As the weather wasn't very nice for taking photos I decided I would spend some time just driving round the lanes and villages, looking for places which would offer a decent photography opportunity when the sun came out again. My first port of call was Winterton beach to give the dogs a good run - well that was the idea, till I saw that the car park charge was £2.50. Ok if you're staying all day but I wouldn't have been there long, so with my Scrooge head on I turned the van round and drove off again. Passing through Martham and Potter Heigham I drove up to Stalham - I'd been taken to Stalham market by a friend about eighteen years ago, I remembered it was quite a sizeable market and I had the best donuts I'd ever tasted. Now I pride myself on having a good memory for places I've been to, but the small patch of land where the market is now held bore no resemblance whatsoever to what I remembered. Thinking maybe that my memory wasn't as good as I thought, I wandered along the main street and looked in the few shops which interested me then returned to the van and set off once more.
My next stop was Happisburgh (pronounced Haze-brough), and the red-and-white striped lighthouse slightly inland from the cliff top and just behind the village. Another place I'd been taken to many years before.
From there I walked to the cliff top and came across Manor Caravan Site - across the site, and set in its own grounds, was a huge and sprawling old manor house from which the camp site obviously got its name. At first glance it appeared to be derelict, but the sight of a man on a ride-on lawnmower suggested otherwise. The place looked very eerie and spooky though, and reminded me of a film set for a horror movie. Intrigued, I followed the hedge line and the stone wall as far round as I could go in the hope of finding a name plaque or something which would tell me what it was, but there was nothing. I thought maybe it could be a hide-away for a very famous person, or possibly the headquarters of a secret society - and maybe I read too many adventure books when I was a kid, and it was nothing more than a private care home for the elderly people of Norfolk. I would have loved to know though!
Unable to satisfy my curiosity over the house I wandered across the caravan site to the cliff edge - and I must say that Happisburgh beach at that point leaves a lot to be desired. The cliff has been eroded quite badly all along that stretch of coastline so sea defences have been put in place in an effort to stop the ever encroaching tides. A wooden barrier runs parallel to the cliff as far as the eye can see, backed by piles of huge boulders at strategic points. Just behind where I was standing, large piles of weather-worn timber were heaped haphazardly up against the bottom of the cliff, whether put there by man or washed up on the tide I don't know. Access down to the beach at that point is, or was, by a wooden platform leading from the caravan site to stairs built into a wooden tower. For some reason it reminded me of the scene at the end of the Michael Caine film Get Carter, where his body goes up a conveyor and gets dumped in the sea.
The caravan site itself was actually quite nice and looked to have spacious pitches, but personally I wouldn't want to stay there. The whole area had, to me at least, a very depressing atmosphere and I was glad to get away, though maybe I was doing it an injustice and in bright sunshine it would have looked totally different.
From Happisburgh I drove a few miles down the road to Sea Palling. I'd never been there before and I was quite surprised to find that access to the beach was by a wide, steeply-sloping concrete ramp going up and over the dunes. I suppose in better weather the beach would be nice, but under the grey sky it wasn't very inviting so I only stayed long enough to give Sophie and Sugar a quick run.
At the bottom of the ramp was a nice-looking little cafe, so after the dogs had had their run I left them back in the van and went for a much-needed coffee before setting off back to the site. The rest of the afternoon and evening were spent watching tv and surfing the internet, then when the dogs had been out for the final time I went to bed with fingers crossed metaphorically for nicer weather the following day.