LOW KELLING AND SALTHOUSE

View towards Kelling

These little villages within the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty lie adjacent to each other between Weyborne and Cley. You come into Low Kelling along the coast road, but you would never guess that this is a coastal parish. The village lies in dip in the road, and there is no vehicular access to the beach; you must take a fairly long walk of about a mile to reach the sea. The best way to get your feet wet at Kelling is to tramp along the tide line from Weyborne, where there is at least a car park by the sea. It is a small settlement of less than two hundred souls, but it retains its Victorian village Primary School; the number of pupils actually living in Low Kelling must be tiny, but it gathers other children from the surrounding area to make about a hundred students. There is also a medieval church, and tearoom-cum-bookshop in the former reading room. For a small community it is well supplied with facilities. Away from the main road it is all very peaceful at Low Kelling, although nowadays you will always have a wind farm or two on the horizon to interrupt the tranquility of the scene. High Kelling by contrast takes you to the borders of Holt, and in the past century it has almost become a dormitory development of that town. The village centre of Low Kelling is three miles from Holt town centre.

Continuing to the west you pass the heath on the inland side; this has not been maintained and is now covered with birch trees and scrub. Beyond the undulating country of Kelling you descend to what were once the saltmarshes of Salthouse.   The building of a sea wall has made the waters alongside the Coast Road fresh, and ducks swim happily about waiting for tourists to feed them. When the sea breaks through, as happens during tidal surges, the salt waters return. This happened a few years ago but on the most recent occasion the wind dropped at the last moment and a breach was averted. It is a slow process to bring the nature reserve back to health, and with the sea so near it is not easy to maintain it.

The houses of Salthouse village are to the left; they are all made in the local building material of beach pebbles. Unlike at Kelling, there is a road to the beach that leads to a car park near the sea.  You may buy fish and chips from a mobile shop on the verge in the summer months. In 2014 an American helicopter from RAF Lakenheath crashed on Salthouse beach, with loss of all four lives on board. The area was used to practise low-level flying, but with a nature reserve adjacent it was only a matter of time before a fatal bird strike occurred.

this The Dun Cow in Salthouse is a popular eatery today; this watercolour of the pub was painted forty years ago or more, and there are now a lot of outdoor tables on the lawn that stretches to the pub sign on the main road. The old black painted wooden shed that obscured the seaward end of the pub has been demolished, but it has been replaced by a bus shelter and this also spoils the view of the pub.

There is fine late medieval church dedicated to St Nicholas on the rising ground above the village. There is much pre-Reformation painting on the rood screen, and neglect has preserved the structure and decorations from Victorian Revival restoration.

These are two very different villages along the North Norfolk coast, where cliffs give way to mudflats. The sound of terns as they guard their eggs makes this a special area.

JOSEPH MASON

 joemasonspage@gmail.com

THE BLOG FOR THE STORY OF NORFOLK

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