12 of us have been walking the North Norfolk coast path from Hunstanton to Hopton on Sea. For us, veterans of the South West Coast Path, it is amazing how different the walking and seascapes can be. Unsurprisingly this walk is much flatter and the going generally easier with little in the way of the steep ups and downs of the south-west and fewer spectacular cliff-top views. Instead you get the marshes, peace and calm of the different estuaries – with wonderful bird-spotting opportunities (as for example round Blakeney pictured here). If you know your waders, you can tick off a whole section of your bird book. Waders do tend to stay still long enough for even the inexperienced to line up the binoculars.
Usually the path is well defined with lots of boardwalks but occasionally you get tested on more difficult surfaces such as the shingle beach between Cley and Weybourne.
A new experience for me is that from Weybourne to Hopton on Sea the England coast path has been implemented. On this section we did encounter minor problems: repair works to the groynes meant we had to re-trace our steps at one point; some of the route through Great Yarmouth on a busy main road was unpleasant and works on new steps at Hopton were still taking place. And the concept of spreading room, or “coastal margin”, to use its official name, is not understood by even experienced walkers. The idea behind the coastal margin is that as the cliff erodes, the path is automatically realigned. Without this legislation it would be necessary to modify the Definitive Map every time the route changed as a result of erosion.
The England coast path is a wonderful project but there is a need to improve the visibility and to explain the concept, especially the difference from a traditional coastal path, as for example is already enjoyed in Wales.