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Index : Camping and Touring Tales, and Travel Blogs : Nine Days in Norfolk Part 2 - by Tigermouse

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Nine Days in Norfolk Part 2

UKCampsite.co.uk member Tigermouse relates the tale of her camping trip in Norfolk - Days 3 to 4

Day 3 - Monday

I woke that morning to a grey, overcast sky and more wind - not the sort of weather to encourage convening with nature, so I decided I wasn't going to rush to go out anywhere. After putting the dogs onto their line outside the awning - I can highly reccommend the Delta dog tether - I put a couple of eggs on to boil and made some toast soldiers and a brew. I don't think the dogs appreciated the wind as it wasn't long before Sophie was whingeing to come back in again, so with breakfast on a tray I settled them both on their beds and retreated back to mine for another hour or so. Well, if I can't treat myself to breakfast in bed on holiday when can I?

As the weather wasn't very nice for taking photos I decided I would spend some time just driving round the lanes and villages, looking for places which would offer a decent photography opportunity when the sun came out again. My first port of call was Winterton beach to give the dogs a good run - well that was the idea, till I saw that the car park charge was 2.50. Ok if you're staying all day but I wouldn't have been there long, so with my Scrooge head on I turned the van round and drove off again. Passing through Martham and Potter Heigham I drove up to Stalham - I'd been taken to Stalham market by a friend about eighteen years ago, I remember it was quite a sizeable market and I had the best donuts I'd ever tasted. Now I pride myself on having a good memory for places I've been to, but the small patch of land where the market is now held bore no resemblance whatsoever to what I remember. Thinking maybe that my memory wasn't as good as I thought, I wandered along the main street and looked in the few shops which interested me then returned to the van and set off once more.

My next stop was Happisburgh (pronounced Haze-brough), and the red-and-white striped lighthouse slightly inland from the cliff top and just behind the village. Another place I'd been taken to many years before.



From there I walked to the cliff top and came across Manor Farm caravan and campsite - across the site, and set in its own grounds, was a huge and sprawling old manor house. At first glance it appeared to be derelict, but the sight of a man on a ride-on lawnmower suggested otherwise. The place looked very eerie and spooky though, and reminded me of a film set for a horror movie. Intrigued, I followed the hedge line and the stone wall as far round as I could go in the hope of finding a name plaque or something which would tell me what it was, but there was nothing. Maybe it's a hide-away for a very famous person, or possibly the headquarters of a secret society - and maybe I read too many adventure books when I was a kid, and it's nothing more than a private care home for the elderly people of Norfolk. I would love to know though!



Unable to satisfy my curiosity over the house I wandered across the caravan site to the cliff edge - and I must say that Happisburgh beach at that point leaves a lot to be desired. The cliff has been eroded quite badly all along that stretch of coastline so sea defences have been put in place in an effort to stop the ever encroaching tides. A wooden barrier runs parallel to the cliff as far as the eye can see, backed by piles of huge boulders at strategic points. Just behind where I was standing, large piles of weather-worn timber were heaped haphazardly up against the bottom of the cliff, whether put there by man or washed up on the tide I don't know. Access down to the beach at that point is, or was, by a wooden platform leading from the caravan site to stairs built into a wooden tower. For some reason it reminded me of the scene at the end of the Michael Caine film Get Carter, where his body goes up a conveyor and is dumped in the sea.



The caravan site itself was actually quite nice and looked to have spacious pitches, but personally I wouldn't want to stay there. The whole area had, to me at least, a very depressing atmosphere, and I was glad to get away. Needless to say, I won't be going back anytime soon.

From Happisburgh I drove a few miles down the road to Sea Palling. I'd never been there before and I was quite surprised to find that access to the beach was by a wide, steeply-sloping concrete ramp going up and over the dunes. I suppose in better weather the beach would be nice, but under the grey sky it wasn't very inviting so I only stayed long enough to give Sophie and Sugar a quick run.







At the bottom of the ramp was a nice-looking little cafe, so after the dogs had had their run I left them back in the van and went for a much-needed coffee before setting off back to the site, with fingers crossed metaphorically for nicer weather the following day.

Day 4 - Tuesday

I woke to another grey and miserable morning, and when I took the dogs out there was a touch of rain in the air, though it didn't really amount to anything much. My walk took me down the far side of the site, past the static vans and the camping field, and southwards onto the path between the beach and the heathland. It's great there for dog walking - the bracken grows 4 to 5ft tall and there are several paths which meander through it, giving the dogs the opportunity to run off the lead and sniff and explore in the way that only dogs can. When the heathland gave way to houses I cut across the main path and went down onto the beach, heading back northwards. There are no cliffs at that point, just a few dunes, a concrete 'promenade' and a wide expanse of sand - the beach narrows a bit where the cliffs start, and as the tide was at its height it was covering more and more of the sand till it got to the stage where I was dodging the waves as I walked. I decided to set myself a challenge - reach the path back up to the site without getting wet feet. I did it - just - but the dogs got wet more than once. Sugar loved it, but Sophie wasn't too impressed!

Back in the awning I towelled the dogs down, made tea and toast, and turned my thoughts to what I was going to do with my day. I wanted to go somewhere or do something where it didn't matter if the weather was a bit gloomy, and after consulting my 'Days Out In Norfolk' booklet I decided to take myself off to Africa Alive, a wildlife park down at Kessingland in Suffolk. I first went there back in the 80s when the park was in its infancy - there wasn't a great lot there back then, though I do remember an emu trying to eat my hair! So with the dogs safely ensconced in the back of the van and one of my favourite cds playing I set off.

Kessingland is just south of Lowestoft and I've been down that neck of the woods often enough to know that unless you want to risk getting held up in traffic you don't go [I]through [/I]Lowestoft, you go round it, but what did I do? - I went through it and ended up sitting in a traffic queue for ages while a big fishing boat went through on its way out to sea. From where I was I could only see the top of the boat and the mast, but it seemed to be quite a sizeable vessel. It got me thinking then - at what size does a boat become a ship? Once the traffic was moving again it didn't take me long to reach Africa Alive - as soon as I'd ascertained from the guy in the kiosk that I would be able to re-enter the park if I came out to check on the dogs I drove over to the car park. I found a nice spot away from most of the other cars, with a big tree which would provide shade for the dogs if the sun decided to put in an appearance, and with the curtains drawn, the side windows open a bit and the fan on, I left the dogs to settle down to sleep while I went to look for some wildlife.

Big cats are my favourites so I headed in their direction first - having been 'up close and personal' with cheetahs when in South Africa I was really hoping I could get some good photos of the ones there but I was destined to be disappointed. They were nowhere to be seen, but as they had cubs I assumed they were in their den. So I moved on to the lions, but if I was hoping to see them walking round and looking lively I had no chance - they were just lounging dozily by the fence, the big male looking very much like one of those pyjama cases you would have on the end of your bed. I wouldn't have liked to try stuffing my pj's in him though!





This montage - if that's the right word - is the nearest that Africa Alive has to elephants. In South Africa the elephant is one of 'The Big Five', so an African-themed wildlife park without elephants just didn't seem right to me, though I suppose there must be a reason for it.



After wandering past the giraffes - which were too far away across the enclosure for me to see them properly - and the zebras I decided it was time to go check on the dogs.



After stamping the back of my hand so I could get back in later, I returned to the van. There was no sign of life so I crept up quietly and peered through the back window - both dogs were sound asleep, and if I hadn't sneezed just at that moment they wouldn't have known I was there. Some guard dogs they turned out to be! The car park is in a huge field, so after giving them both a drink I took them for a walk right up to the top and back, then returned to the wildlife park.

I went past some large creatures which looked like grey cows with huge horns - I can't for the life of me remember what they were - and some antelope-type things, and round by Lemur Island where two lemurs were chasing each other round the central tree, first one way then the other, and I watched them for quite a while before moving on to some of the small animals housed 'indoors'. The young bat-eared foxes looked cute, and though I couldn't find the meerkats I did see some mongooses. And that prompted another of my musings - if the plural of goose is geese, then why isn't the plural of mongoose mongeese? It doesn't sound right really though, does it?





The best part of the day though was without doubt my walk through Lemur Encounters. This is a huge open enclosure where the public can walk among the many ring-tailed lemurs which live there. There were dozens of them, from small babies up to older adults, playing games of 'tig' amongst themselves, jumping onto fence posts and leaping in and out of the trees. One came to sit on the fence post right next to me - unfortunately I can't speak 'Lemurese' so I had to talk to it in English and hope it understood. It looked like it did, and spent several minutes looking intelligently at me before it jumped down and ran to join its friends.











These creatures were fascinating and very amusing to watch and I could have stayed there till the park closed, but time was getting on and I didn't want to leave the dogs too much longer so reluctantly I decided to leave. On my way out of the park I called in the gift shop, which I expected to be expensive - places like that usually are - but surprisingly found things were quite reasonably priced, so for less than a fiver I treated myself to a cuddly meerkat to keep in the van. I think the reasonable prices in the gift shop were offset by the prices in the cafe though - it would have cost more for coffee and cake than I paid for the meerkat!

Returning to the van I took the dogs for another walk then set off on the drive back to the site. Just on a whim, and as I was in the area anyway, I decided to go to Kessingland beach. I went there many years ago but I couldn't remember much about it, though I'd been told not long ago that there's a nice cafe there. Well if there is, I couldn't find it - I did find a not-very-cheap bistro type restaurant on a corner near the beach, but no sign of a nice cafe. In fact there was no sign of anything much - the whole place had a very washed out, grey and boring look about it, and I didn't even bother getting the camera out. Another place I won't be going back to. From there I went back onto the A12, skirting round Lowestoft this time, and headed for 'home'. Looking at the map book the distance from Lowestoft to back to Yarmouth doesn't seem too great, and it's actually only just over 12 miles, but that stretch of the A12 must be one of the most boring sections of road I've ever been on and it seemed to take forever to do that journey. Was I glad when I finally got to the bypass over the River Yare - I made a quick stop at the nearby Asda to get a few provisions, and once back on site I put the blinds up in the van ready for later and settled in for the evening.

This article has the following linked sections

Nine Days in Norfolk
A UKCampsite.co.uk Member's wonderful tale of a camping trip in Norfolk told in words, and a visual treat of photographs.
Nine Days in Norfolk Part 3
A UKCampsite.co.uk Member's wonderful tale of a camping trip in Norfolk told in words, and a visual treat of photographs.
Nine Days in Norfolk Part 4
A UKCampsite.co.uk Member's wonderful tale of a camping trip in Norfolk told in words, and a visual treat of photographs.
Nine Days in Norfolk Part 5
A UKCampsite.co.uk Member's wonderful tale of a camping trip in Norfolk told in words, and a visual treat of photographs.

Index : Camping and Touring Tales, and Travel Blogs : Nine Days in Norfolk Part 2 - by Tigermouse



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