Take me to the beach

Norfolk is very lucky. (I seem to have started a lot of blogs like this.)

Travelling down the coast from Sunny Hunny, where kiss-me-quick hats are only just a thing of the past to Yarmouth, where kiss-me-quick hats haven’t quite reached yet, there is huge variety and diversity. There are, and of course you know about, the seemingly endless sands of Holkham and Wells-Next-The-Sea, where on a summer’s day, crowds flock to enjoy the peace and tranquillity. Then there are the birder’s paradises; the marshes of Blakeney, Salthouse and Cley-Next-The-Sea with their miles of flood-bank walks and huge skys. Moving east, you hit Sheringham, the characterful splendid Victorian town with its shingle beach, closely followed by Cromer. In terms of well-known beaches, that’s about it until you reach Yarmouth.

The stretch from Cromer to Yarmouth is less well-known, partially because it is less accessible, but no less worth visiting. Below are a few of my personal highlights. I’ve included East and West Runton as an added extra.

The Runtons. East and West Runton are villages sandwiched between Sheringham and Cromer. The beaches are secluded, with a mix of shingle and sand. They offer the best surf in the area, and apart from a lone beach café, you have to make your own entertainment, which let’s face it, doesn’t take much imagination on a beautiful beach. The Runtons joined Cromer and Sheringham in getting blue flags, this year.

Cromer’s East beach to Mundesley. You have to keep your eyes peeled to find entrances to the beaches of Overstrand, Sidestrand and Trimmingham, but if you can find them, they are well worth a visit, especially, if you fancy a bit of time away from the crowds. Think sand, think cliffs, think famous five go adventuring. Mundesley is the metropolis of this coast, it has a fish and chip shop and you may even be able to buy a bucket and spade if you have forgotten one.

Moving south, if you want to visit the narrow, near-deserted, yet beautiful beaches of Walcott, Happisburgh and Cart Gap, you’d better get a wriggle on. Beach combers love these beaches, partially because whole houses have fallen onto the beach as the cliffs crumble and are washed away. Tractors still plough and harvest fields just feet from the edge of the low cliffs, knowing that they will not be there for much longer.

Further still is Eccles-on-Sea and Sea-Palling and Waxham. Sea Palling stands out as a pretty little village, which also has a blue flag. The off-shore rock reefs, here, have created fantastically sandy bays ideal for lazing around and very good for sand castle construction. Further on, there is Winterton-on-Sea’s very sandy beach. Here, seals and sand dunes combine to form a large nature reserve.

Closer to home, we are luckier still. Taking the kids on a summer holiday has a few pre-requisites. Being within easy reach of a beach is one of them; being within walking distance of a beach is even better. When you find somewhere that you can walk through quiet woods to a beach in five minutes, without going anywhere near a road, you know you have struck gold.