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Hollywood was here


You've seen the film - now explore the location. Alf Alderson goes the extra mile

Shakespeare In Love

I came to Holkham Bay to follow in the long vanished footsteps of Gwyneth Paltrow, Viola in the film Shakespeare In Love. As the credits roll at the movie's end, Paltrow strides across Holkham's yellow sand, cast as Twelfth Night's Illyria.

Backed by low dunes and dark green conifer woods, Holkham Bay was bathed in winter sun and playing host to kites, kids, walkers and dogs. However, so huge is the bay that even in summer it is seldom crowded.

I sauntered past the broad sandy inlet of Holkham Gap, and continued along the coast. The further I went, the fewer people there were, and as the tide fell there was the feeling of being a tiny speck in a universe consisting of little more than sand, sea and sky. The sand is firm underfoot; you can splash through the shallows, and every now and again a small piece of flint or an unusual shell or pebble will catch your attention and maybe end up in your pocket.

Another good walk is around Burnham Deepdale, six miles west of Wells-Next-The-Sea, where you can enjoy some of Norfolk's high country. Since most of Norfolk is only a few metres above sea level, the 60m hills above the village pass for "uplands".

A round trip of about three miles takes you up through quiet fields, hedgerows and woods to superb viewpoints at Barrow Common and Downs Woods. From here, you can see miles of shoreline. Villages and hamlets with names as English as warm beer straddle either side of the A149 as it runs along the coast - Titchwell, Brancaster Staithe, Burnham Deepdale, Burnham Overy Staithe - all of which lie before the mudflats, saltmarshes, sandbanks and the beach.

If you're more energetic, this whole stretch of coastline can be explored via the 47-mile Norfolk Coast Path, which runs from Hunstanton to Cromer.

Film buffs will find another point of interest down the coast. Fields by Burnham Deepdale stood in for Korea during the filming of the last James Bond movie, Die Another Day.

Deepdale Stables Backpackers Hostel (01485 210256, deepdalefarm.co.uk). Dorms from 10.50 per night; twins, triples, quads and tipis also available. In Burnham Deepdale, the Jolly Sailors (01485 210314) offers good pub food in a cosy atmosphere; the restaurant at the White Horse (01485 210262) overlooks the coast and is great for sunset dining.

The Guardian - Journalist: Alf Alderson
29/01/2005