441 King’s Lynn Revisited

[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!)

Route today:

About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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42 Responses to 441 King’s Lynn Revisited

  1. Margaret Wyatt says:

    All the best people walk backwards Ruth and non sequentially!
    Your posts have been so useful and inspirational. I am hoping that by walking ‘backwards’ you may be able to prove some insight into a section we have yet to do.Will keep following with the mantra ‘what did Ruth do’

  2. Chris Elliott says:

    Well Ruth – you will definitely be the first person to walk around the coast backwards (: !!!
    I will be interested to hear how you find Lincolnshire. It has its own peculiar set of challenges which no doubt you have already discovered. Once past Lincolnshire the east coast has a footpath pretty much the whole way to Duncansby Head. You’ll love it. It’s a much more civilised walk than the Highlands of Scotland, so thoroughly enjoyable in a completely different way. I will be interested to hear what destination you decide to select as your new finishing point. It’s an important decision. I originally started my walk at the bird sanctuary at Rye Harbour. Then I decided the walk to Rye Harbour would be a dreadful end of the walk so I walked back from Rye Harbour to the church in central Rye in the town centre. You want a nice place to end with plenty of watering holes to celebrate!!! You may think you have a long way to go but the north coast of Scotland and the east coast mainland will flash by in comparison to the west. All the best Chris

  3. john dennis says:

    So glad that you took the emotional bull by the horns and have emerged, nay burst, into thrilling us all with more tales of derring do with pics to suit. All the best with the next stage. John

  4. Christopher collins says:

    Welcome back to East Anglia Ruth! Living in Bury St Edmunds I started my walk some years ago along the Peddars Way to Hunstanton and got as far as Dover before COVID put an end to that! Since then I decided to walk the other way like you starting in Kings Lynn aiming for Sir Peter Scott’s lighthouse and down to Sutton Bridge. Bit of an uninspiring route! Since then the next lockdown happened and I’ve never got going again… golf has taken over my life! Good luck Ruth!! Love your blogs as does my sister in Sydney.

    • Hi Christopher. Thank you for your kind words. I’ve never played golf, but can imagine it would take over your life. You will get back to walking, I’m sure, but lockdown and Covid has made everything a bit more tricky.

  5. Eunice says:

    Your backwards walk sounds intriguing Ruth, I’m looking forward to reading more 🙂

  6. tonyurwin says:

    It is good to move on, just a new direction! I wonder if it seems less menacing because of the confidence gained in 11 years of exploring new places? The sun shined too……:)

    • You are probably right about the confidence factor. I just reread my first blog, and that has changed considerably too. I take far more photos now, and talk much more freely about my thoughts and feelings.

  7. sarah babbs says:

    Hi Ruth, I was so glad to find your blog and have been meaning to write for a long while, just realised actually just replying to the email may work?! Anyway, you’ll have heard that I bumped into your daughter at the Florence parkrun 2 years ago now and hope you are very well and getting on well up north! Love your blog, it’s cathartic and gentle and informative all at once. My walking came to a bit of a halt not long after Lucy and I were in Florence, which we went to after walking the Cinque Terra, as about a month later I ended up with a stress fracture in my talus. Obviously I then went 6 weeks later to spend a week walking the Camino de Santiago and completely buggered it! Still not back going any great distances…. Anyway if you are down this way anytime, would love to catch up and chat walking so that when I do get back you can tell me which bits are the best for a few days as a starter! Take care Sarah >

  8. Gemma Adele Barclay says:

    Hi Ruth,
    For ardent walkers, the last year and more has certainly been very frustrating – I have only just got back to Scotland’s coast for the first time in 18 months.
    Finally we are free to travel anywhere in the UK and it is so wonderful to walk anywhere we want.

    I had been almost exclusively walking the coast line, but during the lockdown I rediscovered the wonderful countryside of East Sussex.

    I look forward to reading about your coast walking, wherever it occurs…

    Regards, Gemma.

  9. M J OTOKA says:

    Well done Ruth. We walked Hunstanton to Holbeach st Matthew in may this year….. challenging with all the RAF bombing runs..,.but we enjoyed trespassing on the Sandringham estates …..hahahaha
    Now we have retired our Next planned walks are Littlehampton to Fishbourne (next week) & Lowestoft to Cromer In October

    • Yes, i trespassed across Sandringham too, 11 years ago. At the time, I didn’ even realise I was on the Sandringham estate! I wonder when they’ll get round to routing the official England Coast Path through this section, and what route they’ll take?

  10. Robin Massey says:

    Love it Ruth, feels like a sense of relief (maybe?) to have a very manageable way of continuing your wonderful, and yes, inspiring, trek. All the very best.

    • Definitely a feeling of relief, Robin. I battled against walking backwards for some time, because it seem contrary to my original firm idea of forward progression – but it’s better to be walking backwards than not walking at all.

  11. Good to see you walking again, Ruth. That was quite an emotional start. I’m sure you have made the right decision, flexibility is the name of the game.
    Will continue to follow with renewed interest.
    Best wishes.

  12. Russell White says:

    Hi Ruth – quite simply with this change of plan you are going forwards – just in a different location & certainly in Mind, which is where I suspect we all do a lot of our walking. The non sequential walking is not too bad either, as I’ve found with the SWCP – it’s always I challenge to remember if you’ve done this bit, that bit, or what !! Ha Ha. Good Luck Russ

  13. abigailsauntie says:

    And why not change and adapt your rules ! It’s how species survive, isn’t it? Look forward to your posts as you go anti-clockwise for a bit. Love reading your write-ups – and for some reason, always like to see your photos of disappearing Royal Mail postal vans as they trundle around rural areas. Good luck on the next phase. Jill

  14. tonyhunt2016 says:

    I’ve several times returned to places, but unlike you I was hoping to re-kindle memories. Like you, however, I realised each time that it’s just a place and all you can do is enjoy it for ints intrisic features. The memories I had were all about the people, and they have certainly not been there!

  15. Karen White says:

    Given the current covid situation and the way regulations keep changing it makes perfect sense to continue your walk by doing it ‘backwards’. I’m very glad that revisiting King’s Lynn wasn’t as traumatic as you expected.

  16. southcoastwalker says:

    A brilliant idea to rekindle your great quest without going all the way back to the remote though beautiful Highlands. Our son and his girlfriend, now fiancée, have just finished their own epic 77-day trek from Land’s End to John O’Groats starting on 17th May, the date of the first release from lockdown. Every evening we caught up with their adventures and photos online, as indeed we’ve loved following yours and look forward to seeing more! And thank you for sharing your thoughts, feelings and bemusements (is that a word?) which make your blog much more than a diary of places ticked off. As they say in Narfolk, keep yew a’troshin bor!
    Pat & Mary (of Rye – a great place, Chris, to end a walk)

    • Hi Pat and Mary. Thank you very much for taking the time to comment. Well done to your son and fiancee for completing the LEJOG, and so soon after the end of lockdown. Quite an adventure, I’m sure. Oh, and “bemusements” is a word – I’ve just looked it up – and a very excellent word it is too! Sums up my mental state while walking, really it does 😀

  17. Andrew Broadfield says:

    I love reading the feedback from your walks. I started out with same ambition to walk the coast of Britain in 2013. My journey started in Minehead and by the time I reached Gretna having read your posts I came to the conclusion that Scotland may be a challenge too far. So that I could achieve something tangible I decided to follow Hadrian’s wall then head up to the Scottish border just past Berwick on Tweed and then head back down the coast to Minehead following the proposed route of the new England coast path. Like you I have had my own personal set backs since I started but I feel so much better in myself after completing each section. I currently have 165 miles to go until I achieve my goal. I love doing all the research and prep for my walking and reading your articles has been invaluable as I have learnt to avoid most of the mistakes you have made. No disrespect but the distances you cover is the bench mark for the minimum target I set myself each day. I did start to take photos of my walks but yours are so much more comprehensive than mine that I have become much more selective.
    Thank you for being so inspirational and good luck with your renewed challenge with the sea on your right.

    • Hi Andrew. How lovely to hear from you, and congratulations on nearly finishing your walk!! Maybe you’ll tackle Scotland next… or have you another challenge in mind?

      • Andrew Broadfield says:

        Hi Ruth. Thanks for your comments. There are so many options you can do these days. If I did Scotland it would have to be a mixture of walking where there is public transport and cycling where not. I have read many glowing reports on the Northern Ireland coast and I also fancy the idea of trying to circumnavigate as many UK islands as possible.

  18. Jayne says:

    Your walk, YOUR rules, and if anyone tells you otherwise that’s their problem 😊 Delighted to find these posts and walks to ‘catch up’ with, it actually makes total sense to me to pick up at Kings Lynn and carry on in the opposite direction.

  19. Ian Gilbert says:

    Hi Ruth. Good to hear you have come up with a plan to continue your walk. My plan to finish in Skegness changed last year as I started from 3 different points last year due to Covid. First is South Queensferry walking clockwise for 2 walks (I am originally from Fife so would make a good finish point). 2nd was from Scarborough where we have done 2 walks. 3rd is from Withernsea towards Hull – also 2 walks. With last years lockdowns my wife and I did Hull to Skegness. Good luck with your walking ‘backwards’ plan is it least progress no matter we decide individually.

  20. Hi Ian. So I’m tackling the section you did last year – Hull to Skegness? A good coincidence! Would like to get as far as Hull so I can tick Lincolnshire off the map. As usual, I’m behind with my write-ups. I quite liked Skegness- although the litter around Skegness and Mablethorpe was appalling 😫

    • Ian Gilbert says:

      I enjoyed walking that section last year as I cut down the distance so I could walk with my wife and we had such brilliant weather and it felt that we were beating the covid restrictions as we were out in the fresh air. This year we have had 2 holidays on Mull and done 22 coastal walks on the island – the weather ‘up there’ has been brilliant this year! We also done a day trip to the island of Coll from Oban and using my electric bike done 57+ kms and approx 20km walking – brilliant day, brilliant weather. Lastly we were on an amazing P&O cruise on Iona last week and it sailed around Mull, Iona, Mull of Kintyre and then Arran and past Ailsa Craig. That was definitely a one off. I love your posts.

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