“What shall we do tomorrow?” mused the Captain. Before even a single prospect had crystallised in Boatwif’s mind he answered his own question. “Let’s go and see the sea - let’s go to King’s Lynn.”
So that’s why on Saturday the car bowled out beyond Huntingdon, past Warboys and dipped down onto ever so flat Cambridgeshire. The A141 road across the Fens sits on an embankment above the land. There are few hedges, fewer trees but a fair number of wind turbines. The sky is a huge expanse, high above vast sweeps of flat and almost featureless agricultural land. Out we drove, heading north east, past Chatteris and March, over dead straight drains, catching occasional glimpses of wide rivers channelled between seriously steep dykes.
Welcome to Norfolk, Nelson’s County proclaimed a roadside sign. Surprisingly there were orchards, one overgrown, abandoned now, others neatly pruned. Trees became more frequent. Then the outskirts of King’s Lynn was at last reached. The Captain was bewildered, temporarily, by sheer visual overload: the width of the River Great Ouse, the sight of a medieval stone archway to the town, the huge retail parks on either side of the town’s ring road, railway lines... then the way into the town was found.
“To see the sea” was the Captain’s shorthand for seeking out King’s Lynn’s new moorings. A 30 metre floating pontoon was installed last July, so this was an advance recce for a possible boating adventure. Would it, could it, be possible to cross the Wash to Boston after Bedford’s July River Festival? To boat from North Norfolk over to Lincolnshire? A Wash crossing can be done via Peterborough and Wisbech... but would a King’s Lynn-Boston route be simpler...?
Car parked there was a walk to the water side – through a park, past town defences
There had to be a stroll along the river side: here the Great Ouse is distinctly tidal, the water on the ebb during early afternoon. Not far upstream, alongside wonderful buildings, are the newly installed moorings.
After a wonderful lunch in the cafe at Marriott’s Warehouse
Opposite is the striking-looking Trinity Guildhall,
Mission all but achieved (moorings checked out, but what about the sea?) the next day saw a first visit to Castle Rising, about four miles further north. Here a staggeringly impressive Norman keep
On then to Hunstanton and a sand-blasted, seaweed-churning stroll by the sea. No ‘Kiss me quick’ hat would have stayed perched on a head in the on-shore blasts. At the end of the esplanade are the famous striped chalk and carrstone cliffs.
Back home then, via a drive through the Sandringham Estate and a sighting of a Norfolk lavender field.
Objective met: we had seen the sea – but as for “very flat, Norfolk”, Cambridgeshire seems much flatter!
*Caustic lines between Amanda and Elyot in Noel Coward’s Private Lives (1930)