We’ve decided to go slightly further afield with our weekly walks project. This month we were able to get up to north Norfolk for a few days. It’s a place we visit a few times per year and which is day-trippable from Cambridge, so we think it’s legitimate to count it towards our 52 walk target!
4 June – Wiveton Downs – Cley-next-the-sea – Blakeney
Finally, lockdown easing, weather, and schedules all combined to allow our first trip away in our campervan this year! We stayed 3 days in north Norfolk, based at Sandringham campsite. Apart from Friday afternoon and evening, we benefited from glorious early summer weather. Friday morning being our regular walking slot, we dutifully headed off along the north coast towards Cley and Blakeney with the bonus of being accompanied by Martha this week.
We parked at Wiveton Downs on the Blakeney Esker, a glacial ridge that sits a mile or so inland from the coast, and then headed downhill in warm sunshine into Wiveton and onto the lovely village of Cley-next-the-sea, with its pretty lanes, upmarket touristy shops, and landmark windmill. We stopped in at the impressive church of St Margaret. Its huge size, given the location, attests to prosperity of this area during the middle ages.
Then the path heads out across the atmospheric coastal marshland, looping around to the larger village of Blakeney, filled with families finding Half Term entertainment by trying to catch crabs in its harbour. I took the easier approach of ordering a crab sandwich along with a pint of Southwold bitter in the White Horse Inn.
After lunch the temperature had dropped and spots of rain were appearing, but its still a pleasant walk out of Blakeney on the Norfolk Coast Path and then cutting inland and cross country uphill back to Wiveton. Varied landscapes, interesting and attractive villages, sunshine and showers, a crab sandwich and a pint – perhaps the perfect 7 mile walk?
11 June – Buckden to Offord-Cluny
Walk 9 in Cambridgeshire Circular Walks. 5.5 miles. From Church Lane Buckden via Manor Gardens and the footpath towards Diddington, turning along Diddington Brook to the Great Ouse. Looping through Offord-Cluny village and back to Buckden via Mill Rd and Leaden’s Lane.
This might be the last in our now fairly extensive collection of walks that incorporate reclaimed gravel pits and the Great Ouse.
We started out in Buckden, which is dominated by the 15th century Bishop’s Palace and the adjacent All Saints Church. Disappointingly, both this church, and the smaller medieval church at Offord-Cluny later in the walk were locked up, unlike all the other churches we’ve come across in recent weeks.
The walk exits Buckden through some unexciting housing estates, but soon enough is out in the country, winding between those gravel pit lakes on paths which, today, were swarming with thousands of bright blue damselflies.
At various points on this route you pass notable transport routes, ancient and modern. Buckden sits in the A1, the old Great North Road, and its legacy as a stopping-off point is evident in its former coaching inns. Our path crossed and re-crossed the main East Coast rail-line. And crossings of the various arms of the Great Ouse at Offord-Cluny included a bridge over a loch at which we stopped to watch the boats passing through. Rather remarkably, as we sat down to drink our coffee beside the loch, the skipper of the longboat that drew in to pass through turned out to be an ex-colleague of Joy’s who had retired to live part of the year on his boat. Impressed by this coincidence, we headed back to Buckden and picked up lunch in one of the aforementioned former coaching inns, the Lion Inn. It appears to be up for sale, and perhaps could benefit from a bit of a refresh.
This was a nice-enough walk, particularly if you are local to it, but probably doesn’t justify the half hour drive for us, given the many closer options on our list – so probably a one-off.