The last week was full of highs and lows, tears and laughter, pain and relaxation. The North Norfolk coast path was an absolute delight made better by being taken under the wing of Gin and Mark from MarGinsholidays.co.uk
They took it on themselves to organise a house ‘pub’ quiz for my first night in Norfolk. A beautiful house in Happisburgh (hayesboro) was the location for the quiz hosted by Tess and Terry who managed to quickly rustle up 15 fiercely competitive and amusing locals to take part. We laughed and joked our way to raising £105 on the night and I went to bed tired but immensely pleased with my first night in Norfolk. Tess & Terry were amazing hosts.
The next few days I spent with Gin & Marc were fun packed and full of variety. I was on BBC radio Norfolk, I walked along flat sandy beaches with blue skies, I climbed cliffs, skirted around the erosion where the North Sea is gradually eating our coastline like a slow Hungry Hippo, met the deputy mayor of Cromer as he greeted me at Cromer Pier along with ‘walkers are welcome’ group and Cromer pier staff, a reporter from ITV Anglia News lay in wait for me at Stiffkey to film me walking – this went out on TV that evening, I walked the testing shingle part of the path with a lovely lady called Val, I was interviews on North Norfolk Radio by Wayne who gave me a superhero introduction, I visited a cardiac support group where I met some lovely people and chatted about the walk, I blubbed on camera as I approached Hunstanton and many more stories in just those few days.
A side of the walk that I had never considered started to happen that would leave me both happy but immensely sad and hurting. Saying goodbye to people who I had only just started to strike up a friendship with. It is heartbreaking as I can’t even say that I would pop back in a few weeks. This is “Say Hello Wave Goodbye”. In a short space of time, I had to say goodbye to Gin and Mark and also lovely Dawne from the BHF as I moved out of her territory. I sat in my room that night and suddenly felt very alone. I wanted to stay. I had met some fabulous people, kind, thoughtful, funny, silly and generous. I questioned the walk and I questioned how I was going to cope with new found pain. I put on Wham and cheered myself up.
Hunstanton to Kings Lynn on paper looked a lovely walk, varied, with beach walking, dunes, trails and town walking. Kate Bull author of ‘Open Hearts’ book and a retired cardiologist was to join me for this leg as was Storm Doris. I set off into a 8mile headwind with gusts of up to 50mpg along the sea wall. My neck scarf covered my face, my waterproof jacket covered my head and forehead so the only piece of skin visible was a small slit where my eyes poked through. Even looking like a Norfolk Ninja, the sand splattered into my face and eyes and made it hard to see. Some gusts left me stationary with one or two picking me up and throwing me back a foot or so. I decided on a new walking strategy to cope with the battering. 200 steps forward 50 steps moonwalking like Michael Jackson. It worked for a time until I walked into a set of steps on the sea walk and swore.
Kate met me soon after the sea wall. She had dispatched my bag in a pub in Snettisham. I was envious of my rucksack! We had two options. The lower wall which would mean more sand or the higher wall inland which would be more blustery. We chose the latter and gritted our teeth for nearly two hours as we faced the headwind. Eventually we reached Snettisham and rested at her beach hut.
We knew the rain would be worse later on so I set off after half an hour and decided to stick to the main roads. This was a good decision because the wind turned and the trees protected me. The downside to this was walking under moaning, bending trees and I was hit many times by falling twigs but luckily not branches. After 15 miles I found Kate who had moved the car to the end and we walked the end stage together, both of looking like Worzel Gummage with rosey cheeks.
We did it. We faced Storm Doris head on and I am extremely satisfied now when I look back at it…though the language in my head at the time could only have been repeated after the watershed.
So I am now in Lincolnshire, my fourth county in 25 days. My feet are fine. My body is holding up and mentally I feel great.
My holiday romance with Doris will never be forgotten