Suddenly last afternoon, the thought came to me to go to Hunstanton, and have dinner at the Waterside Inn watching the sun go down. It’s really fun to live on the East coast and be able to see the sun set into the sea!
I checked the bus timetable, and there was one leaving in 20 minutes – plenty of time to get on my shoes and coat, and get to the bus station. The only potential issue is that buses are not that frequent in the evenings, and the return bus choices were either 30 minutes after I arrived, or 2 and a half hours!
So I headed out and got the bus, and it was a really nice trip through the countryside; the bus route is not straight to Hunstanton, but goes through Gaywood, Dersingham, Snettisham and Heacham before arriving at its final destination. So while it takes longer than the straight route would, you get lots of nice views along the way.
As we drove the sun was getting lower and lower in the sky, and I wasn’t sure we would get to Hunstanton before sunset. Sure enough, we arrived at the bus depot just at sunset, and I took the short walk to the Waterside Inn as the sun sank into the sea.
It was high tide, with the water was right up to the promenade, and I grabbed a window table to watch the reflections over the water, as I had my pint of Guinness and their “specialty” steak pie.
The beach here is amazing – the water goes out a LONG way at this part of the coast, and sometimes you’d think you could walk right across the Wash to the other side, and only get your feet wet. And then the water rushes in at such a speed you’d imagine that it’s never going to stop – that we are about to be inundated with the tide.
As I watched the tide had got to its highest, and even with the gentle waves like tonight, it is easy to imagine how much the water rages and breaks over the promenade in the winter storms.
As I sit there finishing my meal, the lights come on alone the waterside, and another idea comes to me – rather than wait here for my bus back to Lynn, why not walk alone the coastal path to Heacham, stop at the Fox and Hounds, and meet the bus there? It is getting dark, but I know there are lights along at least this part of the walk, and then it is clear and starlit – how hard could it be?
So I set off along the well-lit path, alongside Searles holiday park; the fanfare rides are all in darkness, as are most of the holiday homes, but lights show that some people are staying there. The light effect is stunning – there is still an afterglow low in the west, and the sky and the sea are reflecting each other, to form a bright but indistinct light that pervades everywhere.
Past the main area of Hunstanton, and the lights alone the path stop; it’s decision time, do I go on along the dark path, or turn back towards the town? Well, it is a clear night with lots of stars, and the water adds its own luminosity, so I carry on.
Just along here there are homes built just the other side of the sea defense barrier – I’m sure they are in a flood risk area, but I’ve always thought about living in one of them. They are all of different construction, as if each owner built their own dream. some of the places are mobile homes, but because they land slopes away from the sea defense, they would never actually get a sea view. Most, however, are built high enough to get views out over the water, and it is these that I covert.
A lot of the places are summer homes only, but I’m pleased to see some lights on along the way – at least some people share my passion for living in a place with a view, not just visiting it.
It is getting darker all the time, but with the starlight and the water reflecting the sky, there is still enough light to see the way ahead, and I know, in any case, that this is all concrete paving all the way to Heacham. Along here you can really see the hundreds of stars in the sky, and away in the distance a brighter area which must be the lights of King’s Lynn. Seeing this makes me stop and look behind me – and yes, I can see the lights of Hunstanton. What surprises me is how pretty they look, and I think this must be because of the town being built on the cliff and rolling hills in the distance.
Eventually, I leave these beautiful homes behind, and on my left now are a row of beach huts, and behind them another holiday park. And now it is getting difficult to see; it’s not so much the dark path, but the holiday park has bright lights way over to my left, and these affect my night vision – I know the path is there, but I can’t actually see it. Occasionally, my senses tell me there is nothing ahead of me to step onto, and I go slowly to make sure I don’t go into the beach.
And then I get to the point where I want to leave the coast path, to go into Heacham, and cannot see the way down at all! Luckily, I know it is there, and I find a handrail which must be the ramp over the sea wall and down the other side. I edge my way around the path and down to what I am sure is the roadway – only I can’t see it and just have to hope that I’m right!
But only a few footsteps and I’m out on the road that leads up to the town, which has street lights! I am sure that this road is also where the Fox and Hounds is, so I follow it in high confidence that I’ll soon see the pub. When I reach some shops that I don’t recall being there, I’m a bit less confident, but then I see a bookstore I remember visiting in the summer, and then around the corner my destination.
The Fox and Hounds itself is a nice place – it has a restaurant that looks excellent, although I’ve never eaten there, and it has its own brewery, and so its own range of ales. I choose a golden ale and sit at the bar, whilst the locals play pool and laugh and talk. A really friendly feeling place, but soon it’s time to get the bus back home.
From what started out as a spur of the moment idea, the evening turned out to be one full of fun and even some adventure – a good evening in West Norfolk.