King’s Lynn.
I’ve been worrying about today, for a number of reasons.
Firstly, I have been trying to walk the coast sequentially by starting each walk where I ended the last one. (My rule number three.) Sometimes, I’ve had to slightly compromise this rule, because of logistical problems with buses, or ferries, or biking routes. Now, due to COVID restrictions, and uncertainty whether there might be another lock-down or whether I would even be welcome in the Highlands, I decided it was too risky to drive all the way up to Scotland.
I could either lose another year of walking or, instead, I could break my sequential rule, return to my start point, and begin to walk backwards. (Well, not literally walk backwards, but I’m sure you understand what I mean.)
King’s Lynn is where I started my walk, on the 17th April 2010 and, of course, it’s also where I planned to END my coastal walk. So, here’s my second reason for feeling uneasy about returning here. In my dreams, I anticipated walking this final section with my husband, and celebrating at the end with him. That dream will never happen now.
Like the rotting boats, much has changed over the past 11 years. My life has altered dramatically – retired, divorced, and living alone in a new city.
Anyway, I was worried about returning to this place, and anticipated feeling overwhelmed by a sense of sadness and loss. But, a bit like ripping a plaster off, it’s not as bad as I thought it would be.
It’s really quite OK. Just another sunny day.
I leave the boats behind, and head towards the centre of King’s Lynn, crossing over what was once (I think) a swing bridge.
Past the main entrance to the Port of King’s Lynn, over some railway tracks that no longer go anywhere, and I’m back in the main square. This is where I parked at the very beginning of my coastal trek, but the square now provides parking for a Covid vaccination centre.
Back in 2010, I arrived very early one morning, and was probably so wound-up about the walk ahead, that I didn’t really take much notice of King’s Lynn. I do remember trying to ask a number of people the way to the water’s edge, but they scurried away. (I believe they were Eastern Europeans and probably didn’t speak any English.)
Today, King’s Lynn seems much more cheerful than I remembered it. The brilliant sunshine helps of course. There are plenty of interesting old buildings to look at, including this one with a hexagonal tower that houses the King’s Lynn Conservancy Board – whatever that is.
I spot a narrow passage which should take me down to the ferry crossing over to West Lynn. Check the timetable. Yes, there’s a ferry running in about 5 minutes time.
I hurry along the alleyway, and spend a good 15 minutes waiting for the ferry…
… which never arrives. There’s no sign of it on the opposite bank either, only a few hundred feet away.
Disappointed, I return down the alleyway, and make my way to the waterfront, where there are more fine buildings, including the old Custom’s House, and old warehouses that have been converted into luxury apartments.
King’s Lynn certainly seems a very different place to the last time I was here, when everything seemed run-down, unfriendly, and slightly menacing.
There’s even a wonderful new piece of glass sculpture down by the water’s edge.
The waterfront, unlike the port, is newly renovated and looks very attractive. Tourists wander around. Staycationers. There are a variety of places to eat and drink, with outdoor seating. Fishing boats are moored up along the quay.
I eat in one of the waterside restaurants, sitting outside in the evening sunshine. It’s the first meal I’ve had in a restaurant for months… actually, the first meal in a restaurant this year! Such a simple thing to do pre-covid, but now eating out is something you have to carefully risk-assess.
My return to King’s Lynn was less emotionally challenging than I anticipated. Today, after a long drive to get here, I’ve just been ambling around. Tomorrow, I’ll get some serious walking done.
Miles walked today = 1.5 miles (mainly aimless wandering)
Total around coast = 4,522.5 miles (not all in the right direction!)