Sunday, September 28, 2003

Walk 87 -- Caister-on-Sea to Horsey Gap

Ages: Colin was 61 years and 143 days. Rosemary was 58 years and 285 days.
Weather: Wet and windy – horrible!
Location: Caister-on-Sea to Horsey Gap, via Hemsby.
Distance: 9 miles.
Total distance: 653½ miles.
Terrain: Firm sandy beaches and dunes – walking into horizontal rain!
Tide: Going out.
Rivers to cross: None.
Ferries: None.
Piers: None.
Kissing gates: None.
Pubs: The ‘Fisherman’s Return’ at Winterton where Colin drank Woodforde’s Wherry and I enjoyed a refreshing glass of Stowford Press cider.
‘English Heritage’ properties: No.25, Caister Roman Fort.
Ferris wheels: None.
Diversions: None.
How we got there and back: We were staying with Paul and Caroline in Isleham. We drove – with bikes on the back of the car – from Isleham to Horsey Gap where we parked in a caravan site. The site owner told us that it was possible to cycle along the dunes to Winterton, that there was a gravel path most of the way and that he had done it. It saved us a couple of miles, but it was bumpy and very soft in places. Our bikes got covered in sand, so it wasn’t worth it. Then, with all the effort, Colin’s catheter fell apart! Luckily, the ‘real ale’ pub in Winterton was just about to open, so I bought the drinks while he sorted himself out in the toilets. The rain tipped down while we were in there, but stopped as we came out. We eventually got to Caister and chained our bikes to a post where we had ended the last walk.
At the end, we were cold, tired, hungry and wet! In other words we were both p****d off!! We had some tea and biscuits, and then we felt a bit better. We drove back to Caister and had a quick look at the remains of a Roman fort. Then we picked up the bikes and drove back to Isleham.

We should have paid more attention to the weather forecast, but we didn’t. Since the whole country – except the east coast – was bathed in sunshine all day, we thought it would soon clear the east coast. It didn’t. We have always been told to listen to the locals. We shouldn’t have. It was hard cycling through Winterton Dunes in the soft sand – as advised by the caravan site owner where we parked the car – and the effort made Colin’s catheter split which put him in a potentially embarrassing position and a
very bad mood. It wouldn’t have been much further – and certainly a lot quicker and easier – to have gone round by road. So today’s Walk did not even start well!
It got even worse! It was lunchtime before we stowed our bikes by the shed-type ice cream booth in Caister where we had finished the last Walk. It was shut, so we borrowed a couple of their plastic chairs and tried unsuccessfully to sit out of the wind. Then the rain started, and it was relentless! Most of our route was along the beach today, and it should have been glorious – but we struggled along with wind and rain blowing into our faces so hard that it hurt!
I was wearing my full wet weather gear of gaiters, overtrousers and kagoule with the drawstring round my hood pulled tight and the built-in peak keeping some of the rain off my glasses. My worst problems were condensation inside my kag, and getting overheated so that my glasses steamed up and I couldn’t see. That was bad enough, but I could cope because I had the right gear. Colin, on the other hand, insists on buying the cheapest stuff
which doesn’t fit and it leaks. He is also b****y-minded about always using an umbrella – in that wind? The swearing that went on every time it blew inside out – which it did every couple of minutes – was ear-scorching. After Caister, where we followed a bit of an old railway line before going on to the beach in the teeth of the wind, we passed places called California, Scratby, Newport and Hemsby – but we saw none of them. We just concentrated on moving along the wide sandy beach beyond the dunes. At one time Colin walked so far ahead of me that he was just a dot in the distance. I got very upset, because if anything had happened that I couldn’t go on, I was completely on my own. He wouldn’t turn round, and I felt very alone. Eventually he did, and I managed to signal to him to stop. He seemed oblivious of my distress – typical b****y selfish male!
When we reached Hemsby the rain seemed to ease a little, so
we stopped by a building to eat some more lunch. We realised we had left our energy-boosting chocolate in the car – we were very upset about that. Nothing was right for Colin, all he could think about was his b****y broken umbrella. I had a real go at him about his stinginess when it comes to buying the proper gear. We were both in the foulest of moods. I remembered that Mum and Dad had once holidayed in Hemsby with Diana in the early seventies, but neither of us had ever been there before. A few families came through the gap in the dunes with children and dogs, but they soon went because it started raining again.
We plodded on. I tried to appreciate that we were walking along a stunningly beautiful piece of our coastline, but that line of positive thought was very difficult under the circumstances. We passed Winterton without noticing because all we could see on the shore side were dunes. We really had no idea where we were, so we decided to climb the dun
es and find the track that we had cycled along earlier in the day. We couldn’t find it – we were really lost! What’s more, we were both cold, wet, tired and miserable. We had the most terrible row about nothing in particular – we both had murder in mind – and then we found the track. Then it was time for the ‘I told you so’ saga, so we stomped along in angry silence for miles and miles. At least the wind was not so sharp in the dunes, or was it that the weather was at last easing?
As we passed through the gate in the corner of the caravan site where we had parked the car, we noticed that it had definitely stopped raining. The dunes are quite high at that point, so we decided to climb them and take a last look at the sea. As we got to the top, the sun came out. What a transformation! From near darkness, suddenly we had light. With a background of a slate-grey sky behind white rolling surf – it was wild and beautiful! I took the first and only pictures of our Walk.

That ended Walk no.87, we shall pick up Walk no.88 next time on the dunes at Horsey Gap. We descended inland to our car, and fell upon biscuits, tea and chocolate! We felt a little better then but not much. On our way back through Caister, we stopped to look at the remains of an old Roman fort. No walls left more than ankle high, but truthfully we were not much interested. We just wanted to get warm, dry and fed! We picked up our soggy bikes, and returned to Isleham in the dark.

One day we will return to this bit of coast in better weather, because we were quite unable to appreciate it today. That was the wettest Walk so far.

UPDATE: By mid-2009, we had not done so!

No comments: