The day dawned bright and sunny with blue sky and fluffy white clouds so it looked like I would be able to put my plans of the previous evening into action. A few weeks previously I had been watching one of the many property relocation programmes on tv - the featured couple were looking to live somewhere in north Norfolk and one of the places it showed was Holkham beach. It looked fabulous, and as I'd never been there I put it down as a place I just had to visit when I could. On my holiday in June I never went any further along that coast than Wells and as there were another couple of places I wanted to see, also along that coast, it should make for a nice day out.
It was mid morning before I disconnected the awning and set out for the day - I had a long way to go but I was in no rush, so with a cd to sing along to I settled down to enjoy the drive. I followed the same route as in June, along the A149 through North Walsham to Sheringham then along through the various little villages to Wells. Only a couple of miles from Wells was Holkham village, and the way to the beach was down a tree-lined private drive which must have been about a mile long and was part of the Holkham Hall estate. It looked like the beach was a very popular place as cars were parked on the grass verges all the way down both sides of the drive - I drove all the way down to the end without finding a parking space and was two thirds of the way back towards the main road before I found one in the shade of a tree. At the other side of the wire fence in front of me was a huge field and not far from the fence a herd of placid-looking cows, some of them obviously still quite young, were lying peacefully in the grass. There was a ticket machine not far away so thinking it would cost me an arm and a leg to park I took plenty of change with me to get a ticket, but the fee wasn't too bad - £2.50 for all day which, although I wasn't staying all day, I thought was very reasonable. I've paid that much for an hour in some places.
With the ticket stuck in the windscreen and the dogs on the lead I set off down the drive to the beach; it was a very pleasant walk with fields on either side and at the end the drive opened out with a large catering wagon on one side and several tables and bench seats set out on the other. The drive became a footpath there which in turn became a boardwalk skirting the nearby pine woods and ending in the dunes - and what a sight met my eyes. A huge semi-circular bay was backed by the pine woods and just down below the dunes was a narrow beach where several families were enjoying the sunshine. A vast expanse of wet sand spread out in front of me and in the distance were more dunes and the sea. Holidaymakers of all ages were trekking across the sand, some with dogs, some even pushing prams - this was obviously only one part of Holkham beach and the main beach was out beyond the far dunes. And I was glad I was wearing beach sandals as it looked like I was going to get wet feet on my way out there! A path led from the dunes to the beach below and once I'd got away from there I let the dogs off the lead - the wet sand was quite slippery in places so it was easier to walk without holding on to them. About halfway out towards the sea a 'river' flowed through a wide channel, cutting the beach in half - I don't know where it came from, but although it wasn't very deep it was quite fast flowing.
I had to cross the 'river' to get to where I wanted to be but Sophie, with her dislike of water, wasn't very keen so I had to put her back on the lead while we paddled across - Sugar, bless her, just trotted straight in and reached the other side before me. At one point a group of horse riders trotted past me but once they were away from most of the holidaymakers they broke into a canter then a gallop, going for quite a distance before coming back towards me, their manes and tails flying and hooves thudding on the sand.
I headed across to the dunes and reaching them I walked up to the top and stood for several minutes surveying the scene, glad that I had made the effort to go all the way out there. The beach was vast and stretched for miles, and there was so much space that you could probably drop the whole of Norfolk's population there and it still wouldn't be crowded.
From the dunes I walked out in a 'one o' clock' direction towards the sea then parallel to it, eventually crossing back across the 'river' where it was at its shallowest as it flowed across the beach to join the sea. Sophie still wasn't keen on crossing but with a bit of persuasion she did it once she realised that the water there wasn't much above her paws. I walked for quite a distance before turning and heading back towards the inner dunes and the pine woods - with other places to see I didn't want to linger on the beach for too long, but it was such a fantastic place I could quite easily have stayed there for the rest of the afternoon.
On the way back to the van I stopped at the catering wagon to get something to eat and drink - I didn't want a burger and the sandwiches were a bit on the pricey side for what they were so I settled for a sausage roll and a coffee and went over to sit at one of the tables. The sausage roll was quite nice but the same couldn't be said for the coffee - it was vile, and tasted just like that Camp brand of coffee from years ago, the liquid stuff which comes in a bottle and probably hasn't been anywhere near any proper coffee beans. Needless to say, I only drank as much as I needed to and left the rest. Note to self - if I ever go there again I'll take my camping stove and brew my own!
With the dogs settled back in the van I consulted my map book for the next place on my list. Both the places I wanted to visit were further west along the same main road and as I would be driving back the way I had come I decided to go to the furthest one first and work my way back from there. I didn't know what was at either place but as it was only just over eight miles to the furthest one it wouldn't be long before I found out.
- Hi! I'm Eunice and I live in Bolton, Lancashire, with my two dogs Sophie and Sugar and an assortment of cats - well it used to be Sophie and Sugar, now it's Sophie and Poppie. I first began camping back in 1997 when my then partner took me to Anglesey for my birthday weekend. We slept in the back of the car - a hatchback - using the cushions off the settee at home as a mattress, and cooked and brewed up on a single burner camping stove. The site was good, the views were great, the weather fantastic and I was completely hooked. Following that weekend we got a two-man tent and some proper accessories and returned to Anglesey two weeks later, then over time we progressed to a three-man tent followed by an old trailer tent, then a new trailer tent, a campervan and finally a caravan. When my partner decided that the grass was greener on the other side of the street - literally - in April 2009 and I suddenly found myself alone after fifteen years, I decided there was no way I was going to give up camping and caravanning if I could cope on my own. This blog is the story of my travels, trials and tribulations since becoming a solo camper - I hope you like it