As the weather was set fair today, I decided to take Ollie somewhere different. Although he is more than happy to spend his daily recreation time at Beetley Meadows and Hoe Rough, the monotony of the familiar walks sometimes wears me down. When the weather is unkind, as in most of the time, it hardly seems worth the effort to go further afield. But today was warm and sunny, as predicted, so time to take advantage of this meteorological bounty.
Blakeney is an attractive coastal village, just 23 miles from our home in Beetley. It has a free car park, a small harbour, and access to the coastal path walk, in either direction. The village has some attractive buildings, various shops, hotels, and restaurants, and a famously large church. Just the spot for a nice trip with my faithful companion. I could probably have got there in under 30 minutes, but I was in no hurry, so took the inland route off the busy A148. It still took just 40 minutes from home, and I was parked behind the village hall by 12.10. Crossing the main road, we walked down the small high street to the quay. It was busy with visitors, mostly late middle-aged or elderly people, as the schools are not yet on holiday. The view is unbroken across marshland and mudflats to the sea beyond, and the sky was blue, the air clear and fresh.
Three miles distant, Cley Windmill can be seen, and behind us, the large tower of the church, the only two buildings of any size visible on the horizon. The coastal path has recently been refurbished after winter storms, and stands on a raised embankment above the numerous inlets of the River Glaven. If you choose, you can walk alongside on a lower path, but then you would be cheating yourselves of the panoramic views. The fresh water levels were man-made, in the 17th century, to keep the sea from flooding nearby farmland. This is still grazed by cattle, and large reed beds can be seen too. They are harvested annually, and the crop is used by local craft tradesmen, for traditional products. Many small boats are moored from the quay along this area, and they are currently stranded on the mud, awaiting tidal changes later today.
Once free of his lead, Ollie scampered off happily, enjoying the new and different smells, and greeting the dogs accompanying some of the other path walkers. The sun was high now, and it felt pleasantly warm, so he was soon panting. After a mile or so, I stopped to give him some water. I have to take quite a few things along when Ollie is out for the day, not unlike allowing for an infant. I carry a bag with his water bowl, two bottles of water, filled at home, poo bags of course, and some treats to stave off his hunger until dinnertime. I include a roll of paper towels, for any excessive slobbering, and a carrier bag, to use for rubbish. Once refreshed, he was off again, checking out a passing Border Collie, as I chatted to the owners. As there are very few Shar-Pei dogs around, Ollie always generates a lot of interest, and questions about his breed.
The path bends around, avoiding the larger stretches of water, and as we got to the part closest to the sea, a refreshing breeze hit us, taking the edge off of the early afternoon heat. It wasn’t that hot, to be honest, it is just that we haven’t been used to such nice weather for so long now, it felt warmer than it was. After just over an hour, we arrived at Cley Windmill. Now a flourishing hotel establishment, this distinguished building is one of the best-known landmarks in Norfolk. I decided not to subject Ollie to the busy traffic-clogged streets of Cley village, as he is nervous around a lot of vehicles. So, we turned and retraced our steps along the coastal path, following a second water break. There were few other walkers on the return trip, so we took our time, and I admired the scene as we walked. This area is famous as a bird sanctuary, and most other people we came across were avidly scanning with binoculars, hoping to catch a glimpse of a rare bird, or just enjoying the views.
Back in Blakeney after a six-mile round trip, Ollie was looking hot and bothered, and I was in need of refreshment too. We stopped at a tea bar on the quayside, with tables in the open air. I bought a large mug of tea, and some oatmeal biscuits. Ollie had more water from his bowl, and his snacks. He later shared some of my biscuits of course. I could hardly enjoy them without offering him a morsel. Wandering back through the village to the car park, we were stopped a few times by people wanting to stroke Ollie, and admire his rich colouring, and velvet-like fur. Once in the car again, I decided to head off to nearby Langham, to see The Langham Dome. This is a WW2 oddity, located on a former airfield, and has recently been restored, and opened to the public on certain days. The dome was used to train anti-aircraft gunners during the war. In the days before simulators, and electronic aids, images of German aircraft would be projected inside the dome, and gunners taught how to track them, and when to fire their guns. It was easy to find, and much smaller than I had imagined. Unfortunately, I couldn’t go inside, as that would have meant leaving Ollie alone in a locked car, and I would never do that. I took a leaflet though, and will visit again, another time.
On the journey home, I looked at the villages of Great Ryburgh, with its round church tower, and Colkirk, places I had never been to before, and stopped at a roadside stall to buy sweet-smelling fresh strawberries, and nice dark asparagus. By the time we got back, it was almost 16.30, and we had been out for five hours, in the fresh air and sunshine.
From where I sit, that was a pretty good trip indeed.
As I still haven’t sorted out my camera, please click the links for photos and more information. Scroll down the Blakeney site for some nice photos of the village.