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Sunday, 2 October 2011

Walk 45 Kings Lynn to Sutton Bridge (Norfolk and Lincolnshire)

Walk 45          Kings Lynn to Sutton Bridge (Norfolk and Lincolnshire)

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

Map: L/R 132 and 131
Distance: about 12 miles
Difficulty:  quite easy, flat
Terrain: paths, some pavement
Access: Parking at both ends
Public transport: 505 bus between Kings Lynn and Sutton Bridge every 20 minutes Mon-Sat and once an hour on Sunday.

If you are going by car you could take a quick diversion to Snettisham Scalp. A pleasant enough beach – a scalp is an oyster or mussel bed. A German prisoner of war camp was near here in World War 2.

The walk starts on the north east side of Kings Lynn (or Lynn as it is called by locals) on the bank of the Great Ouse. The town was an important port from the eleventh century. It continues to receive shipping although pilots are necessary to navigate the hazardous channels and sandbanks of The Wash. You can’t walk too far up this bank before encountering light industry so retrace the walk back into Kings Lynn.

The Tuesday Market area of the town (originally a thriving trading market) is surrounded by some impressive buildings. For two weeks, starting on February 14th each year, there is a fair and music. Traditionally this is the first fun fair of the year in the showmen’s calendar. The town was named ‘Kings’ Lynn when it became the property of Henry V111. Further along the quayside is the old customs house fronted by a statue of Captain Vancouver. In 1792 this Kings Lynn resident landed on the north west coast of America to declare the land British Columbia. Vancouver is now the largest port in Canada and the birthplace of container shipping.

Further along the quayside going inland is an impressive sculpture of a seaman. A further area of interest is the Green Quay with its old buildings. An 800 year old cod skeleton found in Lynn shows that they grew up to 51 inches! The Campbell Food factory is in the town.

The path continues until it meets the bridge which crosses over to West Lynn and progresses northwards up the Great Ouse; the edge of The Wash is on one side and Terrington Marshes on the other. It is a bleak walk which should have at least the merit of being peaceful. However, there is the regular scream of low flying jets practising manoeuvres in The Wash - a bit scary and sinister.

The path around to Sutton Bridge is called the Peter Scott Walk as a tribute to the famous naturalist. It progresses several miles before turning inwards down the River Nene. A short way along is a lighthouse attached to living accommodation. It was opened in 1831 and was meant as a grand entrance to the new Nene Channel which had just been been dug out. There is a similar building on the opposite bank. Neither of the lighthouses was ever lit. Sir Peter Scott lived in this eastern lighthouse from 1933 to 1939. It was from here that a number of his wildlife studies and paintings were undertaken.

Further down the path Port Sutton Bridge, a successful trading area, dominates the opposite bank. At the end of the path is the impressive Cross Keys Swing Bridge. There have been three bridges on this sight including one designed by Robert Stevenson son of George Stevenson who designed the 'Rocket'. The current bridge was opened in 1897 as a road (and at that period rail) swing bridge. It is hydraulically operated and in its heyday would open about 900 times a year. It now opens no more than 2 or 3 times a week to let shipping up the river to Wisbech.

Snaps show: The Peter Scott Walk and lighthouse; Captain Vancouver statue at Kings Lynn; Cross Keys Swing Bridge at Sutton Bridge; Kings Lynn buildings and Tuesday Market.

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