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15 April 2006 @ 12:00 pm
Weybourne and Blakeney: Steam Trains and Seals  
On my first full day in Norfolk, I took a steam train from Weybourne to Sheringham Park in the morning. In the evening I went on a seal watching trip starting from Blakeney on the north coast.

Places: Weybourne, Sheringham Park and Blakeney, Norfolk
Date: April 15, 2006
Weather: Dull but no rain.

The North Norfolk Railway runs between Sheringham, my base in Norfolk, and Holt. It's also called the Poppy Line. I chose to drive to Weybourne and leave my car there for a train ride. The photo shows the northbound platform with a lantern that says "Weybourne".

British Railways Logo
There were quite a lot of old locomotives and trains waiting for repairs along a siding. This black locomotive has the old British Rail logo with a pink lion with blue claws holding a wheel. It's mostly the length of the lion's tongue and what happened to the rest of the lion under the crown that fascinates me.

I had some time before my train was due and I spent some of it taking photos around the station. This is the line as it goes toward Holt. You can see the soot from the steam locomotives on the bridge. I also like the bright red semaphore.

The gloss was immaculate on all the wooden details on the station but this sign was slightly the worse for wear. I quite liked the pattern in the supporting fretwork but the brown colour didn't do a whole lot for me.

A train drawn by a steam locomotive is arriving from Sheringham. The black and red paint and the steam, of course, add a lot of drama to this way of travelling.

I found a very simple, analogue user interface for the heating inside the carriages. From a usability point-of-view, it could be improved by moving the word "Heating" to under the dial so that it's not obscured when read from a seated position.

Steam Train
A train is pulling away from Sheringham Park station and heading across the fields toward the town of Sheringham. This photo makes me think of the Hercule Poirot movies with the little Belgian, Agatha-Christie detective played by David Suchet. They always have exquisite period settings like this one.

My intention was to go for a walk in Sheringham Park before returning to Weybourne. Sheringham Park didn't turn out to be all that exciting, unfortunately. The only photo I took was this one from the top of a viewing tower. It shows a folly in the distance. It's a nice enough view but not really worth going out of your way for.

Blakeney proved much more exciting. This is just a little taster, an aubretia growing vertically in a knapped flint wall.

I guess it was partly that it was so early in the season. Walking down narrow, winding lanes flanked by quaint cottages like these seemed much more rewarding than trudging across huge expanses of lawn.

The seal watching tour was the high point of this day, without doubt. Here we are setting out from the tidal port in Blakeney. The tide is rising fast, lifting up the boats. When it's at its peak, it will cover the mud flats behind the boats. The tour was sailing in a motor boat much like the light blue one in the centre here, only a bit longer.

Near the inlet to the harbour, a sail boat is standing on its flattish bottom.

Fishing Boats
This may look like the open sea but these boats are actually in a wide channel between Blakeney Point and the mainland. You can see Blakeney Point on the right. It is owned by the National Trust, as are the salt marshes that form the coastline here. They are important habitats for shorebirds, particularly during migration.

I was on the right side of the boat, so my first clear shot of the seals on Blakeney Point was when we had just rounded the point. Here they all looked to be in deep sleep, except the pale one that is looking up in the background. A bunch of fat, spotty lumps on the shingle didn't seem very exciting but even if they never put on the show that e.g. sea lions do, things did get livelier later on.

Fishing Boat
On my side of the boat a fishing boat could be seen. It seems to be going at quite a clip, judging from the spray.

Seal in the Water
A seal swimming in the water is looking suspiciously at the boat.

Swimming Seal
Another swimming seal seems rather happier. The sun was struggling to cut through the cloud and here it was actually succeeding for a short while. Hence the warm tones on the seal's face.

Clapping Seal
It's a cliche that seals aren't very graceful on land and this photo certainly demonstrates the point. It looks as if the seal is clapping its hind flippers but in reality it was trying to move forward.

The guide on the boat told us the names of the birds that we saw. Unfortunately I don't remember what this was. It's not a redshank, because the bill is too short. Oyster catchers are more black than brown but it could be a turnstone, Arenaria interpres.

My last view of the seals shows them lazing about again. Notice the little bird next to the seal that is looking at the camera. The seal is completely ignoring it. The birds that are milling about in the air above the shingle spit are terns.

Visitors Centre
The last photo for the day shows the bright blue visitor centre on Blakeney Point. It used to be a lifeboat station. Nowadays the closest lifeboat station is in the next town over after Sheringham, Cromer. That's where I went the next day of my short break in Norfolk.

Click through for large versions (1024 x 768 pixels) to use as desktop wallpaper.

 Bien dans sa peau: staying stronganais2 on February 26th, 2010 06:51 am (UTC)
Thank you for sharing this beauty, Apel; you are a constant blessing!
mjaussonmjausson on February 26th, 2010 06:38 pm (UTC)
Aww, thanks anais2.
Hans Perssonhanspersson on February 27th, 2010 01:07 pm (UTC)
Looks like a turnstone (roskarl) to me.
mjaussonmjausson on February 27th, 2010 08:12 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the confirmation, Hans.