Every so often a need to roam rises up within me like a roaring wave. I usually head to the hills and follow meandering streams towards turbulent waterfalls, but this time my feet (and more specifically, a bus) took me to the Norfolk Coast. For simplicity, I began within Norfolk’s Coastal Path in Cromer and set-off west, but without a specific end destination in mind, only a desire to follow the path in front of me.
The heat rose from below and poured down from above as I walked amid the steady humdrum of bees and grasshoppers and amongst the weaving swallows, thankful for the slight breeze carried in-land upon the glistening waves. There’s something so quiet, yet vibrant about a hazy summer’s day.
I discovered a few years ago that walking alone is very important for me. It’s difficult to put into words why, but I begin to physically feel my mind quieten with my steps, as if a physical load is literally falling away from me or I’m being unpeeled like an orange. I feel closer to nature and quite simply, more alive; more real. I gradually tune in and notice the depth of my surroundings.
A particular moment of complete stillness filled me when I noticed a formation of starlings dancing over the horizon, moving with such pure beauty and ease. In that moment, nature felt so gentle. I was not needed, or important or remotely relevant. I just was.
Sometimes life can feel so unsettled, like a seemingly ceaseless barrage of questions that need answering. What path is right and why? When really, there’s probably no right path at all, only a multitude of different ones. Walking helps me unwrap these thoughts, but primarily it connects me to what’s real – the rhythms and cycles of nature, which continue no matter what. Certainly without any input from me.
During these walks I do also take the time to read. I am no buddhist monk and thus only capable of inhabiting my thoughts for certain periods of time. Submerging myself into a completely different (and usually fictional) world provides its own form of answers.
Here are some moments of tenderness and joy that I’m keeping close:
- Swimming through the waves each morning, on a completely quiet beach.
- Being given a free calippo.
- Helping a slightly lost and befuddled lady find her direction.
- The super friendly bus driver who looked a bit like Father Christmas.
- The extraordinary setting sun that fell simultaneously with the rising full moon.
- Buying a whole apricot cake loaf, just for me.
- And finally, I have a secret love for the cheese and broccoli pasta in a packet. Dinnertime is such a treat.
For those of you who may not know about The Norfolk Coastal Path, it is an 83 mile footpath that extends from Hunstanton to Hopton-on-sea. There’s a fantastic bus called the Norfolk Coasthopper, which merrily travels up and down throughout the day, dropping beach goers, Sheingham shoppers and rucksack-wearing walkers at their desired destination. My plan is to head back and continue to explore the path in pieces. So next time I’ll re-start in Blakeney and continue towards Hunstanton.
Those who grew up in Norfolk may equally have sections of this beautiful coastline imbibed within their being. For those of you who are yet to explore it, then just know that so much beauty awaits you. Right on your doorstep.
“…Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”
– Mary Oliver
Words by Heather.
Connecting people to nature.