How busy is the Norfolk coast as lockdown eases?
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
On the first day of groups of six being able to meet up and the end of the stay at home message in England, parts of north Norfolk remained quiet.
In Wells-next-the-Sea the sun shone down on the town and its harbour but there was a strong breeze this morning.
On the harbour, Amy and Oliver Meaton from King’s Lynn and their children Isabella and Jenson were enjoying their first day out in weeks.
Mrs Jenson, a healthcare assistant at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, said they had been planning the day since the roadmap out of lockdown was announced.
She said: “We’ve planned this for months, we let the children decide what they wanted to do when everything starts to open. It’s been in the diary since [Boris Johnson] announced it.
“We’re crabbing, then going to the beach, we’ve bought some spare clothes if the kids want to paddle.”
The couple said they were surprised by how few people were in Wells but expected it to get busier as the day wore on.
Mrs Meaton said: “We plan on just slowly going back to normal within the rules for the kids.”
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The family said they planned to have a barbecue in the garden with another household later in the week.
Also on the harbour, bikers Alison Aldrich and her neighbour Dale Robertson were enjoying a pit-stop midway through a circular route through North Norfolk from Wymondham.
The pair said it was their first time out on their motorbikes in a while.
Ms Aldrich said: “I bought a new bike in December and it hasn’t even had its running service yet."
While glad to be out and about she was surprised the government had taken the decision to ease restrictions during the Easter holidays.
Mr Robertson said the roads had been quiet on the way up to the coast.
“I was thinking we might not get into the bike parking area but there were no other bikes,” he said.
Matt Jarvis, the owner of Wells Deli, said there were a few more people out and about than in previous days.
He said: “I think people are becoming more relaxed. We have seen a few more people walking around today than at the weekend, everybody is in good spirits to be getting back to some sort of normality.”
He said he thought it was important to recognise the steps people had taken to keep safe, including businesses like his and hoped the end of the stay at home message wouldn’t encourage people to travel too far.
Mr Jarvis said: “I hope the Londoners won’t pour up to the coast. You need to have common sense and travelling 300 miles to go away for the weekend is the wrong thing to do.”
In Sheringham, the wind was less strong allowing people to take in the sea views and enjoy the sunshine.
On the beach Emma Durand, a careers advisor from Aylsham and Alison O’Malley a swimming teacher from Briston were catching up after months of not being able to see each other in person.
Ms Durand said: “[This] is the first time I’ve seen the sea in many months.”
The pair said once they saw the weather was meant to be good they arranged to meet up.
Ms O’Malley said: “I live in Briston and we’ve not been able to see each other in months, we have been for a walk and a coffee. We’ve known each other for five years and it is the longest time we’ve not seen each other.”
While there were people milling around the high street, Tracey Bailey, the owner of Pungleperrys said it was not as busy as she thought it would be.
She said: “I think we were busier on Thursday and Friday. I was expecting it to be busier, I don’t know where all the people are.
“I would say it’s disappointing but probably not disappointing in the sense of people doing the right thing.”
Ms Bailey said she thought the combination of good weather and the Easter Holidays might encourage people out later in the week.
“I would say through the whole lockdown Sheringham has been quiet whereas Cromer has been busier.”
Further along the coast in Cromer, the town was the busiest it had been in a while with the breeze not putting people off from enjoying a stroll on the pier and some fish and chips.
Justin Simmons, assistant manager of Mary Janes fish and chip shop said Monday had been the business’ busiest day in weeks with lots of day trippers.
He said: “It’s been pretty busy. I reckon it’ll pick up from here.”
Chloe Walsh, whose family run The Crazy Cow ice cream shop, echoed Mr Simmon’s optimism and said the business had also “taken quite a lot” and she was looking forward to the summer.
Richard Leeds, the town mayor said it was nice to see people enjoying the sunshine although it was not the first time the town had been busy.
He said: “To be honest the weekends have been very busy and unfortunately are all those people local? - that’s the problem.
“I appreciate people want to get out and about and see things but people have always been told to be local.
“This is the first day, people are still at work, there’s a few more people around, people enjoying themselves on the beach.”
Despite concerns about whether people were staying local Mr Leeds said he was looking forward to the summer.
“We survived last summer. It’s nice to see a few more business open up, now we just need to wait until April 12, when everything can open.
“It’s nice to see the town waking up again, it’s been a long time.”
On the seafront Geoff and Fiona along with there dog Alfie had walked to Cromer from Overstrand where they live.
The pair said they had no tied more people about.
They said: “We’re definitely aware it’s a lot more open, more people around. The roads have been busier for a few days.”
And on the pier, Emma Simpson and her son Avery Smith from Wymondham were enjoying a day out.
Ms Simpson said: “Today is the first time we’ve been this far [from home]. It’s nice, my son just likes running into the sea.
“It’s less busy than we thought it would be, I reckon it’ll pick up from here.”
In Blakeney, the wind kept many people away and the harbour car park was all but deserted.