Cromer

The Tour continued first thing on Monday morning with a trip to Cromer – home of crabs and candyfloss. After an age spent going round in circles trying to park I meet some colleagues by the pier in the driving rain. Huddled under the entrance we stare at the pier psyching ourselves up for a dash along its length. I’m quite a pier connoisseur (in case you haven’t guessed!) but this one feels truly scary, with lengthwise planks, slippery in the wet, big gaps between them. I’m sure it’s fine (the remedial works are minor compared to our Hastings challenges) but we are acutely aware of the crashing waves beneath. Carole and I link arms and keep our heads down. A few serious fishermen put up with the rain but there’s no sign of the primary leisure activity – crabbing. The pier has a gift shop and a restaurant at the landward end, then a large open space before you come to the 520-seat Pavilion Theatre. It’s run by Openwide International under a management contract to North Norfolk District Council.

We couldn’t quite bring ourselves to brave the winds around the end but we can see the neat RNLI station, funded mainly through bequests, on its own separate section perched on thick columns. It’s closed at 9am on a windy wet Monday but has a viewing platform and a small museum. The main RNLI museum is onshore at the Rocket House to the east of the pier, commemorating Henry Blogg, who must be the most awarded coxswain in history. When he died in 1954 he had been on the Cromer lifeboat for 53 years, had launched 387 times and had rescued 873 people. He was awarded three Gold Medals and four Silver Medals, the George Cross and the British Empire Medal. What a guy!

As a committed underdog supporter, the western prom interests me more – a rather bleak, underdeveloped section with some lovely beach huts (some of which are tiny, unchained sheds, looking like they might float off and return to their origins as bathing machines to protect the modesty of lady swimmers). A little further along are a set of 2-storey chalets above a beach café with an art deco shape and an air of 21st century neglect. We hide from the weather with our coffee and biscuits among cheap buckets and spades and beach shoes in all sizes. On the beach two children are piling up rocks into unsteady towers as tall as them. This is the dog-friendly section but my dog is all tucked up with family at my sister’s house and anyway would be hating the rain. And now it’s time to move on northwards to Scarborough…

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