Sand, Sea, Cliffs and Shells

Cromer from Great Yarmouth is a mere 30 miles, as the crow flies, yet the terrain couldn’t be more different. While Gt Yarmouth tucks itself tight on a sandbank at the mouth of the one-time Great Estuary, all flatness, wide vistas and skies, Cromer balances precariously upon a rapidly eroding cliff.

Think I exaggerate?

tumbled down house

A tumbled down house at nearby Overstrand

And whence it fell

And whence it tumbled

Oops!

Those cliffs are the seaward edge of the North Norfolk Ridge, a terminal moraine deposited by a retreating glacier. They form the highest part of Norfolk—the exact point being just north of Cromer, between East Runton and Felbrigg.

Bridge to Felbrigg

This bridge carries a rail-line across a steep valley. In its turn, the valley carries the road out to Felbrigg

But back to cliffs. The schools regularly run trips out to this coast. Not only for the potential of finding fossils (the earliest human remains ever found in Britain came from this coast) but as a great place to study the geology.

Bedrock at Overstrand

Flints embedded in chalk form the bedrock of East Anglia . . . here exposed at Overstrand.

So, having arrived at Cromer on the Saturday my feet were itching to walk the cliffs . . . early Sunday morning. We headed out south, to Mundesley.

Cromer Cliffs

Looking back towards Cromer. Not exactly the only photo I took of the cliffs that morning. But I don’t want to bore you with my holiday shots!

Cromer lighthouse

Cromer Lighthouse . . . as close as I could get. Those bushes are gorse, as prickly as thistles, more unforgiving than blackthorn

And so we arrived in Mundesley . . . with the tide going out. Time to go hunt shells (something else abundant along the North Norfolk coast but generally lacking around Great Yarmouth).

Encrusted groyne at Mundesley

Momma’ limpet and her off-spring grip tight to this sea-groyne, amidst an encrustation of barnacles.

Limpet and Bladderwrack

And here a health-conscious limpet seeks the shade offered by the neighbouring bladderwrack

But more than its tenacious encrustations, Mundesley is famed for its beach huts in their colourful arrays.

Beach huts at Mundesley

I liked the layer look of this. And, no, I didn’t decapitate the crow (at least not intentionally) but it would insist upon posing.

Although the beaches to either side of Cromer’s have shells aplenty, until a recent storm brought down more of Cromer’s cliff, Cromer’s beach had none. Now, though, it has incipient rock pools.

Sea anemones at Cromer

I caught these two sea anemones still open, with the tide not yet fully withdrawn from their small pool. I have no doubt they’ve been seeded from nearby Sheringham.

Talking of Cromer . . . well I did have to pass through it most days on my way out to elsewhere, so of course I took plenty of pics.

High tide at Cromer

Early morning, the tide now on the ebb. But you can see where it’s been

Cromer pier

An iconic image of Cromer pier

Iconic Cromer Prom

. . . and of the promenade. Brave, those who live there, with the sea breaking over.

Hotel at the end of the pier

. . . and the Hotel de Paris, aka the hotel at the end of the pier

Cromer street

Another iconic image of Cromer: these oriel-type jetted windows seem to be everywhere.

And Cromer wouldn’t be Cromer without its crabs and fishing boats . . .

Boats at Cromer

Though I took loads of photos of the boats, I’ve chosen this one as representative (including, as it does, the pier and a crabbing pot)

Ironic, despite I live in a gull colony, and GY market place is alive with the birds every summer, it took this holiday round the coast at Cromer for me to actually capture some gulls on camera . . .

Immature gulls

It’s not only our kids who enjoy paddling on this wonderfully flat beach. All these gulls are immature (i.e. less than 2 years old)

Battling Gulls

And just like our children, the gulls are renowned for their squabbling, though usually it’s over food, not a perch

But not all our time was spent in Cromer. In fact, very little was. The reason my daughter and I booked accommodation here was to be closer to walks we wouldn’t normally be able to do from Yarmouth. Several days were spent inland. And we bused to Wells, westward along the coast. Our interest there was primarily the Iron-age camp at Warham but we completed the day by walking back to Wells along the coast path.

Wells sits almost at the end of the North Norfolk Ridge. Though it used to be an active port (even I remember seeing small ships pulling in there), for some time now it has been suffering the opposite from Cromer in coastal reshaping. Accretion. These days an extensive saltmarsh lies between harbour and sea—not the most exciting environment for a landscape photographer. Call it ‘challenging’.

Saltmarsh at Wells

I imagine this was how the Yarmouth marshes once looked . . . long, long ago. Here we’re approaching Wells

Fishing boats at Wells

And the more boats involved, the more interesting the scene. The sea is somewhere beyond that dark green horizon (pine trees planted by the Holkham estate)

Wells harbour

Wells harbour, looking seaward. It is there, I promise, but it’s a goodly walk. Then when the tide goes out it leaves a deep beach peppered with cockles, winkles and whelks.

I took mega-more photos than this. but I’m leaving them to another day. Some are architectural studies, both vernacular and stately; some of fungi, others of ducks; some are of rivers, some (as said above) of an Iron-Age fort once defended by the Iceni. I guess there’s enough to last me through the winter—by then I might have a decent camera instead of relying on the 5mp camera on my (old) phone.

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About crimsonprose

After years as a multi-colour octopus in entertainment, now chilling and writing
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14 Responses to Sand, Sea, Cliffs and Shells

  1. Brian Bixby says:

    So I followed along with Google maps. Good opening picture, guaranteed to startle, and I like the colorful look of Cromer.

    • crimsonprose says:

      A very small selection of the photos I took. It was difficult to decide which ones to use. So I went for the ones which really do encapsulate that stretch of coast. Cromer, as a resort, is unique. It’s also where my father preferred to take us as kids, rather than the bustle of Gt Yarmouth (yes, before the advent of cheap package ‘del Sol’ holidays, GY used to heave with bodies every summer.) But those photos I emailed you (of me as child)? The ‘bathing queen’ one was taken at Cromer.

  2. grdtobin says:

    My bushwalking group once had the dubious pleasure of climbing a cliff with only gorse to hold onto.

    • crimsonprose says:

      Ouch! Though I don’t fancy anyone’s chances of climbing the cliffs around Cromer. They’re not solid rock but compacted sand. Further along, beyond Overstrand, they’re more in way of solid, as can be seen by that exposed uptilt with its bands of flint nodules.

      • grdtobin says:

        Compacted sand is not so bad. On another walk, it was midsummer in Victoria (in Australia, not Canada), so 40 C in the shade, except that we were roasting in direct sunlight.

        After a few hours, several members of the party were suffering from the heat, so we had to find a way out of a deep valley, but the only route was up a cliff of loose, pitch-black sand.

        Many of our walks were fun like that. I forgot to mention that on the gorse-cliff walk, the reason for our climb was that the tide was coming in and the beach was inundated. We rock-hopped over the waves until the sea got too deep, and ascent was our only means of escape.

      • crimsonprose says:

        And my hiking disasters tend to be no worse than a track fading out leaving us stranded in some farmer’s field. Though the most memorable time was when the trail dead-ended in a swampy glade on top of a hill. It was the unexpectedness of it. Swamps belong down in the valleys. But apparently not in Somerset, Wiltshire and Hampshire. There, due to glacial deposits, the hills tend to be coated with some depth of clay (hence the swamp). Other than that, we’ve sweated our way through overgrown tracks knowing full-well here adders abound. And I do not like snakes! Gorse, thistles, brambles, thorn-trees, nasty biting flies . . . why do we do it? But at least we don’t have the temperatures that you do. I have low blood-pressure these days. Heat reduces it further. Exposure above 27 degrees for more than a half-hour and I simply faint. Oops!

      • grdtobin says:

        Victoria is infamous for large, poisonous snakes: brown snakes, tiger snakes, red-bellied black snakes, and many others.

        Spiders: funnelwebs and redbacks. All the arthropods move much faster in warm weather; we have large populations of bull-ants, centipedes, sandflies, cockroaches, termites, and even the occasional scorpion though I live far from the desert.

        The Scots brought us thistles and the English settlers bequeathed us blackberries which thrive in our climate and ran rampant over river banks. We used to have an exotic tree in our garden with antler thorns over a foot long and reputedly poisonous.

      • crimsonprose says:

        All of which is the reason i remain in England. A pleasant, mostly non-poisonous, land. And you forgot to say that we English bequeathed you the gorse bushes too.

  3. Joy Pixley says:

    Great photos! Thanks for the morning break, I feel like I’ve taken a little holiday now. I especially liked the one of the cliffs and water (Looking back toward Cromer…). I know what you mean about taking a million pictures and only posting a few; I’m the same way. These days with digital cameras/phones I feel like I should always get “the best” shot. Ah, well. The Iron-age fort sounds interesting — are you going to include that in another post?

    • crimsonprose says:

      Glad you enjoyed. Yea, I do intend to post the photos of Warham camp, along with a short history of Iron-Age tribes of the area. Most famous, of course, for Queen Boudica who led her people on a bloody rampage against the Romans in CE 60. .

      • Joy Pixley says:

        Oo, sounds great!

      • crimsonprose says:

        Except the fort pre-dates Boudica by about 200 years! It’s even earlier than all those marvelous gold torcs found kinda close nearby. But the total package ought to make for a readable post.

      • Joy Pixley says:

        I’ll keep my eye out. Sorry I haven’t been stopping by much lately. I’ve been so busy that I’m having to skip reading so many posts from so many of my blogfriends. Now I’m trying to get at least one here and there, just to not fall completely out of touch.

      • crimsonprose says:

        I know exactly what you mean. I have the same problem. I try to set a day aside particularly for that but it’s never enough.

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