Monday, 20 February 2012

North Norfolk in February? You Must Be Mad

Weybourne Cliffs
So why do people go to to the North Norfolk coast in thick-grey-skied, wind-lashed, freezing February?

Is it because the cliffs at Weybourne look like a 70s Doctor Who planet? And if you walk along the top of them, dodging the wayward golf balls from the links, you get to a half-shutdown Sheringham? The town's best chip shop doesn't open again until March but the fishermen will stand on the beach all winter. And the ice cream from Ronaldo's tastes just as good for afters no matter how cold it is.
Weybourne Fishermen
Maybe it's because the Skylarks have just started to sing above those cliffs again. Trying to convince the sceptical numb-fingered that spring really isn't that far way.

Weybourne Skylark
Is it the miles of deserted, sandy beaches at Holkham? The notorious naturists don't seem convinced. Or the mobile coffee guy that boosts winter birder business by scattering seeds for the Knot, Dunlin, Black-headed Gull and, on a good day, Snow Bunting clientele of Salthouse?
Salthouse Dunlin
Does the food and drink make the 140-mile trip from west London worthwhile: traditional bhunas and bhajis at The Taste of India in Holt; perfectly charcoaled steaks at The King's Head up the road; a citrusy pint of Blackfriars Spring Tide from Great Yarmouth with sea views at the excellent Red Lion in Cromer; a real fire and pints of Woodforde's Wherry at another Red Lion beside the endless marshes at Stiffkey; hand-raised pork pies from Alexandra Howells' deli in Wells; a pint of Norwich-brewed 80 Shillings Ale at Camra's Norfolk Pub of the Year 2011 - the Windham Arms in Sheringham?

Keep those pints in mind on a 5pm no-sunset visit to the raptor roost at the haunting Warham Greens: ring-tailed Hen Harrier, a hundred-mile-an-hour Merlin and a couple of hunting Marsh Harrier are enough to tempt the triple-layered. Grey Partridge in the fields and Little Egret in the marshes keep it interesting.

And on the way home, at last, the chance of a Barn Owl on the main road through South Raynham.

We'll be back next February. And every month between now and then.

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