The weather was not improving, but we wanted to see the Norfolk coast, so off we went anyway. We bought tickets for the Bittern Line Ranger, Sheringham train station a sightseeing special which allows you to get off and on the Bittern Line Rover (the train) at all or any of its stops, and also ride the Coast Hopper (the bus along the north coast of Norfolk) and get on and off at any or all of its stops.
We did our best, but on a cold, rainy day, we didn't fancy hopping off of either conveyance!! The train went through Salhouse, Hoveton & Wroxham, Worstead, North Walsham and Gunton, past Roughton Road, through Cromer and West Runton, finally stopping at Sheringham, the end of the train line. We are such Anglophiles that we delighted in the names of the villages, wondering if there was a South Walsham, and fancying (but not doing) the hop-on and hop-off that our tickets entitled us to do.
In Sheringham it was cold and raining (no change there) so we decided we'd go immediately to the bus. The stop was just down the street, and there was just enough room for us to get under the shelter. We didn't even give the Tourist Info Center, just fifty feet away, a thorough examination. Sheringham bus shelter
The Coast Hopper was initiated in 1996 when the rail line was shortened; in addition to accommodating summer tourists, it provides transport from the small villages along the coast to shopping centers. The drivers are truly skillful, as there are places along that road where one must put the vehicle in reverse to allow oncoming traffic to slide by. Somehow they kept a schedule despite the limited visibility.
We thought we got some interesting looks from the other passengers, all locals, for we were certainly the earliest, if not the only, tourists of this watery, chilly day.
The rain grew so heavy that the bus windows were fogged. The only way to see out was through the windshield. The bus lurched, and we were in the higher seats, where we lurched more. After passing through one town, and wondering where to get off, we asked a fellow passenger for a Towards the harbor in Wells recommendation. She fancied the town we'd just been through, as a good place to buy ceramics.
But our stomachs made the decision for us. With all the riding on trains and buses and standing at the bus stop in Sheringham, it was lunch time, so we left the bus at Wells-next-the-Sea and walked on slippery cobblestones to the closest establishment, the Crown Hotel.
If it had been a warm and sunny day, we would happily have stayed overnight at the Crown Hotel, talking to the staff, several of whom were young people from New Zealand, travelling the world and making enough money waiting on tables to buy their next tickets. The food was excellent, and the dining rooms extensive, telling us that sometimes the Crown would be crowded with holiday visitors.
But for the careful directions from the staff at the Crown, we might still be wandering through the wilds of Norfolk; instead, we found a street lined with little shops and houses that made us think of an England of 50 or more years ago. We could see that it would be a completely The fleet at low tide charming place to visit in high summer. The roads went down hill fairly dramatically toward the water's edge.
But as we descended, step by step, to the harbor, the wind kept increasing in intensity. There was some canyon effect up the narrow street, and when we reached the corner by the marina we were struck by a wind which must have had gale force. Bob, who uses numbers, insisted the gust was 40 knots, despite anything we might have seen in the morning weather report. We couldn't move until it slackened, and struggled to stand up. Through the rain (not pelting, just a mist that fogs one's glasses and gets in one's eyes), we could see the sailboats at anchor, surrounded by mud, because it was the dreariest looking low tide.
"That's nice," we said, echoing Bob's father, and went back up the next street, away from the fierce wind. It was in fact, much easier when A cheery blue lobster beckons the wind was at our backs.
"What shall we do now," said one of us, and the other, of the same mind, replied, "Get back on the bus." And so we did. Mercifully the rain let up on the bus ride back to Sheringham, and we could at least see out the windows. But we were not tempted to hop off, for we knew it would be another hour before we could hop on again.
In Sheringham we started walking towards the shore, but turned around. It was still gray, and when the next train neared (also on an hourly schedule) we boarded it. We debated getting off in Cromer, the largest town on the North Coast, but it was after 3:00, and we knew we'd have to wait an hour for the next train, which rhymes with rain. The thought of returning home to a warm bath was really inviting.
And so we did.