One of the best times to nip up to the top of Sugar Loaf Hill in Warren Woods, which gives a great view of Cromer town, the pier, the sea and it the distance Beeston Bump, is first thing in the morning. However, there is always a huge conflict of interests as this is also a very good time to stay in bed and not nip anywhere. A much less controversial time of day to take in the very same view is about 20 minutes before the sun sets. The sky will be at its most colourful, the sea calm as if it’s just finished a hard day’s work and the majority of people will be on their way home or nearly on their way out, but they will certainly not be up Sugar Loaf Hill.
Taking in the scenery at this time of day allows you enough time to nip down the steps leading to Happy Valley and then along the cliff top past the old coast guard station, and the Snake Pit in Warren Woods (which back onto The Grove gardens) on your left before sauntering down to Doctor’s Steps (which incidentally don’t have any steps – just slopes) and along the promenade to the pier. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Leaving the top of Sugar Loaf Hill, the steps are windy, uneven and less than uniform. They have a remarkable knack of always looking like they have just been discovered and nobody has set foot on them for years. The slope down the playing field with Happy Valley beyond is inviting, but if you take this and turn right not left, you will be taking your eye of the prize. Turning left, you come out on the cliff top, and head left again towards Cromer. The woods on your left are all greens and browns and are the sort of place that children can play for hours. Speaking from experience, there are a number of fantastic climbing trees here for children of all ages. In the heart of the woods is The Snake Pit, where there are the remains of an old café or house – no snakes, though.
Leaving the woods behind, as you continue into Cromer, you get much more of a sight of the beach itself. When the tide is in, it is pretty; when the tide is out, it is magnificent. This week, if you looked in one direction, you would see two young girls dressed in long white shirts hanging around at the water’s edge; no doubt in deep discussion about something that could only really be talked about properly in such a setting. In the other direction, a father was showing his young family how to fly a kite, with varying degrees of success. There was one other couple, walking a dog. That was it.
At the bottom of this slope, and after negotiating the Doctor’s Steps, Cromer’s crab fleet was pulled up to the promenade. At a count, there were 16 boats in total, which is more than usual. Then, at the foot of The Gangway, is the lifeboat museum, and the inshore lifeboat house – where heroes are made. Further on from that, our destination, Cromer’s most famous landmark looms and people gather for the main event.
Cromer is very lucky to boast sunsets and sunrises over the sea. Watching them from the pier is simply a must. There are sunsets and there are sunsets, and a sunset from Cromer’s pier definitely comes into the latter category, especially if you have a conflict of interests where the sunrise is concerned.