We started our walk from Brancaster Church, where there is parking for a few cars, though probably not on Sundays. There is a car park down on the beach a mile below the village but beware! The tide cuts off the access road twice a day and you could find yourself waiting several hours to retrieve your car.
The Norfolk Coast Path comes in a variety of guises, from cliff-top tracks to stretches across wide lonely beaches – here, walking eastwards, it follows the landward side of a great marsh of reed beds and muddy creeks, with nary a glimpse of the sea – though you can see in the distance the raised ground of Scolt Head.
For birders who like wildfowl it must be a positive heaven at the right time of the year. But on our day there were few birds about except gulls and a couple of snipe.
The walk eastwards is entirely on duckboards, though we diverted to see the site of the Roman fort at Branodonum. There are no ruins, but the banks and hollows give some idea of the scale of the fort that once guarded the little port below. It was manned by Roman recruits from Dalmatia. What a strange land they found themselves in.
Another mile of walking found us at Brancaster Staithe, given over to leisure boating now, though there are traces of the fishing and crabbing port it must have been once. And there are a few interesting old buildings from its heyday.
We came inland soon afterwards to look at the lovely round-towered flint church at Burnham Deepdale, which has one of the oldest fonts in England – early Norman, and there is some fine medieval glass as well. But come back and look at tomorrow’s blog and I’ll look at this in detail.
We walked up a lane into a fine stretch of woodland known as The Downs. It had all the look of origins in shooting, though it was quiet enough on our walking day. And then on to Barrow Common, a tiny segment of Norfolk heathland, now a nature reserve with access on foot under the CRoW legislation. A place of flint, fungi and brambles.
Interesting to remember that well into Victorian times and the advent of modern agriculture much of the county must have looked like this. And how familiar those heathlands must have been to earlier roamers like the writer George Borrow.
It was only from these heights that we finally glimpsed the sea.
A long and probably quite ancient path took us back down to the Roman fort and a return to Brancaster.
A strange coastal walk in so many ways. A reminder that the coast is actually a lot more than the edge of the sea.
Come back tomorrow for a glimpse of history at Burnham Deepdale church, with a decorated font that tells us so much about England’s rural history.