'; Robert Britton | Christmas cCHALLENGE
Retired but reasonably fit marine scientist
My challenge
One hour fast walk every day

Day 31:

The end of the month of challenge. Had quite a few things to do today so walk was local. The weather forecasters promised us some sunshine but we are still waiting. I will sign off by wishing everyone a happy, healthy and successful New Year

Day 30:

Another walk along The Great Ouse today, this time starting at the tiny village of Wiggenhall St Peter. The photo shows the ruined church in this village nestled well below the river level. Although there was no bright sunshine today there were some pleasant light patterns in the sky.

Day 29:

A pleasant walk today around the local area and taking in a quick diversion to our allotment. As the photo shows it looks a bit in need of some love and care but it is pretty well dormant at the moment. (except for sprouts and leeks)

Day 28:

Another walk today and another waterway. This is known as The Cut-Off Channel . It is entirely man made and runs for 45km along the east side of The Fens from Norfolk southwards through Suffolk and on into Essex. The most interesting thing about it is that the flow can be reversed. In times of wet ,the flow is northward into the Great Ouse and then the sea. In drier times the flow can be southward to provide water for Essex, the county with the lowest rainfall in the UK. As the reflections in the photo show, today there was no flow in either direction.

Day 27:

Still in holiday mode today so a two hour stroll rather than a one hour march. Very pleasant with family members through a nearby bird reserve. Photo shows mainly lapwing and avocets.

Day 26:

Boxing Day and quite foggy this morning. Went out early and walked for an hour and a half and home before 10am. Stayed on the lanes and only saw one other person who was a runner.

Day 25:

Christmas Day so family commitments. Did about 35 minutes walk after lunch. Count this as a semi success rather than a semi failure

Day 24:

Bit misty this morning but the rain we have been experiencing for several days has moved away. Straight forward walk across the Fens today. No one else about so just the birds for company.

Day 23:

Soggy Sunday so stayed on tarmac rather than muddy byways. A few miles from where I live is a huge paper mill that produces newsprint and other low grade paper entirely from recycled newspapers. It is quite common in the area to see large mounds of fine grained grey material as seen in todays photo. This is a by product of the paper mill: the residue left at the end of the process. I guess it consists largely of ink but I don’t know its chemical composition. Many of the local farmers use it as fertiliser

Day 22:

Went up to the Sandringham Estate today where the Royal Family traditionally spend the Christmas and New Year festivities. The Queen travelled up from London last Thursday on a scheduled train which is good. The cynic in me believes that younger members of the family still prefer the helicopter/chauffer driven limousine route. Anyway, Elizabeth did not pop out to invite me in for morning coffee so I had a walk around part of her estate. Too many dog walkers failing to control their hounds to make it a relaxed walk. The photo shows a glimpse of the church where the Royals gather on Christmas morning. Security does not allow a closer approach at the moment

Day 21:

For my winter solstice walk I went along another of the tributaries of the Great Ouse: the River Nar. I seriously misjudged the weather. We had a lot of rain overnight and into the morning but I thought I saw a window of opportunity with a clearance approaching. Unfortunately the clearance only lasted for about five minutes into the walk until the rain returned accompanied by strong winds. I lasted the full hour but was pretty bedraggled by the time I got back to base. Enough whinging! The photo shows the remains of a nineteenth century bone mill on the Nar. Diggings around the site shown conclusively that not just livestock bones were ground up. Traces of whale bones from the Kings Lynn whaling fleet and also human remains have been found.

Day 20:

I thought I would do a quick second photo from today. It is 20 December and yet I came across this apple tree covered in fruit. The apples were in excellent condition and tasted good. Shame to see them going to waste but I did pick a camera bag full!

Day 20:

Todays walk was along the River Wissey, a tributary of the Great Ouse. One of the main crops in this area is sugar beet and the photo shows the beet processing plant next to the river. As can be seen a great deal of steam is produced much of which goes into the atmosphere. Some, however is used to heat an extensive acreage of glasshouses a few of which may be seen on the left hand side of the photo. Until a couple of years ago the glasshouse crop was tomatoes but now they are one of the few sites in the UK with a licence to produce cannabis for medical use. The upside of this extensive industrial site is that it provides much employment. The downside is that it puts a considerable strain on the local rural road network. At the peak of the sugar beet harvesting season around 800 heavy lorries trundle their way to the plant every day.

Day 19:

Today I had a couple of things to attend to in and around the city of Ely and so I stayed in the area to do my walk. Part of the walk was along the river where it was pleasing to see quite a bit of boat activity even at this time of year including a couple of commercial barges. Then I cut up, what in this part of the world rates as a hill, to take in the cathedral grounds and take todays photo. My enthusiasm was slightly tempered by a sharp shower but managed to complete the hour.

Day 18:

The nearest town to where I live is Kings Lynn. My walk today followed a brief but necessary shopping expedition. I enjoyed walking around some of the old parts of town. As the photo shows there are  remaining narrow cobbled streets with old merchants houses leading down to the estuary. It is interesting and in the light of current Brexit chaos, perhaps ironic to note that the prosperity of Lynn as a port was due in large part to being a member of The Hanseatic League. This provided trading arrangements with mostly German merchants and was at its peak in the 1300s and 1400s. These days the area of old Lynn is sometimes used by film and TV companies, usually to depict Victorian conditions.  

Day 17:

The majority of my walks in the first part of the challenge have been in the morning but today by the time I was able to get out and about it was almost dark. I had hopes of a spectacular sunset but it was not to be.

I do realise that the challenge I selected to do is not one with a direct effect on the environment. It has however given me time to think and I have found myself being less wasteful and more conscious of unnecessary packaging. I guess one could say that any ripples have reflected back to me.

Day 16:

The second photo from todays walk shows one of two offshore mounds that were constructed some 70 years ago as part of an investigation into the viability of building a tidal barrage for electricity generation. Nothing came of that but a private company did put forward a scheme in a close by but different area. As far as I know that has not progressed beyond drawings. In the right place tidal energy is more reliable than either solar or wind energy as it is not dependent on external factors.  

Day 16:

The mouth of the River Nene is guarded by two lighthouses. Both are now private dwellings. The east bank one is shown in the photo and is of interest as being the home of Sir Peter Scott between 1933-1939. The son of Antarctic Scott was one of the first people to push the need for conservation and environmental protections.

Day 15:

A polite way of describing conditions for todays walk could be “bracing”. I can think of more colourful and vivid phrases. I was back on farm tracks today starting on the rather romantically named Gibbet Lane. I was rewarded by seeing several wild deer. They are not easy to photograph as by the time you have taken your gloves off and organised your camera they are disappearing into the distance at a great rate of knots. Just managed to get a couple of them as seen above. Sadly in this area it is not uncommon to see the result of collisions between deer and road traffic. I also saw a green woodpecker but he was certainly not hanging around to be photographed.

Day 14:

Had one of those days today when every thing seemed to take longer than it should have done. It would have been easier not to do the walk, so I am quite pleased with myself for completing the challenge. A couple of laps around the local area.

Day 13:

After an early start and a busy morning I decided that todays walk would be on the beach. As you can see this area has huge expanses of sand which at this time of year one can virtually guarantee  will not be crowded. The walk was quite challenging because there was a strong easterly wind which is a cold direction here. So I was looking forward to getting home and warming up only to discover a very cold dark house with no power. Power was restored in the early evening but it did serve to remind how we are so dependent on equipment and gadgets that all require electricity and recharging. My language whilst searching for torch and/or candles was probably not suitable for public consumption.

Day 12:

Walk was mostly through farmland today and came across the pictured scene. This is the harvesting of leeks. It is an interesting process in that it uses modern sophisticated machinery but is still very labour intensive. Most of the labour comes from overseas and what happens when we leave the EU remains to be seen.

Day 11:

It was a beautiful still sunny morning today so I am afraid there was no real challenge about getting out for my walk. I expect there will be other days of struggle to counteract it. I started from a nearby village with the rather grand name of “Wiggenhall St Mary Magdalen”. As the photo shows it has a pub and a ridiculously large church for such a small village. I guess it dates from the times when one of the criteria to judge the importance of the local landowner was the grandeur of the village church. 

Day 10:

My walk today was along farm tracks and lanes. Came across this sign which I have not seen before. Not sure who is stewarding what but as it was positioned in front of an area of pheasant cover I suspect that it is the environment of local shooters that is being stewarded. 

Day 9:

As the photo shows, today I did my walk between two waterways. On the right is the natural river that at this point is tidal. On the left is a manmade channel (known as The Relief Channel) That runs for several miles parallel to the river and is controlled by sluices at either end. This is all part of the water and flood control in this area. The land between the two waterways is known as the Ouse Washes and can be deliberately flooded to protect other areas. This is usually done in winter and sometimes if a cold snap ensues it becomes a mega ice rink. Very popular with local speed skaters. What I am trying to say is that because this area has a known vulnerability to flooding, alleviating measures have been taken. It is probable that in future much larger expanses will face the need for similar extensive and expensive schemes.

Day 8:

Should have said starlings

Day 8:

After yesterdays storm it is time for a communal bath for some local sparrows. I had company on todays walk which was very pleasant. I am enjoying this challenge but would probably enjoy it even more in summer!!


Day 7:

There was some competition on part of todays walk!!

Day 7:

Big storm this morning so did the sensible thing and waited for the clearance. Walked along part of the River Wissey. Muddy and slippery. As I think the photo shows this is one of the rivers in this part of Norfolk that rather than walk down into a valley to find it, you walk up an embankment above the surrounding farmland. Geography turned on its head!

Day 6:

Much of the land in this area is very low lying and indeed some is a metre or two below sea level. We are therefore extremely reliant on dykes and drainage channels such as the one in the picture taken on this mornings walk. Much of the area was drained by Dutch engineers in the 19th century. There are some people who say that should sea levels rise then we will just return to where we were 150 years ago. A long way from the truth. The marshes that were drained were fresh water. Future incursions will have a salinity of around 30 parts per thousand. A major change from current conditions.

Day 5:

Dramatic change in the weather from yesterday. Today it is cold, wet and windy. I now realise that my challenge may not be as easily accomplished as previously thought. I guess a challenge needs to be challenging!!! Anyway I did the full hour and hope for better conditions tomorrow

Day 4:

Lovely early morning walk today on a misty, sunny, frosty winters day along the banks of The Great Ouse in Norfolk. Confirmed with certainty my belief that the environment needs protecting.  

Day 3:

Got caught in a sharp and cold rain shower while walking along my local river bank. Helped to focus the mind on walking briskly and I stuck it out for 56 minutes.

Day 2:

Some sun on todays enjoyable walk. Plenty of bird song too. Ended up doing longer than my scheduled hour.

Day 1:

Got off to a good start. Pleasant walk and an opportunity to think