Norfolk has a reputation for being flat as a wall, which, coming from Cromer, I’ve always found hard to relate to. Okay, it’s not the Lake District, but it does have its ups and downs. The aptly named Beeston Bump, to the west of Cromer is a prime example and the lighthouse hills attracts children from all over whenever there is a day off school for snow. Cromer’s cliffs are impressive, at around 80 meters high in places, but it is a little known, and today, a very little used spot that I would like to introduce you to here.
Standing at the lighthouse and looking out to see, Happy Valley stretches in front of you, with it bracken and recent winter addition of Badgot Goats, looking west you will see the playing field with swings and zipwire and beyond that Warren Woods. Warren Woods is the stage for many adventure for children big and small and has everything ancient woods should have. Brilliant trees to climb, winding paths to get lost in, dense undergrowth to make dens in and precarious, homemade swings to test your courage and common sense on. What’s more, if you explore Warren Woods in depth, you will find the Snake Pit, once home to a small café, of which the remains can still be found, once colonized by local lads as a BMX track, and always home of those with great imaginations.
The hill from the Snake Pit up to Sugarloaf is virtually impossible to climb, unless you are about 12, don’t mind getting absolutely filthy, quite happy to put your life in your own hands, enjoy swinging from tree to tree from the Sycamore saplings and are generally indestructible. There are other routes to the top, but finding them feels like trekking through the Amazon. There are steps from the East, but locating them is better left to luck than judgement. The best way to get to the top is from the South. In spring, there is a carpet of Bluebells. In summer, it’s a few seconds to scramble to the top, find one of the two tiny paths, cut your way through the undergrowth and you have reached your destination.
Two years ago, the view from the top was stunning, with the Pier pointing out to the vastness of the sea and the crab boats coming and going. Now, however, the Sycamores have put pay to that. If one were to stand on the bench you can make out the sea, if you were seven feet tall and stood on the arm of the bench, you could see the pier. Obviously, the view isn’t the reason to be there now, the reason to be there is that nobody else is. You can only get about four people on the top of the hill and it is tranquility itself, it’s a bit like the whole world has forgotten this place exists.
Of course, we are lucky at The Grove to have these woods on our doorstep and be able to have private access to them from our gardens. They have always felt like a shared extension of The Grove to us and it is also nice to have little reminder on your doorstep that Norfolk’s reputation for being flat isn’t quite accurate.