A 6am alarm signalled the start of a 2-day hiking adventure. The plan is to try to hike 23 miles along the Norfolk Coastal Path from Wells-next-the-Sea to Hunstanton. Everything we will need, we will carry on our backs, including a tent, mats, sleeping bags, water, food and a little cooker. We are very lucky as Sarah and Andy from ‘Only the Bare Necessities’ have lent us their kit, making this adventure possible. They’ve inspired us to try some hiking by taking on a huge challenge to hike along the Pacific Crest Trail in the USA for 6 months!
But you have to start somewhere so we will start with these 23 miles. We get up early to catch a bus from our base at Sandringham to Wells-next-the-Sea. This is a charming little seaside village with a small quay, a little high street with some lovely independent shops and some great coffee shops too. We start with coffee and cake… Trail fuel… OK, maybe just a treat! But after that, and a quick look around the High street, we set off.
The trail starts at the quay and takes us out towards the lighthouse from where we start following the coast. The Norfolk Coastal Path takes us through some beautiful dunes. The scenery is stunning but at times the path is soft sand, making the walking more difficult.
We walk for a few hours before getting to Burnham-overy-Staithe around 1pm. Time for lunch! We find a pub and order some food. It’s been a warm morning and we can feel the miles and the extra backpack weight on our backs already with plenty of aching parts. After an amazing burger for lunch and plenty of water, we push on, determined to get some good distance done today.
The next section of the walk is along a raised path through salt marshes. It is exposed and monotonous and the wind has picked up, making it a tad less enjoyable although still beautiful. We’re getting more tired but still keen to try to make some more miles.
Finally we reach the end of the salt marshes and a cross-roads. Do we go off the path to get some water? Or push on and hope we find somewhere in about 3 miles? A dog-walker kindly points us to a shop about 100 meters away so we decide to get the water. The shop turns out to be in Deepdale, right next to a campsite.
We had big plans to wild-camp on this adventure, finding a sheltered spot to pitch our little tent and staying the night in the woods somewhere. Looking at the map during our little break at the shop, we realise that there aren’t really any suitable places along the coastal path within a distance we think we can still manage today and in the end, the lure of a shower wins out. We book into Deepdale campsite, where we have the last pitch, wedged in between huge family tents with big families on holiday. It’s about as far removed from our dreams of a secluded quiet spot as you can get, but at least there’s a shower. We pitch our little tent and settle in for the night. We’re both very tired, so it’s an early night!
Although it’s not the most comfortable, we’re tired enough to have a fairly decent night’s sleep. The next morning is another early start and we boil some water for our porridge. We forgot to bring spoons so we have to make it watery so that we can drink it… Still, it’s breakfast! Soon we’re on our way again.
Our backpacks sit uncomfortably on our backs, our feet ache and we feel quite stiff and tired. The path today follows some villages first before reaching an area of dunes again, which are beautiful! We come across the site where Seahenge was discovered and stand and stare at the sea for a while. There’s nothing there now, but a replica has been built about a mile away. We’re not willing to add the extra to our trip right now, and having seen Woodhenge and The Sanctuary, we can imagine what it looked like… We push on!
Hunstanton by now is only a few miles ahead so we’re starting to feel like we’re going to finish these miles! The last few miles are on soft sand again, making the last bit difficult and slow, but soon we see the busy beach and we know we made it! We find a pub for a late lunch before getting the bus back to Sandringham.
We’ve both really enjoyed this hike although it was probably more difficult than we expected. I mean, we live fairly active lifestyles and we walk a lot anyway. We just hadn’t really taken the weight of the backpacks into consideration, or how much that extra weight would impact us. We ache from head to toe as we arrive back at base, but it was very much worth it!
We’ve learnt a lot as well. Here’s a little list of important basics to consider if you’re thinking of hiking.
- The backpacks have to be adjusted properly to fit your body. This will help avoid discomfort and pain-spots. Many outdoor shops will provide a backpack fitting service so this is something we would look into.
- Good footwear! Ours have worn out and became uncomfortable…
- Blister plasters. It’s simply just worth carrying these as it will help alleviate any discomfort if you do get a blister
- Good easy to grab snacks to keep steady energy levels during the hike, like nuts or bars.
- Easy to reach water – like a camelback in your rucksack. And to plan water throughout the day.
- Bring cutlery! It makes eating so much easier.
We did bring some food, but we have some more to learn in that department… We’ll be looking to Sarah and Andy for more tips and tricks!
For all the pictures of this trip, we created a story on Instagram which you can see here.