Total Pageviews

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Walk 41 Sheringham to Stiffkey (Norfolk)

Walk 41          Sheringham to Stiffkey (Norfolk)

(First leg of English coastal walk – Broadstairs in Kent to Berwick at the border with Scotland).

Map: L/R 133 and 132
Distance: about 12 miles
Difficulty:  easy with a small amount of fairly easy cliff walking.
Terrain: paths following the Peddars Way
Access: Parking at both ends
Public transport: Coasthopper bus runs in the summer to both ends.
Start the walk at Sheringham following the Peddars Way in a westerly direction. The Peddars Way gets its name from the Latin 'pedester' meaning on foot. The path is about 46 miles long and follows the route of an old Roman road.
From the coast it is possible to see the steam trains of the North Norfolk Steam Railway chugging in and out of Sheringham. The path passes alongside a golf course and goes precariously close to the cliff edge – a diversion may be in place now. Good views along the coast can be had near Deadman’s Hill – an area owned by the National Trust.

The path descends in to Weybourne Hope, a number of small boats were being launched here when I visited. The area offers seaborne traffic both the shelter of the cliffs and deep water close to the shore. It was feared that this could be used by an attacking force especially during the time of the Spanish Armada. A verse of the time said:
            He who would old England win
            Must at Weybourne Hope begin.

The stretch of coast between Weybourne and Salthouse has a series of, what I assume are, military buildings tucked up a small cliff behind barbed wire and ‘Keep out’ notices. They emit rather sinister beeping noises and nearby graffiti has obscene comments about the military.

Salthouse is an attractive village which can be seen across the marshes. The stone cottages are dwarfed by a prominent church. The marshes have gradually spread since the 17th century silting up the old port and cutting Salthouse off from the sea.

The path follows is alongside coast and marshes until cutting inland towards Cley-next-the-sea (Cley rhymes with eye). The area around here is Cley Eye (‘eye’ is old English for island) and the surrounding marshes are very popular with bird watchers. A system of dykes ensures an essential supply of fresh, clean water. Avocets and bittern are just two of the 275 species that have been recorded here. The village is now separated from the sea by half a mile of marshland disguising the fact that it was a flourishing port 400 years ago. A significant landmark is the windmill which was built in 1713 and is open to the public. Walking northwards from Cley is a long beach, owned by the National Trust, which stretches to Blakeney Point– seals can often be seen here if you fancy a bit of shingle-beach walking. If not you could catch a boat from the small harbour at Morston to Blakeney Point – Morston is a couple of miles further down the coast from Blakeney.

Follow the Peddars Way into Blakeney village. Flint or red brick cottages and large elegant houses overlook the creek with its sandy beaches. Floods overwhelmed the village in 1953. Continue through Morston and alongside Stiffkey (pronounced Stewkey) Marshes. The area is famous for its cockles known as ‘Stewkey Blues’. Nearby Stiffkey Hall which is partly in ruins was built by Sir Nicholas Bacon father of philosopher Francis Bacon. Stiffkey had an interesting rector in the 1930s. The Reverend Harold Davidson became known as the prostitutes’ parson – he spent much of his time reclaiming souls in Soho, London. Subsequently he was defrocked and ended up in a barrel on Blackpool sea front as a one man show berating the church. He then moved to a Skegness amusement park where he sat among lions until one ate him! 

Snaps show: across the marshes to Salthouse; Windmill at Cley next the sea; path out of Sheringham next to the golf course; a steam train on its way to Sheringham. Bottom group: Sheringham front; Cley marshes; Sheringham beach huts; wall art on Sheringham front; Weybourne looking towards Cley next the sea.


No comments:

Post a Comment