Friday, 26 August 2011

BURNHAM OVERY STAITHE

This part of Norfolk is home to a cluster of Burnhams. We have already touched upon Burham Thorpe, birthplace of Horatio Nelson, but there are several more including the swanky Burnham Market a short way inland and, on the coast, the intriguingly named Burnham Overy Staithe (the word 'staithe' means 'landing place' or 'platform of timber'. Nelson cut his nautical teeth here, learning to row and sail a dinghy two years before joining the Navy, which he did at the tender age of twelve. Another seafaring person of note associated with the village was Richard Woodget, Captain of the famous Cutty Sark, who lived there towards the end of his life. Burnham was a port serving the local area from around 1400 when the first wooden quays were built until the arrival of the railways in the 1800s. There is a lane in the village called Gong Lane, so named because a gong was sounded at the top of this lane to signal the arrival of a ship. The port also serviced trade with other countries across the North Sea, with Dutch and French among the languages to be heard on the quayside. Now there are salt marshes and channels between the village and the open sea which are only navigable by small vessels. When the tide is right there is a ferry available for visits to the nature reserve on Scolt Head Island where birds and seals can be observed as well as botanical specimens such as matted sea lavender. There are significant numbers of breeding terns here as well as wintering wildfowl and waders such as shelduck, wigeon, teal and curlew. There is a nice webcam showing current (though not streaming) images of one of the channels at Burnham Overy Staithe dotted with an assortment of little boats.

Map of the area.

'Burnham Overy Staithe, Norfolk' photo (c) 2007, Martin P - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

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