Not the sign you’d expect to see just a couple of miles away from King’s Lynn on the walk to Shepherd’s Port as the coastal path walk resumes after a break since last year.
Whilst researching the Norfolk Coastal Path it became clear that the path did not include an official route over this part, leaving a couple of options. An inland route including a lot of walking on main roads some way from the coast, or the more adventurous option of using the Ordnance Survey app to plot a route through the marsh land along the sea defence embankment, mainly through private land. So it was the second option that seems more appropriate as it also meant being nearer to the North Sea.
Leaving King’s Lynn along the banks of the River Great Ouse it’s very quiet once you’ve passed the various factories and industrial units, in fact it was to be some two hours before I saw another human being! This land is very flat and the tidal defence system is very important for miles of farms and arable land, sadly very little of this is immediately open to the public. The sea defence embankment runs for some 15 miles but within the first few minutes you come across a ‘No Entry’ sign with a padlocked gate and access only to members of Norfolk Shooting Club. Not to be put off as there’s not a human in sight a quick leg over the gate and I’m on my way albeit this is short lived. Within another mile the embankment splits into two with the options being:-
- Private – No access, no public right of way.
- Beware of the Bull
This is open countryside and I see no reason why people cannot walk the paths as long as the normal rules of the countryside apply, being to close the gate, keep dogs on leads, no litter etc.
So with this in mind I chose option B and and another leg over the gate, keeping a close watch for the Bull which may have been in attendance? It took some two or three miles before I spotted cows in the far distance, however I’d gone too far to turn back and getting closer realised that it was all mums and their young which always means a situation to approach with caution. Having been bought up on a farm as a youngster the sight of cows causes me little concern. I spent many hours collecting them from fields for milking. So on the approach a few hand claps and arm waves managed to clear the path with ease although as I passed I was certainly of interest, no doubt as there was probably some assumption it was feeding time and I might be the farmer!
This part of the coast is very flat and the tide comes in miles, the equilibrium generally controlled by the earth / grass embankment which is some five metres high and three metres wide, meaning there is marshland on the sea side which regularly has the sea covering, whilst on the other side there are crops growing and cattle grazing just like a normal farm.
The exception to this situation is any number of lodges, customised boats or just shacks that seem to have been situated on the marsh side of the embankment, accessed purely by boards placed over the soggy marshland! It’s really a sight to behold and I can only guess that these are maybe owned by bird watchers or the like as there is very limited vehicle access and its some miles away if you needed to pop to the shops!
Still a lovely walk, although as mentioned this in theory is all land denied to the general public for access, such a shame.
The plan had been for this to be a six or seven mile walk with the end being in the village of Wolferton, however with no paths or roads leading from the embankment, the decision was made to continue onto Shepherd’s Port. This making it an eleven mile walk with the last few miles being a lot closer to the beach, or sea if the tide had been. The sea goes out miles here but watch out it also comes in miles and very quickly!
Overall though a lovely day walking, hopefully an ‘official path’ is recognised through this dramatic landscape at some time soon. It was great to be able to witness sights that very few Englanders will get to see at first hand.