Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Travel Tuesdays: Seals in Norfolk

selfie on the seal boat, August 28 2013; Norfolk, England

It's been a while since I shared our Norfolk honeymoon with you, hasn't it?  Sorry, dear readers.  We started with champagne on the beach a few weeks ago and then moved onto a history lesson at the royal residence of Sandringham and now it's time for a completely different adventure: seals!  Or, as Jon called them, Sea Charlies.  You'll understand why when you see the photos!

We woke up not quite early enough on Wednesday morning and, after a hastier-than-expected breakfast and a few snappish comments because we'd worked out the timings wrong, jumped onto the trusty Coasthopper bus for an hour's journey east along the coast.

We collected our tickets in the sweet little harbor town of Blakeney; the boat tour left from the next village down, so we made our way to the Coastal Path and set off for a half hour's walk through the marshes until we reached the quay.  (By the way, we ended up in Morston, which in the Domesday Book of 1086 is called Merstuna, meaning "farmstead by the marsh."  Don't you just love history?)  The clouds began to scud away as Jon and I wound our way along a slightly scary wooden dock, and my spirits lifted as we clambered into our little boat.

As we chugged along, the brilliant sunlight glittering on the water, we saw a falcon pursuing a tern through the sky - it was amazing!  We were all spellbound, waiting to see which bird would win, but, poetically, we lost them when they flew into the sun.  A few minutes later, we rounded a curve of coast and spotted the seals on Blakeney Point.

Norfolk is home to colonies of Common and Gray Seals, and there must have been a hundred of them sunning themselves on the sand and, as we approached, sliding through the water around our boat.  Common Seals have their young over the summer, so there were a few small ones amongst the crowd.  They were especially inquisitive - the bigger seals were friendly enough but seemed sort of blas√©, and the babies followed every pass of the boat.

Seals are incredibly graceful in the water, but have you ever seen them move on land?  It's unbelievably ungainly.  They sort of hitch themselves forward, propelled by the weight of their bodies, hardly using their flippers at all.  When they roll over, they give this great heave and shift from the sheer strength of their torsos - effective but totally inelegant.  (Sea Charlies, right?  I think they might be distantly related.)  Off the land, though, they dance!  The water was very clear and we could see them slicing through alongside the boat, moving so quickly and cleanly.  We made a few passes back and forth along the main stretch where all the seals were and then, after about 20 minutes, made our way back to the dock.

It was such a beautiful morning and Jon and I were overcome by the sheer gloriousness of being together, so we decided to find the Coastal Path again and walk to the next village instead of getting back on the bus.  45 minutes, 2 and a bit miles, way too many photos, and several delicious handfuls of blackberries picked from the bushes along the pathway, and we arrived at Stiffkey.  Jon and I found a gorgeous medieval church as we explored while waiting for the bus - but no, that can be another post!  Let's focus on the seals and the scenery today, shall we?


  1. I woke up on Saturday yearning for the North Sea.

    And you two look crazy young in that picture! Sea air youthens you!

    Max has walrus-like movements. It's hilarious.

  2. Omigosh that picture of the blue sky and sea is just beautiful! Looks like you had a great day. :)

  3. New reader - as a Londoner married to an American (and someone who has, shamefully, never actually been to Norfolk - definitely on the to-do list now) I had to say I love your blog!


  4. Oops, sorry, that Guest comment was from me - just signed up for Disqus and having some issues!


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