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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Hunstanton & The Norfolk Coast Path, UK – Mar. 8-9, 2012

When we were getting The Noses ready for this trip, I would tell them that the flight might be difficult, but, “You just wait until you are in Europe!  Everyone loves dogs over there.”  Well, this was not true in London.  Indeed, people on the street would shy away from us when passing (causing River to become even more interested in them, of course.)  But starting with the rental staff at Amber Leisure where The Noses were loved and loved while we completed the paperwork for Curry, the attitudes have changed dramatically.  I can almost hear River saying, “It’s about time.”   Rosco, of course, could care less.  But I am getting ahead of myself; there are two days to cover before we find The Noses relaxing next to a cozy fire in a country pub.

Our trip from Cambridge to Hunstanton was a short 50 miles but also Alan’s first day of driving.  He did rather well, if I do say so, but I am partial to the skills of his navigator.  It is all in the preparation, you see.

The drive went so well that we were confident in our ability to navigate off the A10, through two side streets and into Dickie’s Pet Center to secure some wheat-free food for The Royals.  I mean The Noses.   Having accomplished this major task in record time, we found our destination close at hand and the day still young so we decided to pass by our reserved caravan park in King’s Lynn and head into Hunstanton to check things out.  I knew I wanted to either start or end the Norwalk Coast Path hike somewhere around the area and thought it would be a good idea to check out the parking situation.   What a great idea it turned out to be!  On the way we saw multiple signs for caravan camping as well as the very promising sign: “For the Coasthopper, follow the signs to Cliff.”  Being Coasthoppers personified, we did just that.

It turns out there is a bus that goes up and down the coastline which would enable us to ride up to a jumping off point and hike back.  Thus a new plan was born:  We scrapped our reservations in King’s Lynn and checked out two caravan parks in Hunstanton, thus saving us 15 miles of driving.  We booked two nights in Searles Leisure Park opting for a full-hookup site so we could see what that entails.  Ahh, if we only had Salt!  It would be the perfect spot for Salt with her grey- and black-tanks able to drain at will after being connected to the pitch’s in-ground receptacles (the first we have seen in England.)  However, Curry, as previously noted, has a cartridge system for the black waste and a grey tank whose exit valve requires you to position the camper over a dumping area in order to drain the water directly down; i.e., there is no hose from Curry’s grey tank to hook to an in-pitch drain.  So . . . the pitch was worth something for the experience (and at £25 per night it was within our budget) but we were only able to utilize the fresh water filling hose and, of course, electricity.

After setting up, we leashed up the dogs and took them over to the beach where we enjoyed our first look at the edge of England while The Noses were frantically running off leash and playing with other dogs in the sand.  I didn’t bother taking any pictures as I “knew” we’d be walking along the coast the following day.  (From now on Carpe Pictum – I will not make this mistake again!)

The next morning, we got up early and walked a half mile to the bus stop.  We picked up the Coasthopper and took it along the coast through a variety of charming old towns (check out Burnham Market if you want posh and charming in one stop) to our jumping off point, Burnham Overy Staithe.  (Don’t ask me to pronounce these names!) 

The hike started in a field of what we think was potato plants but soon changed to just open fields.  Here we were confident in letting the dogs off leash—much to their enjoyment.  We hiked for over three miles and never saw the ocean let alone a beach.   At a little over four miles, starving, we walked into Brancaster Staithe and found The White Horse Inn (and Pub.)  Alan went in to see if dogs would be allowed and was assured they were.  I guess so!  After we sat down, at least four other dogs came rambling in, owners in tow.  But what a delightful lunch!  Guiness and fish and chips right next to a blazing hot wood stove.  (It is not very cold here – about 50 degrees but there is a strong, cold wind which chills you to the bone.)

After a lunch that fattening, we made ourselves hike some more and continued down the Norwalk Coast Path to Brancaster, chalking up over eight miles in our first day out!  We had a 45 minute wait for the bus (Dorothy, we are not in London anymore!) but arrived home in time for a quick stop at Tesco for groceries before showers and sundowners.

Due to my lack of carpe pictum and the lack of shoreline on our hike, you will not see any pictures of the coast (yet!)  Next stop are the moorlands of the North York Moors National Park where we hope to log many more hiking hours!