Seals and Shingle – Day Three of Walking the Norfolk Coast Path

As I woke up on the third day, I lay there and didn’t dare to move. I was so concerned about how much I had ached the night before and how much I could ache today.

As I swung my legs over the edge of the camp bed I braced myself for the inevitable twinge…

But no!

My right knee was a tad uncomfortable but nothing an ibuprofen or two wouldn’t cure.

AND STRETCHING AT THE END OF THE DAY!!!

The short walk from Stiffkey to Morston Quay gave me a chance to warm up my legs and get a feel for the ache level. Whilst my knee wasn’t happy with the state of play, it wasn’t a complete deal breaker. And once the painkillers kicked in there was nothing.

Once I arrived at Morston Quay I grabbed myself a coffee from the National Trust station there, and sat in the little viewing tower, charging my devices and giving myself a break. 

Going to see the seals would make this a very late day, as it was a 15 mile section, consisting of a 5 mile stretch of shingle and Sheringham’s hills. But there was no check in at Beeston, I could just arrive. I sent a message over to Gin to let her know about this, and all she said was just to let her know when I arrived.

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Due to the tide my seal trip didn’t board until 12. There are at least 4 trip providers, all offering the same thing at a similar cost. I went with Beans Boat Trips, as they are who we went with in my childhood. I would definitely advise booking in advance, for a Thursday in term time my boat was still full- I just called up to reserve and paid on arrival. 

As you sail out through Blakeney Harbour the skipper gives you a very funny commentary about the history and nature in the area, pointing out historical boats and all the wildlife.

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As you go past the blue old lifeboat building ( the National Trust job of dreams! The rangers live there all year round) and go around the point – the seals are there!

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This was the quieter time of year for seals but there were still at least 50. If you brave the weather earlier or later in the year the numbers can go up to way over 1000. Beans do trips all year round – you might just want to wrap up warm!

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There are quite a few boats out at this time but it never feels crowded or that you are disturbing the seals. You make quite a few passes on both sides of the boat so it really feels like you get your fill.

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There then was the opportunity to get off at the Nature Reserve and have an explore for an hour, before getting picked up by another boat. As much as I wanted to do this ( and will definitely return) I wanted to arrive at the final campsite in daylight.

Once we moored back up at Morston Quay I found toilets and then headed back onto the coastal path to walk the short but stunning section down to Blakeney Quay. So many summers were spent here crab fishing and playing in the mud. It has cute shops on little streets and there is plenty of options for food.This little town is so high up on the oh I wish I could live here list – maybe one day! 

Blakeney to Cley was another beautifully maintained and signposted footpath with something to see in every direction. To the point where you find yourself turning in circles every now and again to take it all in. The breeze whips across the flats and keeps you cool but in the heat I can imagine his section of the walk ( and sections similar behind me) would have been scorching. So definitely remember a good hat!

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As Cley windmill looms in the distance you head inland to this lovely little village. Cley windmill is actually on the market POA obviously, but if you have a few millions laying around maybe this is the windmill for you!!!

I  had a nose in some of the shop windows and popped into the farm shop to buy a mini bottle of bubbles ( that I have since decided that I am keeping and am saving for when I complete the entire walk next year) before heading off down the *very* narrow streets to  NWT Cley Marshes, Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s oldest nature reserve. It was purchased in 1926 to be held ‘in perpetuity as a bird breeding sanctuary‘. They have a lovely eco friendly visitor centre that looks out over the coast.

It’s worth pointing out that this is the last loo break before Sheringham. 

I had already decided that I was going to take the suggested detour that is in the MarGins guide. I did not fancy 5 miles of shingle. 

Turns out I didn’t fancy ANY miles of shingle. This was hands down the most difficult section of the whole coast path.

Stunning? Yes.

Relaxing waves? Yes.

But oh boy did that shingle go on.

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And on

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Eventually I reached solid ground – and a familiar sight – a National Trust Logo for Sheringham Park, my current stomping ground. I meandered along the cliff top and this was where I had my first (and only) bathroom conundrum. After spending a year               (*slight* exaggeration) on the beach I discovered that I could rather do with the toilet. But the nearest one was definitely in Sheringham.

It was danger wee time.

Except every time I thought “yes- here is a good spot” a Wild Runner would appear -literally out of nowhere!!

3 times this happened – I’d reach the perfect spot and BAM- Runner! One time I actually spoke out loud ” I really need a wee” and a runner appeared directly behind me! Luckily he had his headphones in so I don’t think he heard me! That or he had a giggle.

In the end the danger was too real – so I powered on into Sheringham and went into the first pub I could find. Bladder relieved it was time to tackle Beeston Bump before heading downhill to my beautiful tent – Samphire.

I love this tent!

I know I have said this before but knowing that everything is all set up and waiting for you puts a real bounce in your step. The whole Curlew Package is so well organised you never have to worry about anything.

You can shower as soon as you arrive.

Or put the kettle on.

Or stretch!

This time I stretched the most I have ever done – following Gin’s guide and some random yoga I remember. It really helped, and made my last night in the tent so much more relaxing.

I had breakfast for dinner, settled in the camping chair and read until I was falling asleep.

The home straight was the next day – but I really didn’t want it to end!

In the next post – Mammoths, fish and chips and the end…. for now!

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