Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Journey to the edge of the earth...

...  well the eastern most point of mainland Britain anyway.

so having spent a further few days in Cambridge doing jobs (for us and other people), falling out with my parents (well everyone can have too much of a good thing...) and getting moved on by the police (by someone else's extremely petty neighbour - we have since found out they are a parking pedant, not just anti-gypsy...) we decided that Cambridge had had enough of us so it was time for a trip.  And with a general westwards plan for the near future, the obvious option seemed to be to head east.

Thus it was that on a rainy Wednesday morning we set out on an expedition to the east to find the eastern most point of mainland Britain - which happens to be in Lowestoft, Suffolk.

Having been to Suffolk before and recently, we decided to go via the north norfolk coast and so it was that we found ourselves in Wells-next-the-Sea which was very nice - if a bit wet.

After a spot of lunch and a nice cup of tea, we set out on a walk up the channel to the actual beach about half a mile away.  The beach was everything I expected it to be, based on my childhood family holidays to british beaches - cold, wet and largely deserted :)  But we enjoyed it nonetheless, as I have been brought up to do!

After Wells, we went to Sheringham for a walk on the prom - which was equally nice but equally wet - so in the gathering gloom we decided to head for camp.  Having done a bit of pre-trip research on ukcampsites.co.uk, we had picked a farm near Holt - mainly based on cost (ie cheap) and were happy to find it as described - complete with free range chickens and "back to basics" concrete & breeze block barn toilet block.

It may surprise you to know that this was our first actual night "away" in Jules - ie not on someone's driveway - and we quickly discovered that one of the many advantages of van over tent is that there is no set up time so you can get right on with the important things - beer, burgers and fire

As expected from my FB cafe experience, flame-grilled cheese burgers were ready in minutes and dinner was served - all good in our little home on wheels so far...

The next morning the sun shone and was fortunately still shining by late morning when we finally decided it was time to get on with the day.  After a camping first of banana fritters for breakfast we set off for Cromer for the traditional beach town past times of cycling on the prom, walking on the pier and icecream - yummy.

Moving on down the coast we took advantage of the other great plus point of van over tent - you take your kettle with you - and stopped in a small cliff top carpark over a WWII fortified beach front in the sunshine - bliss.

The rest of the day, whilst sunny and passed pleasantly by pottering along through odd villages clinging to the back of the natural cliff sea defences of the east Norfolk coast, was not so successful.  Dismissing the option of returning to a campsite we have been to before, and know to be cheap(ish) with good facilities, as "cheating", Will decided that the only way his life would be complete would be to stop in a campsite on a cliff top over looking the sea.  We had no idea where such a nirvana might be found, having not looked anywhere other than north norfolk for campsites but encouraged by the prevalence of campsites in that part of the world, we decided to press on south towards our eventual goal of Lowestoft, confident that such a place would exist and happy in the knowledge that the closer we got to Lowestoft that evening, the less early we would have to get up the following day before having to head home.

Unfortunately our confidence was misplaced as, despite a plethora of brown signs with promising sounding names such as Long Beach, Beach Farm and Broadlands Beach, the reality was a series of static caravan holiday parks in towns or large villages with tourist trap neon lighted arcades where the touring pitches, if any, were the three car parking spaces between the entrance and the toilet block with an electric socket next to them - on the plus side we could have walked through the hedge to McD's....  hmmm maybe not.

Eventually, following a tip-off from an occupant of one such static palace, we ended up at Heathlands Beach, just south of Lowestoft.  As with elsewhere, the "beach" part of the name turned out to be a bit misleading (but we could at least hear the sea in this one!) and with individual service points at each pitch including electric hook up, a tap and a TV point (!!!), we suspected it would be somewhat more expensive than the previous night, but it was at least a proper pitch, in a camping field with space for the BBQ so we set out to make the best of it with burgers (well they were nice ones on 2for1 in Sainsbury's - we usually have a broader menu selection!), fire and wine and jolly nice it was too.
The sun was still shining the following morning so although our fears about the facilities=cost equation proved to be founded, with more banana fritters for breakfast, life was still pretty good as we headed out for our easterly goal.

Unlike the most southerly point of britain (the Lizard) which is marked with a fab tea shop, clinging on to the cliff side with *the* best cream teas (or at least that was the case 6 years ago) or the most south-westerly point (Land's End), which is a spectactular cliff top vista (provided you avoid the tacky amusement arcade), the most easterly point in Britain is found by following some very discrete signs through a tatty industrial estate full of second hand car lots with a gas works on one side and a fish procesing plant on the other - not quite the dream.

Once you're there though, there is a big pavement compass effort which tells you you're there and how far away much nicer places are - most of which are on our route!

But one thing is certain, from here, the only way is west....


  1. I know a good campsite on a cliff, but, being in the Gower, it would be quite a trek for you. Still, I suppose you're not put off by the prospect of a long journey.

  2. :D Wales is a bit out of the way on this trip - maybe next year...