Distance: 17.5 miles
Weather: High cloud, some sun
Number of twitchers with scopes trained on us: 14
Number of delightful churches passed: 2
If you have a look at a map you'll see that Great Yarmouth isn't at all far up the coast from Lowestoft. Only about 9 miles, in fact, and when I first plotted the route I checked to see whether it was possible to walk up that section of coast (it is). However, I decided that the extra miles were worthwhile to walk inland, via Burgh Castle and Breydon Water. The last time I visited East Anglia was in 1981, for a 1 week family holiday, and such was my age in 1981 that I don't recall much about the landscape. The most novel route for me today was therefore going to be the inland option (figuring that I pretty well know what a section of coast looks like).
Things were reasonably unremarkable for the first ten miles. It was pleasing farmland and lovely villages (one of the photos on this post is of the primary school at Somerleyton; it took us a while to pass through that village as we paused to admire almost all that we saw), but nothing massively remarkable.
Then we reached Belton and joined the River Waveney, and suddenly, as the view opened up over the Broads, it was remarkable indeed for someone who's not seen this landscape before. I often complain that we live in a flat area (which we do; the only notable ascent on some of my local circuits comes in climbing over stiles), but that flatness is nothing compared to this.
The lack of hedgerows here makes a big difference. It's not just flat, but open and flat, such that at any moment you can see a handfull of picture-postcard windmills. Then there is the occasional yacht, whose progess towards you can be seen from quite a distance. I found it all quite lovely.
There was a bit of history too. In 280AD the romans built a fort at Burgh Castle (although I suspect that it wasn't called Burgh Castle at the time...), and three of the mighty walls remain on the site. It was as we diverted to inspect the remains that we felt a little conspicuous as a flock of twitchers had apparently seen something in our general direction. I expected to encounter birdwatchers, but not such a large group, all armed with tripods and scopes and all, apparently trained on us!
I would say that it was just a stroll along Breydon Water to Gt Yarmouth, except that we found that we were still in 'training walk' mode, rather than the more chilled 'Big Walk' mode. As such there was no strolling today, as demonstrate by the fact that we covered 17.5 miles in 5.5 hours. Tomorrow we will remind ourselves that this isn't a race, and will slow down to a more appropriate pace.
Finishing our day so fast, we found ourselves with an afternoon at our disposal, so we went for a walk...but only around Gt Yarmouth.
(Alan and Alan: thank you for the Confucius quotations - both very true!)
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