Where it started

A list going round on Facebook, February 2016: "which of these items have you experienced" etc. Some yes, some no, some didn't interest me. However, it put some ideas into my head, and I figured it was time I followed some of my friends in committing them to (virtual) paper. And then trying some of them out. The first challenge was undertaken on 1 March 2016, and I have no intention of ever completing the list: the more I tick off, the more I'll add.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Walk a marathon: the Norfolk Coastal Path

When I committed to training to 'walk a marathon', I was already walking a minimum of 70 miles each month by that time, usually around 3-4 miles per walk, with the occasional 5 miler, and a couple of 13 milers to train for the 15 mile sponsored London Bridges walk in September 2016.

Starting in February, work began in earnest when my fitness buddy Kim joined me. We decided that we would train by walking the whole of the Norfolk Coastal Path (around 85 miles, Hopton to Hunstanton) in sections, which we achieved in six chunks. We were joined on one of these by James and on two others by Rebecca - both of whom completed the final marathon walk with us.

Click on the links to see photographs of each of the walks, and on the map to view at larger size.

Sunday 26 February: Winterton-Happisburgh (11.5 miles)

Sunday 12 March: Winterton-Hopton (14.5 miles)

Sunday 26 March: Happisburgh-West Runton (16.1 miles)

Sunday 9 April: Stiffkey-Cromer (19.4 miles)

Sunday 14 May: Wells-Hunstanton (22.8 miles)

Saturday 20 May: Wells-Blakeney plus Blakeney Point (19.6 miles)

Each time we'd completed a walk, we said "we can't imagine walking any further..." - but we always did. Interestingly, the final five miles of the 'real thing' were the toughest - from mile 23 to 28 - and that was unknown territory at that point, as 22.8 was our furthest until then.

The coastal path is an extraordinary and wonderful landscape. Each section that we walked had its own remarkable character and atmosphere - and level of difficulty. The shingle beaches were the hardest, especially Blakeney Point - three miles in each direction mostly on heavy shingle. There's the uninspiring Great Yarmouth town centre, which then gives way to the rather lovely path alongside the industrial boatyards and down to glorious Gorleston. There's the fabulous marshes to the western end of the walk, around the Stiffkey-Wells stretch. There are hills (yes, really, in Norfolk!) in the Sheringham area, and Beeston Bump. There's the only bit of coastline in Norfolk where one can see a sunset directly across the sea: Hunstanton. There's the alarming coastal erosion around Happisburgh and west of there. There are walks across beaches, on dunes and inland, on shingle and on hard sand and on soft sand.

This was a pilgrimage of nature, enjoying and appreciating our beautiful county, pushing our physical boundaries further than we believed possible, and learning all the while. I am so delighted to have shared this remarkable experience with my lovely friend Kim, every step of the way, and look forward to new challenges together.

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