The sky was blue with cotton wool clouds and, although still early morning, it was already quite warm. After a quick stop at a local sandwich shop for a packed lunch, we set off along the harbour road heading for the coastal path. There was a wonderful stillness to the early morning air and with the sun well above the horizon it was tremendously bright.
The route is initially red gravel but it soon roughens up in to a two-lane grass path with wild and at times high vegetation at the sides. In the distance we can just see the buildings of Warborough Hill and beyond that the square church tower at Stiffkey, where there is thought to have been a church for about 900 years. The village of Stiffkey, is locally called 'Stew-key' in reference to the blue-green clays that underlie it and which colours the cockles that are harvested.
At the bottom of the 'zig', on the right -hand side, a small lake lies across the land, thick reed beds in the foreground and arable land in the background marching towards the horizon. On the far side of the 'zag', hedgerow sit atop a banking, the green vibrant against a subdued area of the blue sky. Elsewhere pretty, white, paint-stroke clouds drift lazily in the light breeze. There are more people about here, walking in the general direction of the Morston Greens (salt marshes) and beyond the marsh to the small quay at Morston.
Blakeney Point, which lies to the front of the harbour, behind the marshes and sands, wraps its long arm around the harbour like that of a protective big brother. There is also a very nice little cafe here, operated by a retired policeman and his wife, that sells very nice cakes. Now, how do we know that?
Morston salt marshes continued on our left as we walked, fronted now by Agar Creek. Slightly disconcerting sounds emanating from the marsh as the water in pot holes gurgled and gargled in the heat of the sun. Above the marsh the blue and white cloudscape belonged in a grand Constable painting.
On the Blakeney Eye, several feet above the level of the marshes, there are flint remains that were thought to be from an old chapel. Slightly further on there is another eye, known a the Cley Eye, with similar claims made for a ruined chapel there. Archaeological work was carried out on the Blakeney Eye as part of the river diversion work, which found evidence of prehistoric farming, as well as the remains of a building constructed about the 13th or 14 C. It could have been a church connected to the nearby friary at Blakeney.
A final interesting feature on the landscape here is the Glaven River. At ten and a half miles long, the river rises in the hamlet of Bodham in North Norfolk and flows through some of the most picturesque scenery in the county. Interesting because in 2005-06, the river was moved two hundred metres inland by the Environment Agency as part of the flood defence work. Discharging in to the North Sea, the original mouth of the river was constantly being blocked by shingle moved from the beach by high tide thereby increasing the risk of flooding for the local community.
Another interesting bit of work on the river was completed in 2010 and involved restoring the original form of the river over a four hundred-metre stretch that had at one time been straightened. The work involved restoring features such as pools, riffles and meanders and restoring the flood plain. As the pictures on the link demonstrate, the environment is greatly enhanced by the changes made, as well as improving the survival chances of many of the species identified during the project.
Sometimes, Vagabonds are in heaven!