Brancaster Staithe North Norfolk A step back in time

Fishing boats, Brancaster harbour, North Norfolk landscape photography framed prints

Wrote 19/11/2019

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Coal barn and flooded salt marsh with the old wooden boat at dusk.

After moving from Thornham, then stopping off to photograph Brancaster’s small but cute church of St Mary's I thought I would spend a few hours here at Brancaster staithe harbour which is a stone throw from Brancaster.

As I write this, I,m lazing looking out the motorhomes rear windows and taking in fine pastel orange and grey sunset, it’s one of those gentle types that almost feels like a pastel drawing. The time is 15.40 and there are just two cars parked up watching over the marshes.

How Times have Changed

The harbour here at Brancaster staithe is small and is fed by a large natural creek called mow creek, ome of these creeks are river like in size that twists and turns through the marshes that empty in the north sea. Most of the large creeks have pleasure craft from old-style boats through to modern yachts.

mow creek in winter brancaster north norfolk.Sadly, gone are the days of the fishing boats with only a few shell fishing boats left Fishing boats in Brancaster Staithe harbour, North Norfolk. and oddly, Once upon a time there would have been a thriving fishing community similar to what you would have seen at Great Yarmouth, most of these villages would have been built for fishing and of course the wool trade, it made Norfolk one of the richest counties in England. Times changed, the seas retreated in some places, then you have the plague and also the wool trade slowed.

Times are still changing, I,m told by the harbour master even the shellfishing boats are now a dying breed here, I feel that Norfolk has kept its old-world style way of life longer than many other places, but it is changing fast, Well-Next-The-Sea in one prime example of a overly modernised place where Londoners are buying up houses second homes. I used to love Wells with its old harbour where if you didn’t have good brakes on your car you would be visiting the crabs that lived on the river bed. Where the buildings and shops looked old but now I just drive through to get to another place.

Almost untuched by the hands of man

Anyway, where was I?, The views over the marshes are stunning at high or low tide, a day like today where there’s no wind it takes for an airy feeling, the calm before the storm feeling, you would be fooled in thinking isn’t not a dangerous place to be until the weather turns! it is one of the last natural places in the UK I guess.

Marsh reeds and Moored boats Landscape of North Norfolk UK, Brancaster Harbour. Some of the best times to come is when the tides are around 7.5 m onwards and if you are lucky and get fine still weather, it will look like a massive flat calm millpond, oddly I have yet to see any of the fishing boats leave or return home as stated before and for me it has to be Autumn onwards to visit because there are fewer humans around giving it a more open and natural feeling for me.

If you are into your shellfish, There’s a nice little shellfish and crab hut called the
crab hut it’s been there many years, my father used to buy his crabs from the hut and always used to gross me out with the winkles, they really do look like snot haha.

The perfect end to a long nights storm chasing

Small boats moored at Brancaster staithe harbour North Norfolk, landscape photography

When the clouds turn moody, these marshes take on such a dramatic look and feel. Last year I had the chance to chase a group of storms in a midsummer outbreak, starting from near Peterborough some 60 miles away. The chase was long at nearly 7 hours and it came To an end at Thornham and here, The storm about 5 miles away, it gave for some dramatic photographs and my luck was in, the tide was high and a flat calm and with the heatwave that year was ongoing, I walked out up to my waist into the harbour water (never known seawater to be that warm) with lighting streaking across the skies and I had the whole place to myself! that was about 5.30.

Final thoughts, if stepping back in time is your thing then the Norfolk coastline is the place to be but hurry up before its too late! Times are changing, the old ways are dying out, London is moving northwards along with its rich modern culture and turning places like Wells into second home seaside resorts. Even in the last few years once free car parks are now pay and display, they are turning natural places into a commercial rip-offs, turning marshes into neatly laid places to walk so you don’t get mud on your feet, is this posh London moving in or just councils ripping the life and soul out of adventures?

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