Postcard from Cromer

 

Firstly may I wish all my followers and everyone who visits this blog a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

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New years fireworks over Cromer pier

We spent a few days over the new year just around the coast in the seaside town of Cromer.  I still had to go into work but it was nice to be able to go out and celebrate without needing the car (where we live is several miles from anywhere!).  The fireworks were excellent, shame it was blowing a gale straight off the sea!

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Cliff top path to town

Traditionally a fishing town famous for its ‘Cromer Crabs’, it was in the early 19th century that it started to become fashionable as a holiday resort.  This was boosted in the 1880’s when Clement Scott wrote of ‘Poppylands’ combined with the coming of the railways. The church tower (on the left of the image) is the highest in Norfolk.

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I would liked to have got a perfectly symmetrical shot looking straight down the pier, except there is a lamp post on my right stopping me!

The pier as you see it now has stood since 1902.  There have been jetties and wooden piers on this site since the thirteen hundreds all ending up destroyed by the power of the North Sea.  In fact this pier nearly ended up the same way.  In November 1993 a barge broke free of it’s moorings in a storm and cut the pier in half.  Twenty years later and a storm surge caused considerable damage.  It’s always a popular place for visitors.  Beyond the the pavilion theatre is the R.N.L.I lifeboat shed.  Cromer’s lifeboat men are renowned for their bravery, the most famous being Henry Blogg.

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The Henry Blogg memorial

Finally before I go I would like to thank petrel41 for nominating me for their ‘Real Neat Blog Award’  Check out their blog https://dearkitty1.wordpress.com/DSC_0218a

 

 

 

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Just cannot think of a title for this image.

 

 

 

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Cantley

If you buy sugar from the UK there is a good chance that it started here.  Standing on the banks of the River Yare, overlooking the Cantley Marshes, this is Cantley sugar beet processing factory.  Every day during the winter period over 8,000 tonnes of beet is cooked to extract the sugar.  Hundreds of huge lorries daily bring the crop from a radius of over forty miles.  The smoke can be seen from quite some distance due to the flatness of our countryside. I live over 20 miles away and if the wind is in the south I can smell it.

On the plus side there is many acres of settlement lagoons where the sludge is deposited.  These are a magnet for waders and wildfowl.  When the factory is not in production you are allowed to go birdwatching there, and it has turned up many rarities.

 

Cruising

For me one of the best times of the year to cruise the rivers and broads of Norfolk has to be late autumn/early winter.  Gone are the crowds of summer with their pirate flags and captain hats.  The reeds turn gold and on a fine still day there is a peace.  Wildlife encounters are around every bend, maybe a majestic Marsh Harrier or elusive Bittern, a flash of electric blue as a Kingfisher speeds by.  Flocks of ducks and geese abound and if you are very lucky you may glimpse a shy Otter.

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On the River Bure

What would you choose?  A sleek modern cruiser with all the features and comforts of home?  Or perhaps you prefer the traditional wooden boats of the 1950’s.

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Approaching Ant Mouth

I spent forty years working as a boat builder on the Broads.  In that time I have made everything from rowing dinghies to around the world sailing yachts, cheap and cheerful holiday cruisers to a £million  floating palace for an Arab prince.  The best times however were when I was out moving the boats from one yard to another at this time of the year!

Big City – Manchester Canals

I must admit I’m not very comfortable in big cities.  Coming from the countyside I find them claustrophobic and at times intimidating.  My daughter the ‘Lemming’ is now in her third year at university in Manchester studying music journalism (check out her blog https://crazystupidmusic.wordpress.com).  We have just returned from a visit, she always tells me to leave my camera behind as I could be a target for muggers!  This time I took the old Nikon and sneaked out of the hotel to get some images.

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Rochdale Canal looking west to lock 92

I am always drawn to water and am fascinated by old canals.  These man-made waterways were constructed in the 17 and 1800’s, during the industrial revolution, to provide transport in and out of cities for raw materials and finished goods.  With the coming of the railways they mostly fell into disrepair.  However in recent times most have been brought back to life, providing boating holidays and recreation, a ‘green lung’ in the heart of urban sprawl.

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Castlefield Basin where the Bridgewater Canal meets the River Medlock

It was a lovely walk in the cool early morning sun and no I wasn’t mugged.  People on their way to work ignoring me or perhaps wondering what I was photographing.

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Narrow boats outside ‘The Wharf’ public house
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Duke’s Lock No92. The start/finish of the Rochdale Canal

This section of the Rochdale Canal that I walked was the last to be finished and opened in 1804.  It is called the Deansgate Locks.  The locks, nine in total, are used to raise or lower the barges and narrow boats and must require a fair bit of physical effort to operate.

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A fine old railway bridge, looking east toward the Deansgate Tunnel
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Lock 91 at the end of the Deansgate Tunnel
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Lock 90 looking west. The old railway arches on the right have been transformed into swanky bars and restaurants

Hope you enjoyed this post.  It has been a bit of an indulgence for me, a chance to try a new type of photography.

Ruins

Without doubt the most photographed/painted landmark on the Norfolk Broads, this is my effort.  What you are seeing is virtually all that remains of the Abbey of St Benet’s Hulme, part of the gatehouse, a small section of defensive wall and the shell of a much later mill.

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St Benet’s Abbey near Ludham Norfolk

Built besides the River Bure near the junction with the River Ant, in a very isolated spot, the very earliest monastery is from the 10th century.  In medieval times it was one of the richest and and most powerful in the Country.  They controlled the digging of peat for fuel, it was these peat diggings that flooded forming the shallow lakes known as the Broads.  The Abbey was the only one not dissolved by King Henry VIII but given to the Bishop of Norwich for joining the new protestant Church of England.  The Bishop dismantled the buildings selling off the stone and the last remaining monks left, knowing when they weren’t wanted!

The Abbey fell into ruin, just the gatehouse and a few stones marking the Church.  In the 1700’s an ingenious farmer constructed a mill into the gatehouse building, removing the upper floor so the sails could turn, no need for planning permission in those days!  Initially for grinding rape seed for oil lamps later converted to a drainage pump this is the oldest mill in the Broads.  It was abandoned in the 1860’s after a gale destroyed the cap.

Now owned by the Norfolk Archaeological Trust.  They have stabilised the ruins and tidied the site with paths and interpretation boards and a nice car park,  but on dark nights as mist covers the marshes the ghosts of monks are said to haunt the area.