Point Break: stranded on a spit

09:58 02 July 2012

100th anniversary of the National Trust buying Blakeney Point and turning it into Norfolk

100th anniversary of the National Trust buying Blakeney Point and turning it into Norfolk's first nature reserve. The seals resting on the beach. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY


It’s not quite the life of Robinson Crusoe or a second century Middle Eastern hermit, but journalist STEVE DOWNES is getting away from it all this week - by moving in with the residential wardens on Blakeney Point. The week as a “writer-in-residence” on the National Trust-owned treasure will include moth trapping, bat detecting, ragwort clearing, seal counting - and cleaning the public toilets.

I confess the title “writer-in-residence” rather appealed to me.

I had images of donning a cravat and sitting in the corner of a Parisian café, drinking absinthe and dramatically placing the back of my hand on my forehead before swooning at regular intervals.

Oh, and occasionally writing something hugely pretentious to provoke my fellow writers to gush and call me “dahh-ling”.

The reality of a week on Blakeney Point will, thankfully, be quite different. I’ll be a ranger – complete with a branded National Trust T-shirt to make me feel part of the team.

And I’ll be getting my delicate writer hands dirty, mucking in with the work that keeps this treasure polished and presentable for thousands of visitors.

That includes a butterfly transect, which I trust does not involve cutting the lovely insects in half, nest counting and acting as a gap lookout.

I’m also going to be meeting the good folk from the BBC’s Countryfile, as they do a recce for a future broadcast. As they know what they’re talking about, it’ll test my bluffing skills to the limit.

The stay will be a baptism of fire, though. For at the moment, I can’t tell the difference between a little tern and a sandwich tern, or between common and grey seals.

My plant expertise stretches to identifying daisies and grass. At a push, I can recognise a hyacinth – but I’m not expecting that to come in useful on Blakeney Point.

So be sure to follow my adventures, as the unsuspecting wardens try to educate this outdoors ignoramus.

● For daily dispatches, see the EDP every day this week.

● For regular updates and photos, follow @stevedownes1973 on Twitter.

● Read the Norfolk coast National Trust blog by visiting


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