By the time I'd come out of the third shop and untied the dogs yet again from whatever I'd hitched them to I was beginning to lose the will to live, and I was in no mood to go all the way back to Yarmouth town centre. During a conversation with John the previous day he had asked me if I'd ever been to Walcott - the name didn't ring any bells so after he'd left I checked it out on the map book and found that it was just south of Mundesley, a place I'd been to last year, so I must have been there but I certainly didn't remember it. I still had a few shots left on my existing camera card so I decided to drive over to there and check it out, then go down to Happisburgh and see if last year's proposed beach improvements had taken place - Operation Camera Card could be put on hold till the following day.
When I finally arrived at Walcott I realised that I had indeed been to it last year - well not exactly to it, more through it, as it was situated on the coast road between Mundesley and Happisburgh, and the reason I didn't remember it was because there was absolutely nothing there. A vast expanse of open fields on the landward side of the road gave way to a row of detached bungalows, a takeaway, cafe, general store/post office and a static caravan site, followed by more bungalows as the road veered away from the shore. On the seaward side the pavement was separated from the beach by a low concrete wall and a slope - and that was Walcott in a nutshell. The beach looked nice though, and as it seemed there was free parking most of the way along the road I thought I may as well stop and take the dogs for a decent walk. I went north for quite a distance first, almost into the next village, and quite by chance came across a little garden set out with colourful toadstools, gnomes, and a miniature windmill - I don't know if it had any significance but it was rather unusual. Retracing my steps I headed back past where I'd parked the van and went a little way south; the long expanse of beach was broken at regular intervals by wooden breakwaters stretching as far as the eye could see northwards towards Mundesley, while to the south was the start of the wooden sea defences which ran all the way down to Happisburgh. When I'd seen all there was to see - which wasn't much - I returned to the van and set off towards Happisburgh.
Driving through Happisburgh village the first thing I saw was a sign pointing to the car park, which wasn't where it was before, and when I got there I was very pleasantly surprised. Instead of the rough gravel-surfaced and pot-holed piece of land which had been the previous car park this was nicely laid out with a tarmac surface and proper parking spaces surrounded by well mown grass and post-and-rail fences with a gate leading through to the cliff top; there was even an ultra modern building in one corner which I assumed housed public toilets. The parking fee was quite reasonable too so I got a ticket for an hour, released the dogs from the van and set off to see what other improvements had been made. The beach had indeed been cleaned up; gone was all the concrete and timber debris which had littered the cliff side and the sand, and the wooden sea defences had been supplemented by huge boulders placed at the base of the cliff. There was even a long access slope to the beach, which had been cut out of the cliff side and which rendered the old wooden staircase tower redundant - that was still there, and still just as ugly, but as the work was still ongoing then maybe it would eventually be demolished. I have to admit though that the whole area did look much better and nowhere near as depressing as I'd previously thought it to be.
Walking past where the car park used to be and through the caravan site on the cliff top I wandered my way round to the church; it was open to visitors, and reading a notice near the gate I found that if I'd got there a bit earlier in the afternoon I could have gone up to the top of the tower, but it had closed just half an hour previously. On such a clear sunny day there would have been a great view from up there so that's one to remember for another time. By the time I'd had a good look round the church both inside and out the hour was almost up on my car park ticket so I made my way back to the van and set off back to California. Checking my photos later on it looked like Happisburgh church tower was doing a good impression of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but that wasn't because I'd suddenly become inept at using a camera - the church grounds were on quite a steep slope and I'd been at the bottom of it when I took the photos, which unfortunately had given rise to the crazy angle at which the tower seemed to lean. I'm sure that if it really had been like that there would have been scaffolding round it and health and safety notices everywhere.
I spent another quiet evening in the awning, reading my book watching a bit of tv and making plans for the following day. First I needed to go back to the camera shop in Yarmouth and complete Operation Camera Card then I would drive south and explore a couple of places I hadn't yet been to. This was all weather permitting of course, so after I'd walked the dogs round the site and settled them in their bed for the night I took myself off to my own bed with fingers mentally crossed for another nice day; if it wasn't nice then I'd have to rethink my plans, but I would cross that bridge when I came to it.