One of the most striking features of the East Anglian countryside is the large amount of windmills and windpumps that are scattered across the whole area, many of them in a good state of repair and some of them still functioning.
These mills played a big part in the history of the area, draining many parts of the fens and broads in order to make the area more habitable and workable.
One particularly attractive example can be found in the lovely village of Cley-next-the-sea, just along the road from Weybourne where I was staying.
Although this charming village has "next-the-sea" in it's name it has not actually been next to the sea since the 17th century, a land reclamation program has meant that the shore is now 3 kilometres away and some marsh land fills the space. The huge reed beds in this area make a perfect sanctuary for a number of bird species and a lovely area to walk through on some raised embankments.
The village itself is also interesting, there are a number of houses which are constructed from flint (a traditional material in Norfolk) and also many buildings which are influenced by the local wildlife in one way or another.
A 20 minute drive from Cley-next-the-sea takes you to Holkham Nature Reserve, a beautiful expanse of dunes and woodland stretching along the coast. I took a peaceful early morning walk along the Holkham beach to another "-next-the-sea".
The beach at Wells-next-the-sea (which is still actually next the sea) contains a huge row of over 200 beach houses all next to each other. The sunrise on this day was one of those "blue sky, no clouds and nothing happens" afairs, but it was anwyay a wonderful way to start the day. There is a special satisfaction to be gained from a few hours of activity before breakfast.
Many parts of the UK are littered with grand old houses in the middle of huge estates, a reminder that there have always been those that have and those that have not. In modern times a great number of those are opened to the public, often under the management of the National Trust. I made my way to Felbrigg Hall for a morning walk through the woods.
Encouraged by the Felbrigg experience I made my way to the Blickling Estate.
The National Trust does a great job of maintaining all of this cultural history and rural beauty for the public good, but all the good work comes at a cost. I have donated an inordinate amount of funds to the National Trust this year for parking and entry fees on my multiple UK trips, there is always a noticeable fee to park and an even more noticeable fee to enter at different destinations. All of these fees seem more-or-less reasonable in isolation but if you are taking in a number of venues in a day then it starts to be a burden.
Blickling is another enormous estate, covering 1861 hectares, and it is full of interest and beauty in it's buildings and gardens. At the time I visited there was very harsh daytime light so it was not optimal for photography... wrestling with the images I took on that afternoon took me to some strange places.
you are welcome / i am sorry (delete as appropriate)
Back in the real world my next destination was Thornham, another beautiful area with channels through the reeds, old abandoned boats and buildings, flanked by dunes covered in marram grass, leading out to a lovely beach.
East Anglia is generally very low lying, meaning that photographic interest needs to come from colours, patterns, shapes, textures and objects rather than rolling hills or strong elevation changes. This presents a different and interesting challenge.
The village of Blakeney is a perfect example of a Norfolk village, narrow roads lead past traditional flint cottages to a slipway full of boats and a marshy area reaching out to the sea. I spent my last North Norfolk evening watching the sun go down at Blakeney.
After taking the shot above I went walking through the marshes, looking for compositions, none of which made the final selection from this trip, before returning to almost exactly the same spot after dark (note the difference in the tide).
To conclude this blog episode (episode 65 in case anyone was wondering) I will return to where i started. My last North Norfolk sunrise was viewed across the reed beds at Cley-next-the-sea.
I walked through the village and back to the area near the mill. A bench was handily placed in a perfect spot for observing how the light developed as the day began.
Another North Norfolk day was under way.
Until next time,
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