Sunday, 16 July 2017

Moore Nature Reserve

Warm and sunny day at Moore Nature Reserve near Warrington.
Distance walked 6 miles
Tips for a better day out: charge camera beforehand and don't lock the car keys in the boot.

Tufty ducks
Grey heron
Ringlet butterfly
Moorhen and babies
Orange dragonfly
Great crested grebe and stripy juvenile
Greylag geese
Canada geese
Little ringed plovers
Pied wagtail
Sand Martin
Little grebe
Black headed gull
Sedge Warbler
Greater spotted woodpecker
Mute Swan
Willow warbler

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Round Norfolk Walk Day 14 - Acle to Great Yarmouth

Distance: 13.5 miles
Ascent: 20m ish
Weather: hot
Egyptian geese, mute swans, cormorants, blue butterflies, greylag, marsh harrier, kestrel, green veined white butterfly, little egret, shelducks and babies, godwit, black-backed gulls

The Travelodge didn't serve breakfast,  so we bought it at the M&S food and coffee shop at the garage opposite. We took our coffee to a bench in woods on the way back to join the Weavers' Way path, and were visited by a friendly puppy.

Out from under the trees, it was hot. The walk took us out of town south through the reedbed of Damgate Marshes. We saw  a kestrel, marsh harrier, flappy grey heron and there were lots of sedge warblers.

Entering a meadow cow field, it was important to remember to avoid the very flat green surfaces, as the ponds and drainage ditches had smooth green scummy tops. It was hot.

A lane lead out to the Halvergate, we stopped briefly to look at oystercatcher and lapwing in the field, and my shoes started sinking into the road. Did I mention it was hot?

Out onto the broads, dry grassy paths led to Mutton's Drainage Mill and around the ditches. A couple coming the other way warned us to beware of the dangerous cows as they'd been chased. Said cows were slightly nervous but not aggressive,  which was good for a few reasons - I didn't really want to run carrying a big bag, there was nowhere to run to and it was sooo hot.

As well as cows, there were lots of butterflies and a hare. We crossed the railway line at Berney Arms Station (which is a bit lacking in stationnicity) and then onto the riverside by Berney Arms windmill. The Berney Arms itself is a pub by the river. It was closed.

We walked along the banks of the Berney Arms Reach and passed Berney Marsh, to reach the River Yare. The tide was in and the water level high so there was no mud flats today.

It clouded over slightly around lunchtime and there was a breeze off the water, so it was less hot here, which was a relief. The route leads into Great Yarmouth along the northern side of the river, sections of path rather overgrown with grass and thistles, which is good for the butterflies and ladybirds but not so good for my legs which have come out in a delightful rash.

Towards civilisation, there was a busy road with cars and buses, and the railway line, slightly at odds with the sight of a sailing boat gliding by. We passed a holiday park where the fun never stops... If it ever starts,  although they do have a laundrette which is quite appealing right now.

Around the end of the river, we were under the bridge and into town (cue broken glass and graffiti) and Asda car park. We walked to the seafront by a slightly circuitous route, to complete the bit of the Angle's Way we'd missed two weeks ago, then thorough the main street to the promenade and our hotel.

We've had a lovely dinner (including surprise snails) and been to the arcade, where I failed to win a Pokémon in the 2p slots but we didn't get seagull'd so I'm calling it a win.

Round Norfolk Walk Day 13 - Wayford Bridge to Acle

Distance: 20.6 miles
Ascent: 20m
Weather: cloudy start, warm and sunny
Solid looking grey bird that we decided was a cuckoo
Little grebe
Bearded tit?? No :(

We were away before 9am, it is cooler today, cloudy with blue sky in the east.
Looking at the map, today promised to be more interesting with quite a few points of interest, but we had to get there first.

There was road, and then road. A dilapidated windmill and a tree tunnel through a hedge full of spiders' webs that was quite horrible, then some road. The biggest, pinkest thatched cottage I've ever seen, then some more road. We walked by the entrance to the nature reserve but there are no paths through it so we didn't go in and we saw the edge of Hickling Broad. From the road I saw brief glimpses of a kestrel, a buzzard, a squirrel, a small mammal scurrying across the road and a flat bunny that hadn't scurried fast enough.

After nearly 8 miles, we came on to a lane that was at least signed as a no through road so there was less traffic to worry about and I started to relax.  Nearly got squished by a tractor.

Very soon after we were on to the nature reserve,  welcomed enthusiastically by Mr Squirrel.

There were some creamy yellow and black big butterflies that were possibly swallowtails (tbc). Lots of sedge warblers, reed buntings, a cuckoo, great crested grebe and a goosander. Tufty ducks, avocets, a grey heron, little egrets and a sparrowhawk with its dinner.

We got caught up in some birding excitement, while watching a crow on a post being flapped at ineffectually by an avocet,  a very enthusiastic lady (who was talking rapidly on the phone) asked us if we were looking for the black winged stilts. We hadn't been,  but we were now. I didn't even know there were birds called stilts. They are rare and we've seen them.
We also saw a crane.

The Thurne Riverside is a strange rivery suburb with chalets, huts and a pretend windmill,  where people paint fences and sit and read the paper.

Higham Bridge is an old medieval stone bridge, still used by normal traffic,  bunches boatyard, where we had lunch and an ice cream,  watching the swans, greylag and Egyptian geese and ducks.

There were lots of boats going up and down the river of various shapes and sizes, from tiny dayboats to bigger yachts driven by a groups of loud, can swilling gents.

The sailing boats in sail glided quietly and elegantly by, compared to the chugging of the engines, however it probably takes more skill. We ended our day in Acle,  trying to cross a busy roundabout at rush hour,  then went for a fantastic tapas dinner.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Round Norfolk Walk Day 12 - Aylsham to Wayford Bridge

Distance: 16 miles
Ascent: 20m ha ha
Weather: hot
Bunny, squirrel, bees, butterflies, mute swans, buzzard, midges

A warm night, including a moment of panic when Rob thought he might have left his trousers behind at the last hotel. He hadn't.

We retraced our steps out of Aylsham via the church yard and lanes. Then we were onto the disused railway line that was our route for most of the day. We crossed the River Carr, seeing two fish. Fish!

It was hot and sunny, with a light breeze, pleasant in the shade.  The buzzing of the bees on the brambles was quite loud, and it was a good day for butterflies. They don't stay still enough to get a good look, but I'm pretty sure there were small tortoiseshell, gatekeepers, small copper, small skipper, peacock, painted lady and speckled wood.

North of Worstead we met some woolly sheep, which looked like cotswold sheep and some balwens.

Crossing a road, there was a sign by the side of the road saying 11 miles from Cromer - we've walked 28...

Lunch was had at bench looking over some nettles at cows in a meadow, while a buzzard looked at the cows and we looked at some small birds, chaffinch, goldfinch and long-tailed tits. Along the way we also saw green yellow stripy dragonflies and some red spiky flowers that could have been willowherb, could have been nightshade.

We met chap on a bicycle with a splendid beard, he could have got at least three kittens in that one, and then were passed by a chap on an electric bike smoking a cigarette, which is cheating. There was also a house called Kia-Ora, which is dedication.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Round Norfolk Walk Day 11 - Cromer to Aylsham

Distance: 18.5 miles
Ascent: 180m
Weather: hot and sunny

The Weavers' Way led us out of Cromer past Cromer Hall and the zoo (not open at this time :( ) , and we were soon out into the countryside, across meadows and along a little sunken lane. We then joined a steady stream of the going to Felbrigg Hall across the parkland - where we came across some gates of confusion which involved chains and pins. The day was warming up considerably, the shade of the big old trees much appreciated. We had cream teas at the Squire's Pantry, because it'd be rude not to.

We left the park via the lake and through woodland, on to quiet country lanes to Sustead village (black and white bird on roof) and up a farm track, which was also the lorry entrance. Thankfully our approach didn't coincide with any lorries.

Hanworth common is a apparently the largest enclosed common in England,  it had some gates and cattle grids, and greylag geese and goslings on pond. Around here a tree tried to steal my hat, and a sign warned us to beware of the peculiar dog.

The tarmac on road had begun to melt and we left a trail of footprints in it. A shady bench on the village green in Aldborough provided a perfect lunch spot, and it was decidedly quintessential. Although it wasn't warm enough for a couple of old timers on their allotment, who'd decided to have a fire.

At Thwaite Common we saw a warbler and some controversial belted galloway cows.

More lanes. And, if possible,  even hotter.
There was some sheep shearing taking place,  up on an open hillside, with skylarks, chaffinches and lots of pigeons. The Weavers's Way is named for the history of fabric in the area before the industrial revolution; we'll be going through Worstead...   now a commonly known woolly term. However although we've seen a few sheep, most of the land is now used for crop farming and posh houses.

One field of crops had a very bouncy deer in it. Also small red damselflies and big blue dragonflies.

Arriving at Blickling Hall, birthplace of Anne Boleyn, we entered the park by Fisherman's lake, where there were lots of benches. But we had no time for seats; we were going to have cake.  Coffee and cake was achieved at the National Trust cafe, which had the bonus of air-conditioning.

Then we were back out for the short walk on the lanes and footpaths (squirrel and mistle thrush) into Aylsham. It is hot, but at least we've managed to open the window. We haven't dared investigate the state of the Dairy Milk bar.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Round Norfolk Walk Day 10 - Cley To Cromer

Distance: 13.5 miles
Ascent: 150m
Weather: warm, sunny spells
Avocet, oystercatcher, common gulls, common terns, skylarks
Yellow horned poppy, teasles, thift, kidney vetch, escaped barley

A late-ish start, we were slowed even more by calling in at the delicatessen for very carefully prepared lunch.

The path follows the other side of the river to the beach - where some brave girls had been in for a dip. The tide was in and we walked along the pebbles a while, before moving down to the shoreline,  the wet sand easier going although we had to avoid the waves. A couple of seals popped their heads out of the water to watch us.

We had a elevenses after only 3.5 miles (shingle is slow) and some flapjack, deciding that the birds diving for fish are common terns.

At a low sandy bank, sand martens were flying in and out of holes, we left the beach to follow the path around the back of the mounds of gravel (apparently they used to move this to maintain the footpath but now just let nature take its course) where there was odd crunchy gravelly grass and patches of still wet bog. Jets were practising maneuvers and I was too  busy watching them and not where I was going, and now have one rather brown sock.

We passed the artillary guns of the Muckleburgh military collection, well fenced in, and walked on the shingle, which is slow going and hard on the ankles.

At Weybourne, various activities were taking place, sea fishing, oil painting,  bird watching and tank driving. Some children on a geography field trip were measuring things with with sticks and string and a couple in deckchairs were settled in for the day.

We left the pebbles and headed up on to the cliffs, which rose steadily higher. Over the fields, the steam trains were chuffing along merrily.

Sheringham golf course has holes on the grass up on the cliffs, partly terraced,  but still steep in places - one player was running down after their trolley. Up on the top of the cliffs is the lookout station with a few benches around it, one of which came free just as we approached so we took advantage and stopped for lunch. The jet fighters circled overhead.

At Sheringham we walked along the prom, passing the beach huts and the groynes. We missed the turning, possibly distracted by the groynes, so had to go back a bit. We went up to Beeston Bump, the top occupied by sparrows,  admiring the view to Cromer - caravans as far as the eye can see. Coming down the other side there is a small nature area with a board showing the things you can see, such as short-tailed voles and kestrels. The kestrel appeared to be holding something - which turned out to be a dead shrew that someone had left there.

The path into Cromer used to follow the cliff top but the cliff top is now cliff bottom in places, so there's some detouring required. Some of the caravan parks have paths along the edge, others are not so welcoming. In town, we visited the pier and have found the start of the Weaver's Way, which we'll be starting tomorrow.

Cley Windmill

Painted by me (a few years ago - as much as I'd love to say I just got my watercolours out and did it yesterday.)