Modern Brancaster is a sleepy coastal village, albeit one with a vibrant sailing scene. This circular walk offers a rich and varied past for the heritage explorer to delve into. Why not finish the walk at one of the local pubs, which have a history all of their own?
'Shipwrecks and Salvage'
When the numerous ports of north-west Norfolk’s coast were still busy with trading ships, smuggling and piracy were also commonplace. Shipwrecks provided coastal communities with unexpected, and often irresistible, opportunities to obtain valuable goods.
In September 1833 such an opportunity arose at Brancaster. The packet ship Earl of Wemyss, en-route from London to Edinburgh, became stranded on a sandbank during a storm. The male passengers and crew got ashore and were accommodated at the Ship Hotel, but eleven passengers were left behind, the women and children told by the crew to stay in their cabin. As they waited for rescue though, the waves crashed in through an open skylight and tragically they all drowned.
The Brancaster Circular Walk passes the Ship Hotel and St. Mary’s Church. It continues toward the Royal West Norfolk Golf Club, built near the site of the old lifeboat house. Returning inland, it passes the round-towered church of St. Mary’s at Titchwell, and the medieval village cross. Titchwell chalk pit is also accessible from this trail. Once used as a dump, it has now been transformed into a mini nature reserve.