More Historic Churches – route 7

On Wednesday, with a favourable forecast of sunshine and a modest breeze, I decided to do some more historic churches, concentrating on a cluster west of North Walsham, to the coast, and north of Stalham – based on a circular route of about 40 miles. On my return journey I took the opportunity to ‘tick off’ a church I’d missed on an earlier ride – in total I cycled 85km and visited 18 churches.

The Route


The Churches

St Peter & St Paul Knapton, All Saints Mundesley, St Margaret Paston, All Saints Edingthorpe, St Andrew Bacton, St Margaret Witton by Walsham, All Saints Crostwight, St Peter Ridlington, All Saints Walcott, St Mary Happisburgh, St Andrew Hempstead, All Saints Lessingham, St Mary East Ruston, St Peter Brunstead, St Nicholas Dilham, St Peter & St Paul Honing, St Nicholas North Walsham and, missing from Route 1, St Margaret Thorpe Market.

The Photos 

St Peter & St Paul, Knapton

St Peter & St Paul Knapton

Detail of the roof with elaborate fluttering angel supports


All Saints, Mundesley, in the heart of ‘Poppy Land’

All Saints Mundesley

The gallery at the west end


St Margaret, Paston


In the chancel, several tombs of the Paston family – who live on through the extensive collection of their letters


Never one to ignore a birding moment – these Whooper Swans, depicted in one of the stained glass windows


All Saints, Edingthorpe, with it’s unusual saxon round tower topped with a medieval hexagonal addition

All Saints Edingthorpe

Inside, extensive 14th century wall paintings


St Andrew, Bacton

St Andrew Bacton

And an unusual grave stone – rather Arts and Crafts looking I thought


St Margaret, Witton by Walsham

St Margarets Witton by Walsham

All Saints, Crostwight, with it’s unusual tiled tower roof  – tucked away down a grass track

All Saints Crostwight

St Peter, Ridlington

St Peter Ridlington 2

Inside, an interesting fragment of medieval? glass

St Peter Ridlington

All Saints Walcott


St Mary, Happisbugh, a huge church perched on the cliff edge


The light and spacious interior, decorated for a wedding I assume

St Mary Happisburgh

St Andrew, Hempstead, undergoing extensive renovation to the chancel

St Andrew Hempstead

Detail of a gargoyle water spout

St Andrew Hempstead 2

All Saints, Lessingham – a  lovely wildflower haven


St Mary, East Ruston

St Mary East Rushton

A delightful rood screen – the entrance to the chancel guarded by two carved lions

St Mary East Rushton 2

St Peter, Brunstead


St Nicholas, Dilham – re-built in the 1930’s, with little of real interest, except perhaps it’s isolated location

St Nicholas Dilham

St Peter and St Paul, Honing

St Peter & St Paul Honing 2

Interior of St Nicholas, North Walsham – the exterior is currently covered in scaffolding!


Finally, missed during my very first Norfolk churches cycle tour – St Margaret of Antioch, Thorpe Market

St Margaret of Antioch

Weird or what

A month ago, having got back from our birding trip to Lesbos, practically the first birds I saw on my next ‘duty day’ at Cley NWT were Temminck’s Stints – a scarce species in Britain, but one we’d seen well in Greece only days earlier. Today I arrive at Cley, having just returned from Iceland, only to discover that a Red-necked Phalarope was on the reserve – last week we were seeing hundreds! How weird is that? Heaven knows what might turn up when we get back from Goa!

Although rather distant, todays adult female in full summer dress (a plumage we rarely see in Britain) was a real ‘spanker’. This digiscoped grab shot doesn’t do it justice:


However, it does give me an excuse to ‘show-case’ a few more RNP shots from Iceland!

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Aren’t they gorgeous..

Land of Ice and Fire

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Last week we spent a few days in Iceland with brother Rob and his wife Gi from Australia and Bob and Sue, our long time birding buddies. We flew easyJet from Luton and stayed in two places – the excellent guesthouse and cafe of Vogafjos, on the shores of Lake Myvatn (Lake of the midges!) and the hotel at Stykkisholmur  –  location for some of the filming of the recently released Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Iceland has a pretty limited resident bird population, which is augmented by a range of summer migrants. Our ‘not to be missed’ list included the ‘big three’ Harlequin Duck, Barrow’s Goldeneye and Brunnich’s Guillemot – which mostly have their only European breeding presence in Iceland. We did see sixty or so species in the five days we were there but missed out on Gyr Falcon and Red (Grey) Phalarope – oh well, gives us a reason to return. By way of compensation though was the spectacular scenery – volcanos, waterfalls and fumerals.

First though the birds, starting naturally with the water birds. Fourteen species of duck breed on Lake Myvatn, the main reason being the abundant food supply, as can be seen in this photo of a male Wigeon..


.. and from this shot. They aren’t the biting kind of midge, like you get in Scotland, but boy there are a lot of them and they get everywhere – making birding impossible at times!


Long-tailed Duck are present in small numbers – males in breeding plumage are difficult to beat


First of the ‘big three’ Barrow’s Goldeneye – two males with three females. Myvatn is the principal location for this rarest of breeding nearctic ducks in Europe


Slavonian Grebe is the only member of this genus which breeds in Iceland – just gorgeous


Second of the ‘big three’ is the stupendous Harlequin Duck, which move from the icy, fast flowing streams to the flood plains of the Laxa river for just two months of the year to breed


Red-necked Phalarope are just about everywhere in Iceland!


A couple of other species which are surprisingly common, Snow Bunting and Redwing (of the Icelandic race)

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Now for the sea birds, first Arctic Skua..


.. which prey on the abundant Arctic Tern


Glaucous Gull, rather than Iceland Gull, are surprisingly the only breeding ‘white wingers’ on Iceland


Last of the ‘big three’ – Brunnich’s Guillemot, a rare Arctic breeder – last seen at Portland Dorset in December 2013!


and Black Guillemot or ‘Tystie’, as it’s known in Scotland


An added bonus at these seabird cliffs was the small group of Orca – Killer Whale, hunting off-shore


Now some of that spectacular scenery I was telling you about



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Finally, the iconic church at Stykkisholmur – watch out for it in the movie!





What a Spectacle (updated 18/6)


Spectacled Warbler, Gun Hill, 2nd June 2014

I was at ‘work’ all day today at Cley NWT so when the news broke at lunch time of a singing male Spectacled Warbler, up the road at Gun Hill – it was a tense afternoon! I finally got away at four and headed straight for the site. Parking was easier than I’d anticipated and then the long yomp down to the sea wall, along the board-walk and 300m beyond to where the bird was showing reasonably well to the assembled crowd. I managed a few acceptable grab shots before heading back home.

Spectacled Warbler is a mega rarity – this being only the second confirmed record for Norfolk. It was a ‘British lifer’ for me – my first for 2014, a Norfolk ‘tick’ obviously and went some way to making up for missing the Black-headed Bunting, which appeared virtually on my doorstep, whilst we were away in Northumberland.


Today, 18th June, we paid a return visit to Gun Hill in the hope that Jane would finally connect. Although the weather was rather unpromising, the bird did eventually start singing and showed occasionally.  A couple of better shots showing the distinctive features of smokey grey head contrasting with white throat and pink breast, rufous wing panels, broken white eye-ring and strongly coloured pinkish yellow legs

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For interesting comparison, here is a shot taken a few years ago in the Canary Islands