My fun project for this week was to spend time planning our next big walking vacation in England in August. It was a good distraction from thinking about the stock market! The purpose of this post is to simply tell you what was fun for me: I dove into the details for our trip to England in August. It’s very concrete in my mind now, and I get pleasure now from anticipating a future experience.
Patti and I have traveled enough times to England to know we can completely plan our trip. Walking is our primary activity. The UK has 16 national trails but 150 long distance paths of more than 50 miles. We’ve liked the long-distance paths in northern England, and we’ve visited the Lake District and planned day hikes for at least five years. We plan so we don’t have to rent a car; we find it’s far more relaxing for us to stay in as few places as possible. That means takes some work to make sure we have the logistics right. Our August trip is a bit more complex: it’s an area we have never visited before, and we are walking a 47-mile linear route. I’ve got to make sure I can arrange buses or taxis to take us to the start of our walks and get us back to our lodging.
The internet makes this so much easier than my efforts years ago. I describe some of the things one can do.
== Pick the trail ==
We are walking 47 miles of The Norfolk Coast Path, from Hunstanton to Cromer. I picked this trail because it is accessible from London and very easy. Easy is definitely okay for our first trip after my surgery. I planned it as seven walking days. I added a rest day. We definitely aren’t pushing it. Most days will be six miles. Two days are a bit over eight. This looks to be a nice trail because most days we walk through a nice village roughly the middle of the day. It’s a real luxury to be able to stop and find a place for coffee or lunch.
We can see what the trail looks like for the full 47 miles. I can enter “Norfolk Coast Path” into Google Maps. I see an overview of the trail. I can zoom in on the satellite view, I have the view of someone walking the trail! I find this amazing. This YouTube also gives a great overview.
== Where to Stay ==
The guidebook I ordered arrived last weekend. It has very detailed maps. It shows distance for suggested walking itineraries, describes the villages, recommends best places and stay, and suggests other things to do.
I picked out two places to stay along the 40-mile stretch. The first place is in Thornham at the end of the first day’s walk. The second is in Blakeney, two days from the end. I used Google maps and TripAdvisor to find places that look to be way above average. We are happier when we spend a bit more on the place to stay and a nicer room. (Patti paid for the flights with miles, so spending a bit more on rooms is an easy decision.) All the places I looked at show their rooms on their web site. I couldn’t book the room we wanted on their site. I called. At both places, we have one room for the first night and then our preferred room for three nights.
== Logistics ==
We won’t rent a car. It’s pretty easy to sort out the logistics to get to where we stay the first night in Thornham. We land at Heathrow at 7:40 AM. I can buy tickets now for the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station. Google tells me that it’s a 20-minute cab ride to King’s Cross Station. I use this site to find we can catch the 9:42 AM direct train to King’s Lynn. At King’s Lynn, Google tells me it’s a 35-minute cab ride from the train station to Thornham. We’ll likely be in Thornham by 1:00 PM UK time.
The return is a bit easier. We’ll take a train from Cromer to Norwich and stay there to explore for a day and then take the direct train to London; we’ll stay four nights there.
I had to sort out the logistics for each day. We have to get to a different starting point each day and get back. This route is similar to our travels along a 23 mile stretch of Hadrian’s Wall last fall. A road closely parallels the trail. A bus runs at one-hour intervals both ways. I can zoom in to see that Google shows all the stops. The stop is right at the first place we stay and .2 miles from the second. We can always catch a bus to our starting point and back. Taxis are generally easily available, but I haven’t figured that option yet.
== Where to eat ==
I normally use Google maps and TripAdvisor to make a list of places to eat and figure out the details when we get there. The person we talked to at Anna’s in Thornham suggested we make dinner reservations at that time of year. Google, TripAdvisor and this site were great in help in figuring out where we might want to eat. It must be a busy time of year. I can book now for August at a surprising number of restaurants.
== Entertainment ==
On our free day, we’ll probably take a boat ride from Blakeney to see seals and birds on an outer island. That will depend on the weather. Patti and rocking boats don’t mix.
Ideally, we find a theater or playhouse near where we are staying. The guide book said Hunstanton had a theater. I went on the web site and found they have a Queen tribute band on our second night. It looked like we were the first to buy tickets. Patti bought the best in the house. That should be fun.
There’s also a variety show in a pavilion on the pier at Cromer at the end. We haven’t decided on that one. Patti will sort out the London theaters for the four nights we stay in Covent Garden. She’ll book three shows for sure. Those theaters and shows are always great.
Conclusion: I really enjoy the task of detailed planning for our trips abroad. What we will do and where we will stay is very concrete. I get present pleasure by anticipating a future experience. I can do all the detailed for our trips to England. It’s comfortable for us, since we’ve been there so many times. It’s easy to find a new walking trail or an area with great day hikes.