Although I walked the previous 6 days of the Norfolk Coast Path for this blog in 2015, in 2016 Natural England opened up yet another stretch of what will be the England Coast Path, due to be completed in 2020. So I walked these next two days at a later stage.
Day 7 entails walking from Sea Palling to Caister-on-Sea (approx. 10.5 miles), with yet more diverse landscape, and, in some places, I could describe it as being in the wilderness as you walk over the open expanse of the sand dunes on Winterton Dunes Nature Reserve. Today's walk gave me lots of wonderful panoramic views inland, even though I was never far from the sea. About half of the walk is on the landward side of the dunes, the other half is on the beach and the tops of sand dunes.
I started where I left off, on the beach at Sea Palling, and followed the signs heading away from the sea. I wondered how far I would be walking inland, but was pleased to spot a sign post very soon after the shops where I was taken around the side of these shops. Eventually the path opened up onto the back of the sand dunes and sea defences and I was heading towards Waxham.
The signage is excellent along this path and there was only one place where I had to wonder if I should follow a circular walk or head towards the sea (head towards the sea – this was at Somerton Holmes access).
Much of the stretch from Sea Palling to Winterton has been purpose built into the Norfolk Coast Path – so brambles and scrub have been cut back and paths created.
I was rather hoping to spend some time walking on the beach, but the path was very much geared towards the landward side of the dunes. Actually this was fine because it would have been very hard work walking on so much sand for the day, and the paths made for an easy and “steady under foot” walk.
There were lovely open spaces, overlooking the vast stretch of meadows inland and once at Winterton, I was walking on the top of the dunes, so the views both inland and seaward were fantastic and far reaching.
I walked this stretch in the winter, so as I reached Horsey beach I was hoping for sight of some seals. Luckily I was in luck as there was a haul on the beach, the sun shining and the seals enjoying the warmth. At other times of year, the seals won’t be here.
If you’re a nature lover, then this stretch of walk will be of great interest to you. The walk from Horsey to Winterton is an SSSI site (a Site of Special Scientific Interest) so you may catch sight of dragonflies, natterjack toads and rare butterflies – a haven for wildlife enthusiasts!
Winterton-on-Sea was approximately half way. I could have stopped in the Dunes café overlooking the sea, but decided to continue as it was getting a little bit late! This next stretch to Hemsby is in a wonderfully sheltered wide open valley and makes for a very pleasant and easy walk.
Once I reached Hemsby it was then onto the beach - something I always love, considering I'm doing a Coastal Path walk.
This stretch of east coast Norfolk is so different to the north Norfolk coast. If I think back to day 1, 2 and 3, it's such a fascinating walk and has changed the whole way along. The tide doesn’t go out as far on this east side and therefore the beaches aren't quite as expansive as ones such as Holkham or Wells, but the dunes here on the east are much larger and wider than on the North coast. So the whole of the Norfolk Coast path is extremely diverse.
This next stretch from Hemsby to Caister was mostly on the beach with sandstone cliffs to my right. The tide was coming in, but I could easily walk along the beach until I reached California (yes, there is a California in Norfolk!) where I had to climb up some dedicated steps and walk just underneath the cliffs.
This wasn’t the easiest bit of walking today, and with a little bit of clambering over large boulders, I was on to more sand, concrete and more sand until I reached Caister Point and the lifeboat station. There is an alternative route into California if needed when the tide is very high. This final stretch probably wasn't the most exciting of the walk, but it was still pleasant enough.
I arrived at Caister Point and the lifeboat station and museum just as the glorious red sun had set.
The highlights of today's walk for me were definitely catching sight of the seals at Horsey, and walking along the vast open expanse of Winterton Dunes and then on into the Valley beyond.
Day 1 Hunstanton to Brancaster Staithe
Day 2 Brancaster Staithe to Wells-next-the-Sea
Day 3 Wells-next-the-Sea to Cley
Day 4 Cley to Cromer
Day 5 Cromer to Mundesley
Day 6 Mundesley to Sea Palling
Day 7 Sea Palling to Caister
Day 8 Caister to Hopton