Monday, May 04, 2009

Norfolk Broads

I've just come back last night from three days of walking on the Norfolk Broads (I took the Friday off to make it a super long weekend, a wise move which I can remommend as you can beat the Bank Holiday travel rush - even though the train was delayed badly due to someone under a train in the Romford area, affecting all trains out of Liverpool Street), a flat, old landscape that lies roughly between Norwich and Great Yarmouth on the coast with an extensive system of waterways, rivers, ditches and many old windmills, remote villages and country pubs. There are some good long distance walks, I walked a bit of the Weavers Way from Acle to Great Yarmouth, right across the Broads and then along Breydon Water, and bits of the Wherryman Way that follows the River Yare, on the second day around Reedham, and yesterday from Norwich up to the Ferryhouse Pub near Surlingham village. One problem for walkers in this area is access, it's ok if you have a boat, but as there are only crossings over the Yare in Great Yarmouth, Reedham and Norwich, it's quite difficult to get to the walks and back, and even on a bank holiday there weren't many walkers. I walked as far as the Ferryhouse pub expecting to be able to cross over to get to the train station for a train back to Norwich, only to find it stopped in 1965. So I asked around in the pub and got a lift across the river from some very friendly guys who were having a stag do party on three boats and who were happy to help :-)

Great Yarmouth on first impressions wasn't too good, quite tacky and a bit rough, but on closer inspection I quite liked it, there is a very old part of it that faces away from the sea, the historic South Quay, and the whole are around there is actually quite nice, some good pubs as well, walk north from the pier and you come to some quiet dunes facing the amazing Scroby Sand Wind Farm. Norwich too, some streets around the station on a Saturday night are like a giant hen party from hell, but walk around the corner and you're in some amazing tranquil cobblestoned street, old churches loom everywhere, so you have to explore it a bit. I eventually found a nice big pub, that had a little free party in the basement where some dudes played old ska and dub 45s and a cool, chilled crowd hung out, the complete antidote to the towney pissed up scene just down the road.

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