Walking – Holkham

Slightly overcast but with a rapidly clearing sky

Wind from the South-west

Warm (short sleeves warm)

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As always (I’m a creature of habit) my Holkham walk starts by turning left at the carpark and walking on the path behind the pines. This is mainly because with the prevailing south-westerlies, the wind blows from behind when exposed on the walk back along the beach.  Reed wind-rustle and bird-song dominate. I stop to inspect the leaves of a holm oak (Quercus ilex) at the side of the path. There are a lot of these short, round trees growing here on the coast and recently I have noticed that instead of looking fresh and green their leaves are brown and slightly curled. This one is no exception and each leaf is spotted with small brown spots. The RHS website tells me that this blight is caused by the leaf-mining moth. Luckily the trees tolerate the caterpillars that munch their leaves and continue to grow. Later in the year when the old leaves have dropped the trees should begin to look fresher.

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I always stop at this gate and have a look over – there are nearly always cormorants flying overhead on their way to or from their tree-nesting colony on the flat lands behind the beach. If I’m really lucky I might see a spoonbill as for the past couple of years they have been nesting there as well. Today I see neither but there is always the thrill of expectation.

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Through the pines, over the dunes and marram grass, and onto the beach.

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At this time of year I have to extend my walk a little further to avoid the line and posts that Holkham Estates put up to protect nesting birds: mostly terns and oystercatchers. The barrier runs right along the back of the beach and means that walkers can’t cross from beach to pines – it’s only a few hundred yards longer to walk and no hardship.

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This heavy old piece of wood is where I often sit to take in the view, and today two old palettes have appeared next to it. I sit on the palettes,

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and photograph a scrap of old rope that lies in the sand next to them – their colours are almost identical.

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On the beach the wind feels stronger and it blows dry sand diagonally across the beach. It stings my ankles as I walk barefoot. Razor shells stick up out of the sand and I have to look where I’m going in case I cut my feet. A few years ago I trod on one and my foot had a gentle reminder for the rest of the summer from the resulting cut – they are well named.

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A beach river sparkles in the sunlight as the water trickles towards the sea.

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I paddle along the edge of the water where clouds are reflected in the shallows. The bottoms of my trousers get wet. A bit further along several sandpipers join me in the breaking waves and their little legs dash backwards and forwards as they scurry in and out of the water looking for food.

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I spend several minutes trying to photograph the way the wind catches the tops of the waves just before they break, flinging droplets up and back in contrary motion…. it’s really difficult.

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Then back along the beach and back to the car. I can’t count the number of times I’ve done this exact walk but each time there is something new to see. The tides and the weather change the shape and texture of the beach and bring a different set of noticings and experiences to add to my understanding and memory.

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5 thoughts on “Walking – Holkham

  1. Charlotte

    This is a lovely comment – ‘there is always the thrill of expectation.’ That’s the case with every walk you go on! X

    Reply
  2. Susan McEwan

    Lovely to read this Amanda – I was almost there with you! I agree, a favourite walk will give something different every time, that’s the joy of it.

    Reply
  3. Lois Morgan

    I was very struck by the similarity of the pines,dunes, grasses and beach to our Tahunanui Beach area here in Nelson, New Zealand. Your photos could have been taken here! I too love doing the familiar walk regularly with my dog, and there is always something of arty interest to be found.
    Lois Morgan

    Reply
  4. charltonstitcher

    A lovely account. I can hear the call of the birds and of the waves on the beach, feel the wind on my face and smell the sea. Norfolk is a beautiful quiet place!

    Reply
  5. bluebrightly

    I enjoyed this walk….I too have taken walks in the same, watery place many times, and find it very different each time. I appreciate the sensual grasp of the whole you convey. (I got here via Evelyn Flint’s blog).

    Reply

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