Out & About
Top 10 Secret Beaches – Norfolk
www.visitnorfolk.co.uk tells us the best secret beaches off the beaten track
Norfolk has some Premier League beaches, including Great Yarmouth, Gorleston, Hunstanton and Cromer. Oh yes, and the beach voted by readers of BBC Countryfile magazine as the best in Britain at Holkham, right next to Wells-next-the-Sea with its 200 higgledy-piggledy multi-coloured beach huts.
But there are others where you can escape the crowds and you might just feel that you’re Robinson Crusoe on your own desert island. So here’s out top secret beaches in Norfolk. But ssssh… don’t tell anyone!
Situated between the busier beaches of Hemsby and Caister, Scratby is an altogether quieter proposition, ideal for fishing and swimming. Dogs are allowed year-round too, so it’s a great place to stretch your legs with your four-legged pals.
Not so much for its beach but because of what it stands for. This is Deep History Coast, where the earliest evidence of man in the UK has been found, a family of four people from 850,000 years ago. And, would you believe it, scientists think they were rockpooling. This was in the days when this was the last stretch of land connected to the Continent.
Just north of Great Yarmouth, Caister-on-Sea is the quieter younger sibling who keeps themselves to themselves, but what a fabulous, unspoilt beach.
There are a number of services and amenities, but Caister has more than enough sand space to go round.
The name Eccles comes from the Latin ecclesia meaning church so it’s likely this was an early British Christian site. There’s no longer a church here, just a small community of pre-second world war bungalows called the Bush Estate (an early holiday retreat), but it’s unlikely you’ll encounter many people.
Situated in a National Nature Reserve between Titchwell and Old Hunstanton this is where Seahenge, a 4000 year old Bronze Age timber circle, was discovered in 1998. It was removed for conservation reasons (see a replica in King’s Lynn Museum) so few people now come to this delightful stretch of sand.
Don’t stick to the main beach, where the car park and amusements are, but head north towards Eccles-on-Sea for the seclusion.
The laying of stone reefs off the shore to protect from coastal erosion has meant this sandy stretch has developed into a unique bay-like beach, with shallow water and few waves, making it perfect for toddlers.
Scolt Head Island
Now, this really IS a desert island! Only accessible at low tide and a lot of mud (unless you have a boat) Scolt Head National Nature Reserve has a beach of pure white sand backed by marram-tufted dunes. Walk to it from Burnham Overy Staithe. More people have seen Brigadoon than this beach!
Burnham Overy Staithe
If you don’t cross the mud for Scolt, stay on the coast path and you’ll come across a huge expanse of unspoilt sand that sits just to the north of Holkham. If you park on the quay be warned – many people have come back from the long walk to find their car submerged by the rising tide!
Great Yarmouth – North
Go a little way north of the amusements and attractions of Great Yarmouth and you’ll discover a huge stretch of marram-grassed beach that’s perfect for finding a little sheltered hollow to have a picnic or sleep. And, if you’re feeling energetic, you’ll know that the action’s just a few minutes’ walk away.
Backed by vertiginous cliffs, few people know there’s a great beach below and yet it’s just a mile away from the hustle and bustle of Cromer. In fact, there’s a cliff-top path from Cromer you can take if you fancy stretching your legs too.
Horsey with its seals and Winterton with its fab café attract more visitors, but nearby Waxham, like them backed by grassy dunes, has its fans too including the Daily Telegraph, which voted it one of Britain’s 40 best beaches. There’s a nice café in a converted 16th century barn too.
Yes, you can go away on holiday and tell your friends you’ve been to California. Just not the one on the Pacific Coast of the United States. So if you think you might see Baywatch’s Pamela Anderson bounding through the surf to help save a struggling swimmer, think again. That said, it’s got lovely fine sand… perfect for building sand castles.