River Wissey Lovell Fuller

Another Day Out in Norfolk

October 2001


My daughter was attending a wedding on the Saturday and still hadn't been able to find the right hat for her dress. Then, she suddenly remembered Pentney House in Burnham Market and invited us out for the day.

Burnham Market is certainly one of the most attractive villages in the country, let alone Norfolk. There are just a few shops but all are interesting. Pentney House sells all sorts of clothes, gifts, china, etc and boasts a range of about five hundred ladies' hats - my daughter tried on a fair percentage. Finally, she found the perfect one and we wandered around the village ending up in the cafe for lunch. The food was very good and plentiful and, as we all felt more than replete, we decided to drive along the coast to Cley-Next-The-Sea and go for a hike across the marshes.

Cley is a very quaint village with the narrowest 'A' road I think I have ever driven along. In days gone by it had been a very affluent port but natural silting and land reclamation means that it is now just over half a mile from the sea. We drove through the village until we reached the Norfolk Wildlife Trust car park on the right hand side. There is an Information Centre alongside where one can discover all about the history and management of the Cley Marshes Nature Reserve.

We crossed the road onto the trail through the marshes. The immediate sensation is one of bleakness because wherever you look there is nothing but reeds and water. It is a haven for "professional" bird-watchers of which there were plenty, gazing through their tripod-ed long lenses. Apparently, over three hundred species of birds have been identified on these marshes over the years, but we managed only four on our afternoon!

Following the path brings you, after about three quarters of a mile, to the shingle beach on the sea front. Our day was brilliantly sunny so that the waves appeared quite spectacular, like lights bouncing on their crests. After about half a mile, we arrived at Arkwright's cafe, a haunt for fishermen, wildfowlers and, of course, walkers like us. The menu represents the needs of people being out in all weathers - sausages, eggs, bacon, mugs of tea, etc. It was at this point I almost regretted having eaten in Burnham Market, but at least I was feeling a lot less uncomfortable. At the cafe, we turned inland and back to the village of Cley, passing the old windmill, which is open most afternoons.

The village boasts some very interesting shops and tearooms. There is an excellent pottery, the best delicatessen that I have found in Norfolk, and a smokehouse. There we bought some kippers, but smoked wild salmon and eel are amongst other delicacies that one could buy. You can actually view the smoking of the fish if you wish, and I can assure you that the quality and taste is second to none.

After our purchase, we walked back through the village, taking care not to get run over - a very real risk on some of the corners. By the time we arrived back at the car, we had walked just over three miles, and felt much better for it. The afternoon's jaunt was not notable for its scenery but it certainly was bracing, and then there is the lovely village of Cley. A thoroughly enjoyable day and, when it is repeated, we shall definitely stop at Arkwright's for lunch

Graham Forster

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