Friday, 23 April 2021

A Circle By The Sea...

...or more precisely an irregular loop of a walk on the North Norfolk coast.



One day I promise I'll fully explore one of the villages of North Norfolk, as they are very different, architecturally and aesthetically, from the villages in my part of the world. But for today you'll have to make do with this shot, taken where we parked the car on Salthouse village green, and the next one, as we began our walk.



Salthouse was once a much more important place than it is today; it had a harbour for sea-going vessels and was a leading producer of salt. "Salthouse" means nothing more cryptic than a building for storing salt. But we're talking here about several centuries ago and since that time the coast has undergone many changes, destroying any archaeological evidence.



As befits this once important place it has a large medieval church which seems to have been built around the year 1500 and not much changed since. As the ports of this part of the coast declined there was never enough money to do much more than repair what was already in existence. One day I shall come back and investigate further.



But now we're making the gentle ascent up on to Salthouse Heath which overlooks the village. This extensive area of sandy soils was dumped here by a retreating ice sheet during the Anglian Glaciation, about 450,000 years ago. The soils here are pretty worthless for most agriculture but give rise to interesting flora and fauna - probably at their best later in the summer.



This rare hill in the otherwise flat topography was put to military use during WWII when a radar station was built here, parts of which remains today.



The Heath, despite its modest elevation, gives good views down on to the church. Like most churches in coastal locations, it stands in a large churchyard, a grim reminder that they frequently had to bury the bodies of those drowned at sea and then washed up on the shoreline. It's hard to imagine such things on such a fine sunny morning.



A little to the west of the church lies the huddle of red roofs of the main part of Salthouse village, with the saltmarsh and the sea behind it.



These are part of the crew who trim the heathland, which is maintained to provide a mosaic of environments for the wildlife.



It was then time to find the path leading downhill, through farmland, down to the marshes and the sea. The yellow-green plant in the foreground is called Alexanders. I meant to take a photo of it, but if you follow the link you can find out all about it.



At the bottom of the slope there's a rather attractive pool, known as Snipes Marsh. Then we quickly cross the road and follow a bank, between the reedbeds of Cley Nature Reserve and Arnold's Marsh, towards the sea,



Peering across Arnold's Marsh you can make out the tower of Salthouse Church once again. Many of the churches along this coast are built in prominent locations, clearly visible from the sea, and this may well have been so that the towers could act as "landmarks", helping sailors to fix their positions and navigate their way through the narrow channels into port.



The beach here is a shifting shingle bank. A line of old iron posts may be part of old sea defences or maybe a relic from the Second World War. it's not the easiest surface to walk on, but it's a little easier on the landward side.



These brackish pools are much to the taste of wading birds such as Avocet, Godwits, Redshank, Knot and Dunlin, though sorting them out while looking towards the sun is no easy task.



The trick when tramping along the shingle is to know when it's time to turn inland again. On such a clear day as this it wasn't too much of a problem.



You just have to watch out for this old wartime pillbox on a slightly raised area called the Great Eye ("eye" being the name for an island in these parts, which I believe comes from the Viking word "øy"). There was once a very odd-looking house standing here, a folly built by someone called Onesiphorus Randall, (England is a land of eccentrics!).



And then we're soon back at Salthouse, completing a circuit of between five and six miles, depending on how much you roam about on the heath.


Take care.
 

31 comments:

  1. I've eaten at "Cookies" in Salthouse a few times when I have been in England. Great smoked fish!

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  2. Lovely round walk John and in such diffeent terrain from your usual ones. I know this part of the world well coming as I do from Lincolnshire - this was not all that far to go on holiday - the Broads was a favourite.

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  3. Is there a book of hiking routes that helps you find all of these interesting places to hike? I often wonder how you find your way through all of these varied fields and towns. You could make a map book for other hikers from all of your photos and details. Well done!

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    1. The maps of the Ordnance Survey (our national mapping agency) are extremely detailed. I mostly like to invent my own routes, though many are available in books and online, which I also plunder from time to time.

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  4. How I love walking with you. Many, many thanks.

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  5. This sure was a fine walk...love the photo where you are looking back and down at the church.

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  6. A perfect day for that hike. I'm curious about the church and look forward to your revisit there.

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  7. The view from the Heath is stunning. Excellent photos!

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  8. These photos are a feast for the eyes. My favourite is the church from a distance. The countryside is beautiful, a great place for a wander.

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  9. Another wonderful walk, thank you.

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  10. Really beautiful landscape. Lovely photos.

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  11. That looks a pretty wild place. The church sure does stand out on the rise. It looked a long way to walk to the beach. Ouch walking on pebbles isn't fun. Beautiful shots of the beach.

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  12. Hi John - this was fascinating and just beautiful - the right day to walk around. So much change has happened in England ... and you've shown us so much ... gosh I'd love to visit ... thank you - wonderful ... all the best - Hilary

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  13. Lovely walking with you. Last photo, I see the duck. But what, I wonder, is coming out of that house's chimney to the left? I finally figured it was just light and shadow of the house behind it.

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  14. Oh! for a lovely walk along a desolate beach in Norfolk, lucky you. I love the architecture in Norfolk it so distinctive from anywhere else. What a fine church Salthouse has for such a very small community.

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  15. Such a beautiful walk there. I love seeing the shoreline and the breaking waves.

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  16. I love how you weave in history and facts with your photographs. Someday I hope to visit your lovely country and take lots of walks to explore these beautiful villages.

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  17. beautiful panoramas and the goats wear an original dress

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  18. Quite a different landscape from your usual haunts!

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  19. Such a great walk and how wonderful to see the sea. I like the look of the church too:)

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  20. A very interesting walk today. I love those goats. Their coats are fabulous! Enjoy your day, hugs, Edna B.

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  21. So interesting, John. I wonder, is it really dry there--there ground looks that way? The faraway photo of the church, and those waves, are my favorites. I hope you will go back and photograph the buildings, and how they are different from your part of the country.

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    1. The sandy soil drains freely so it's always fairly dry, but we've also had one of the driest Aprils on record.

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  22. I love that part of the world; I enjoyed revisiting through your photos.

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  23. I always learn so much from your posts.

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  24. Lovely walk and very educative post!

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  25. So nice to see the coast. I guess I am feeling more stir crazy than I realize.

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  26. I have enjoyed reading of your 'loop' walk John!
    How the shingle beach has changed since the storm surge of 2013! Do you remember the Coffee vendor who used to be on the car park...both are no longer there. I find it difficult walking on the shingle so I do not venture far on to it when visiting Salthouse.

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  27. The ancient church is astounding John, 500 years old and still standing! The higher view of the church looking down to the sea is fabulous. I may be biased but views of the sea/ocean fill me with happy 😉

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