A great storm had passed over Norfolk the night before, heavy rain lashing against the windows of the little cottage in Erpingham. But the rain vanished with the darkness, and the day began cloudy but dry.
We set out from Cromer to walk the Norfolk Coast Path to Overstrand. As we left the town behind a steep flight of steps led down to the beach, an area of the North Sea known for some reason as Foulness. The coast path here joins with a section of the Paston Way and runs along the sand. I suspect at very high tides it is impassable and you’d need to follow the cliff-top alternative.
The last vigour of the night’s storm had saved itself for the sea. The waves were crashing white down on to the strand, leaving a narrow passage for walkers. The cliffs on the other side were of a very soft sand and seems to be continually crumbling.
Great mounds had come down on to the beach itself, bringing down yet more flints to join the great band of similar rocks along the line of our walk. Every piece of flint slightly different, many of them holed all the way through.
The first part of this beach walk was over rock and flint, becoming sandier as we neared Overstrand. Here, below the cliffs were the first hints of the growth of marram grass and deeper piles of sand – the birth of what one day might be substantial dunes.
The sea might be eating away some portions of the Norfolk coast, but nature is compensating by lining up increases elsewhere.
As we arrived at the concrete promenade below Overstrand the waves were crashing against this man-made defence – at one point giving me a good soaking.
By now the storm was dying away and both sea and sky were turning a deep blue. As we climbed the hill to Overstrand the temperature increased. A fine day, still autumnal in some aspects of its character, but with much of summer about it.
Overstrand is a village of remarkable architecture, rather like the setting of an Agatha Christie mystery. Winston Churchill stayed here as a boy and again as an adult. The heart of the village can have changed little since his days.
The footpath back to Cromer, the alternative coast path and Paston Way, runs along the top of the cliffs. Interesting to see the tops as we had seen the foot of them. It runs across stretches of heathland, with the links of the Royal Cromer Golf Club to one side for much of the distance.
Interestingly, although the map declares this to be a public right of way, periodic signs inform the rambler that it is permissive only. Perhaps some Norfolk rambler could give a definitive answer as to whether or not it IS a public footpath? I appreciate that some of the original line of the path has eroded with the tumbling of the cliffs, but surely not all of it?
Whatever, it is a fine stretch of coast, a very beautiful landscape with good views down to the beach and towards Cromer Pier. The lighthouse was still flashing as we walked by, despite it now being the middle of the day.
By now there were more ramblers about. During our beach stroll we had seen very few walkers, and then mostly locals with their dogs. But Cromer was quite busy as we entered the town.
This was such very different scenery from our recent walk from Brancaster. Norfolk offers a great deal of variety in its coastal scenery.