Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Two men go to Norfolk

Holkham Dunes
Holkham Dunes

It's been a while since my last photo jaunt with folk from Cambridge, "Three men go to Arran" was back in Sept 2014. This latest trip we were down to two, just Phil and I.

A date was set, camp site booked and after a quick planning meeting we had a rough idea of what we would do. Hoping for some decent weather is always a bit of a gamble planning in advance.

Fast forward to the second Friday in May, I picked Phil up at around 6pm and we were off. The forecast was quite good, but not the May temperatures we had been expecting. The previous weekend had been a mini heatwave.

We were booked in for 2 nights at High Sand Creek campsite Stiffkey. Stiffkey is just east of Wells-next-the-Sea and is a great location for exploring the North Norfolk coast.

After pitching our tents we headed out onto the salt marshes naively hoping we might get a sunset. It was not to be and the skies remained grey. We pottered around trying to make the most of some boats, but a bit of a disappointing evening photo wise.

After a quick drink at the Red Lion we headed off to bed for a planned early start. 4.20am and my alarm went off. 10 minutes later Phil was up and we headed off onto the marshes again. With a stiff northerly breeze blowing and some spots of rain mixed in I was glad I had packed my hat and gloves.

This time we walked east towards some of the little footbridges which span creeks on the marshes. Photography conditions were quite challenging, the best views were facing into the wind and rain. Constant filter cleaning resulted in quite a lot of frustration. The light was changing quickly and was quite dramatic, but weather and compositions were proving challenging. Added to that I was starting to feel quite cold and Phil was getting hungry!


Stiffkey footbridge
Stiffkey footbridge

Finally the drizzle eased a little and we were treated to some great early morning light.

Stiffkey sunrise
Stiffkey sunrise

Cold and hungry we returned to the campsite for some welcome breakfast and a hot cup of tea. By 6:30am we were off again, this time in the car. First port of call, Burnham Overy Staithe. The tide was out and boats were scattered across the mud.


Burnham Overy Staithe
Burnham Overy Staithe

Half an hour or so and we moved onto Brancaster Staithe, just over 10 minutes from Burnham, in the car. Brancaster is a working harbour and yacht club. Lots of boats new and old. Just round the corner from the working harbour there are some old abandoned boats which made great subject matter.

Peeling paint
Peeling paint - Brancaster Staithe

By mid morning the sun was getting high in the sky and the light was quite harsh. We packed up in Brancaster and headed for Old Hunstanton. I've visited Hunstanton a few times before, but only at high tide. There are some lovely round boulders underneath the cliffs which I was keen to capture on a rising tide. The light was very unforgiving so some long exposure shots were called for.


Hunstanton Boulders
Hunstanton Boulders

Walking along the coast under the cliffs we picked up some shots of the old wreck, the boulders and some of sea defences. By now lunchtime was fast approaching and we stopped off for fish and chips in New Hunstanton at 11:30am! I'm not sure I have ever had my lunch so early, but it already seemed like a long day having been up so early.

After lunch we walked back through town in our wellies and waterproofs to the car. Hunstanton was as far west as we ventured. We now started retracing our steps back east. Holme was the next port of call a few miles back along the coast. We grabbed a few shots in the dunes and some lovely patterns in the drying mud. Because the wind was so strong fine sand had blown over the cracks so they looked a little like the sugar coating on a creme brulee.

Sugar coated cracks - Holme
Sugar coated cracks - Holme

More walking and exploring then back in the car for the short drive to Thornam. There are some ancient wooden posts which would make a great sunrise shot on a spring tide. Although it was now high tide the posts were still high and dry and the early afternoon sunshine was really harsh. I dug out my b&w 3.0 (10 stop) nd filter combining it with a hitech 2 stop hard hd grad. This gave me 80 seconds at f14. Enough to get a bit of movement into the the clouds.

Thornham posts
Thornham posts

It was now 2:30pm and the clouds were giving way to a clear blue sky. Not the best for taking photos so we headed back to the campsite for a mid afternoon snooze. No sooner had we got back in the car Phil had nodded off!

After a bit of R&R back in Stiffkey. We headed out again to Wells for an early tea. I don't even eat this early with my kids. Just after 6pm we left the pub looking for somewhere to park for Holkham beach. The gated access road on the Holkham Estate said it would shut at 9pm. So we headed back towards Wells finding a lay-by to park in. This added an extra mile on each way, but we didn't want to get locked in for the night since sunset was at about 8.50pm

Holkham beach was almost deserted, one or two people dotted along it's entire length. It was a cracking evening and the light was beautiful and golden. It would have been perfect had there been a few clouds in the sky to break up the blue, but in comparison with the previous night, I couldn't complain.


Ripples in the sand - Holkham
Ripples in the sand - Holkham

Sunset was a bit of a non event, a globe like sun disappeared over the sea. A slight orange glow, but nothing spectacular. Just after 9pm we started making our way back along the beach and then the path back to the car. 16 miles walked over the course of the day and such an early start I was looking forward to getting back to my tent.

The weather forecast for Sunday morning was looking disappointing so we decided to have a lie in. 7am we were up having breakfast. 30 minutes later we had packed up and were on the road again heading east this time.

After a brief stop at Cley to look at the windmill from the road we headed onto Blakeney. Blakeney is another lovely coastal village and harbour. Parking up at the west end of the quay we wandered along the front and then off downstream along the River Glaven. Low tide again so lots of mud exposed a few new boats and some old ones which have seen better days.

Old chain - Blakeney


The weather was very overcast so by mid morning we decided to start head back towards Cambridge. Phil suggested we called in at Oxburgh Hall a National Trust moated manor house, just south west of Swaffham. By the time we arrived at Oxburgh Hall the sun was out. After a quick dash round the interior we took a few shots of the exterior and moat.

Oxburgh Hall
Oxburgh Hall

Lunch in the cafe concluded our visit and Norfolk weekend before we hit the road one last time -home bound to Cambridge.

All in all a great weekend away lots of ground covered and a few good shots to add to my Norfolk collection.

Resources:
http://www.marona.co.uk/norfolk-suffolk
Flickr - Norfolk album


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