And so to our final morning, and the last few miles into Cromer. We rose early again, breakfasted, packed up our stuff and drove to Sheringham, where a trundle down the high street brought us to the sea front to rejoin the NCP.
|Sea front, Sheringham
We briefly followed the front, passing rows of unoccupied beach huts before cutting inland by the Wee Retreat - a crumbling former public convenience now converted into a stylish compact and bijou residence. Then began the arduous ascent of Beeston Bump, a pudding-shaped protuberance standing at a colossal 63m above sea level.
|Looking back over Sheringham from Beeston Bump
We stopped briefly at the trig point to gulp lungfuls of the rarefied air, and look back over Sheringham and along the coast. Next, in another unexpected twist, the path cut inland, crossing the busy A149 road and skirting the edge of Beeston Hall School.
A series of quiet tracks led gently upwards towards the ridgeline. Gradually the countryside became more heath-like, and the route morphed from track into woodland trail as we wound our way up to the top of Beacon Hill - the highest point in Norfolk at a whopping 102m - whilst the sun shone briefly and birds twittered in the trees all around.
|And shady trails
Beyond Beacon Hill, the path threaded it's way between a patchwork of caravan parks and camping sites. The rural facade began to slip as we neared Cromer, and before long the trappings of suburbia could no longer be held at bay. From field, to houses, to main road - in a flash we were in the town.
We found a bench, drank coffee and ate Creme Eggs. Then it was a final trundle through the streets to the pier, and the end of the walk. Like many seaside towns on a gloomy out-of-season day, Cromer had a slight seen-better-days atmosphere to it this morning. As we took our final few paces, the sunshine faded and a light drizzle, blown by the wind, brought a lugubrious air to the place - a metaphor that was not lost on us.
After a quick photo to record the end of the walk, we turned on our heels and headed for the train back to Sheringham. It felt quite peculiar finishing the walk so early in the day - it was barely 11.30am - and stopping altogether would have seemed somehow unsatisfactory. So we had a celebratory Crab sandwich lunch in Sheringham, the headed back to Cley for a gentle amble and some more birdwatching.
Overall, we'd really enjoyed our jaunt along the north Norfolk coast. Despite being predominantly flat, there are enough changes of scenery, varying underfoot conditions and regular pretty villages and harbours to maintain the interest throughout. For those with an interest, the birdwatching is great, too: in spring, this coastline is one of the best places in the UK to go. And it's ideal for a long weekend - with time to complete the route and travel there and back in just 4 days.
We are already considering our next trip to Norfolk. By combining the NCP with the Weaver's Way, the Angles Way and the Peddars Way, it is possible to circumnavigate Norfolk, and I reckon it'll not be long before we are out this way again.