I had decided I was going to explore along the north Norfolk coast - I had been up to Cromer last year and visited Sheringham briefly about three years previously but never been any further than that, and there were a couple of places I'd read about and seen photos of which seemed interesting, so my mission that day was to find them and photograph them. As soon as I'd taken the dogs for a walk I put them in the back of the van ready for the off and disconnected the awning, then after checking I had my camera, spare batteries and money I set off on my voyage of discovery. My route took me up the A149 in the direction of Cromer, but instead of going right into Cromer itself I turned off towards Sheringham as that would be my first port of call - that was until I saw a sign pointing to the Norfolk Shire Horse Centre, and having a liking for horses I decided to go and take a look. When I got there I found that it isn't just a sanctuary for heavy horses, it also takes in many different animals including those from farms. Wandering past the large open paddocks I could see that the residents included Shetland ponies, pigs, donkeys, lamas, sheep, goats and various ducks, geese, hens and rabbits. There was also a couple of old farm buildings which had been turned into a museum with a few vintage tractors and various forms of horse-drawn farming equipment on display, and a couple of beautifully restored and painted showman's living vans.
Near to the entrance was a nice little gift shop and cafe with half a dozen tables and bench seats set on the grass outside, and by the time I'd wandered all round the sanctuary I was ready for another brew so I hitched the dogs to a table leg while I went in to get a coffee - I picked up a few information leaflets while I was in there so I spent a very pleasant quarter of an hour or so sitting in the sunshine reading them, then with the coffee finished, and satisfied that I'd seen all there was to see, I made my way back to the van for the drive into Sheringham. It didn't take long to get there, and as I approached the town centre I remembered that there was a car park on the cliff top overlooking the beach, so following the appropriate signs round a couple of side streets I found it and just about managed to get a space. A steep flight of concrete steps led from one corner of the car park down to the promenade below and I stood at the top for a few minutes to take stock of my surroundings. Looking out to sea it was hard to make out the horizon as there was quite a heat haze in the distance, but just down below me the beach was a hive of activity - it looked like Sheringham was a very popular place.
Descending the steps onto the promenade I could see a section of beach to the right which looked like it was the 'dog friendly' bit so walking past a long row of colourful beach huts I headed for there, going right out to the water's edge before letting the dogs off the lead to have a play. I even ventured in for a paddle and it was quite pleasant wandering along just over ankle deep in water while Sophie and Sugar mooched about on the sand. When I had walked almost out of 'civilisation' I turned round and retraced my steps, eventually putting the dogs back on the lead and going back up onto the promenade. As with Cromer the promenade was divided into an upper and lower level, and about halfway along was a steep concrete slipway with a couple of boats at the bottom - the slipway ran under the upper promenade and right at the top were several old fishing boats and a small museum.
Further along the lower promenade was another long row of brightly coloured beach huts and a flight of steps, and as there was nothing much to see beyond the beach huts I decided to see what was up above. The steps brought me out at a childrens playgound at one end of some nice looking cliff top gardens with a road across the other side - beyond the playground was a long lawned area and beyond that I could see the splash of colour from some flower beds. Walking along the road side of the gardens I saw that the flower beds were arranged round a flagged seating area which circled a lawn with a small pond and fountain in the centre - beyond that were more lawned areas and flower beds and further on still a nice little pond with a stream which ran through the gardens. Further on still was a large model boating pool and right at the end of the road was a golf course. The whole area was lovely, and reminded me very much of Cromer, in fact everything I'd seen of Sheringham so far seemed to be a smaller version of Cromer. The cliff top gardens, the promenade on two levels, the beach huts, and the steep concrete slipway with the fishing boats - just the same as Cromer but on a slightly smaller scale.
Having reached the end of the road I turned round and made my way back to the van - reaching the car park I remembered that not too far away was a vast expanse off cliff top and heathland ideal for giving the dogs another quick run, and I had just enough time to go and have a look. From the car park entrance I walked up the nearest street to where there was a pitch and putt course at the end; a footpath wound its way between the boundary fence and the hedges, emerging onto the cliff top way beyond the car park. Standing on the edge of the cliff and looking out to sea it struck me how clear the water was - in spite of the heat haze even quite a distance out I could still see the rocks under the surface.
Back at the van I gave the dogs a drink then settled them back on their beds ready for the next part of my journey - I was heading west and stopping off at anywhere that looked nice. I didn't know how far I would get or where I would end up but it would certainly be an interesting trip.