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Friday, 29 March 2019

Wells Woods, Stiffkey, Friary Hills & Cley NWT!

Ok, so I didn't quite make dawn, but I did arrive at Wells Woods beach car park by 7.30am!!! I begrudgingly put £3.50 in the meter for 2 hours (its costs £6.50 for more than 2 hours!) and ambled along the path to the woods. As forecast, it was a beautiful morning and there was only a handful of cars here before I arrived.

I didn't see much at all initially – there were plenty of Chiffchaffs singing though, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Long-tailed Tits, Robins, Hedge Sparrows, Jay and Wood Pigeons, but nothing else of note. A Mallard was swimming in the Drinking Pool (in the woods off the main path). With only 15 minutes left on my car parking ticket, I managed to see all the best birds! I was sitting close by a small yew tree in the far SE corner of The Dell (a short distance off the main path) and I managed to see a striking male Brambling, an equally smart male Bullfinch, a Lesser Redpoll and a Goldcrest in the yew tree (which should have been a Firecrest!). I also saw my first Comma Butterfly this year and there were several Brimstones around. I was a little over my two hour parking ticket when I got back to my car, but got away with it! The car park was filling up quickly as I left.

I headed for Stiffkey and parked up at the campsite car park. Here I bumped into Richard (the hat) and Pete from Norwich – they had been looking in vain for the Ruddy Shelduck, that was seen earlier this morning. Had my lunch and then walked through the cliff top wood – it was beautiful up here and there were clumps of daffodils still on show and a clump of yellow gorse set the scene – its wonderful being able to see the coastline from up here. The only birds seen were: Great Tits, Blue Tits, a Wren and a Mistle Thrush which was feeding in the field, south of the wood. Walked back along the bottom path, where I saw a single Peacock Butterfly. Little Egrets, Brent Geese, Redshanks, Mallards and Black-headed Gulls were on the marsh.

I arrived at Friary Hills at Blakeney, although I wished I hadn't bothered after an incident with two rude nasty women (one woman to be precise)! As many of you will know, Friary Hills (National Trust) is out of bounds to all dogs. There are clear signs stating this at both ends of Friary Hills – a 5 year old could read the signs! One doesn't need a degree, one just needs to read the signs and take NOTICE of them! Anyway, as soon as I parked up by the gate – along came a couple with 2 big muzzled dogs (having just walked through the area and now coming out of the exit gate) – they were very polite when I spoke to them, but it was obvious they had seen the signs. Then, along comes two 'posh' ladies with two small dogs and off leads, in the same spot (well I wouldn't exactly call them ladies at all, far from it!). I said my usual spiel, but always polite, which goes something like this "I don't mean to sound rude, but are you aware that no dogs are allowed in here?" "yes" one of the ladies replied and then in a sarcastic tone said "we live here, so its ok" as she continued to walk past me. I replied "No, its not ok, it belongs to the National Trust" and before I could finish, she shouted back very loud and very aggressively "Why don't you fuck off and get a life"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! To which I replied "I have a life thank you very much". I was so taken back by what she had said, that my reply was the only thing that came to my mind at that second. On hindsight, I which I had turned back, caught up with her and said "WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY TO ME?!!! Probably a good job I didn't though to be honest!

I calmy continued my walk and climbed up the steps to the top of the hills and sat on the bench, enjoying probably one of the best views in Norfolk. You can see all of Blakeney Freshes, Blakeney Point and Cley NWT from up here and on a glorious day like today, its absolutely stunning. A short while later, I met a lovely couple, Steve and Wendy (who read my blog) who introduced themselves and we chatted for ages! They live close by and said they see tons of people walking through there with dogs and it makes them angry and frustrated too. Friary Hills is one of the few public spaces in Norfolk (that I can think of) which is dog free – well its not is it?! Some dog owners just simply will not abide and respect that!!! Why not? You have the entire Norfolk coastline and tons of other areas to walk and exercise your dog – why can't there be one small dog free place?! Whilst we sat here, several more people walked through with their dogs! It was really lovely chatting to Steve and Wendy, but I had to leave as had some errands to do.

Before I left Blakeney, I found and went into the National Trust Office, to report the incident of the lady verbally abusing me and all the other dogs I had witnessed in there and I was told it is a problem that is getting far worse! NT staff have also received the same verbal abuse from dog owners they told me – this is awful! I did suggest to the NT staff, that if they had the funds, they could position staff at both gates, to physically stop people with dogs walking through, but I'm sure they don't have the manpower/funds to do that – even if it was at the busiest times – at weekends and bank holidays, but what an awful job that would be! Its all very sad indeed. When I first moved back to Norfolk, Friary Hills seemed to have very few incidents of people walking through with dogs, but it has got a million times worse over the last few years, with the massive influx of visitors to Norfolk.

Went to Holt to deliver a DVD to someone and then went into Morston Sports outdoor wear shop, to buy a very nice velcro, fold up seat mat. Drove to Salthouse and sat in my deckchair just east of the duckpond, overlooking the willow scrub by the end of Beach Road. Had my egg sandwiches and coffee here, lovely! I then parked up at the bottom of Old Woman's Lane at Cley and walked out to the NWT hides to end the evening. Andy J. and Eddie were here too. Usual birds on the pools, but of note were 11 White-fronted Geese flying east and west, a Peregrine, Marsh Harriers and of particular note a Bittern was booming, which Eddie said had not occurred for many years!

Arrived back in King's Lynn late evening. Made sandwiches and sorted stuff out for tomorrow, then fell asleep until 10.45pm! I could have crawled into bed at that second when I saw the time, but had to write the blog! Good night!


  1. Nice to have met you Penny. Well done on the comments re. dog issues. Good luck for your return to work.

  2. Same here in the country Penny some dog owners think they have the god given right to let their pets roam anywhere, it would be a different matter if I turned up to their garden with a few sheep and let them loose.