Stage 7. Sheringham to Overstrand to Mundesley

Today I am walking alone. My husband is bored with my 2 mile an hour pace and has decided to do some cycling instead. My first problem this morning becomes apparent as I change into my walking shoes. We have driven into Sheringham and I discover I have left my walking socks at home. We pop into a nearby shop and I buy the best cotton mix socks I can find. The socks are black, fluffy and man-size – but better than nothing.

I begin walking along the Sheringham Promenade, then along a raised concrete path with beach huts. There are cliffs to my right. To the left, groyes stretch across the beach. There are children playing in the sand and the tide is high.
At the end of the concrete path, I continue walking along the raised concrete sea wall. This is not an official walkway and I am soon alone. The wall ends and the drop down to the beach is too great, so I clamber down on the landward side. Now I am forced to walk behind the high wooden sea defence. The ground is rough with large pebbles, stones and boulders. The cliffs to my right are crumbling.

After a while, the high wooden sea wall on my left begins to deteriorate and I soon find I can clamber through the broken wall, onto the beach again. This is better. The high part of the beach is covered in large pebbles, but the tide has gone down and exposed firm sand – perfect for walking on. There are no people here, only gulls, perched on the groynes. In some places there are 20 or 30 of the birds. They squabble among themselves and vie for the best perches.

As I round a curve in the coastline I can see Cromer pier in the distance. The sun is shining, the sky is blue and it is a glorious day.
Ruth's coastal walk, approaching Cromer Pier
I reach Cromer sooner than I expected. The pier stretches across the beach and, before the pier, the promenade begins as an un-promising concrete path with beach huts along it. There is a small children’s amusement park with a helter skelter and roundabout, icecream shop and toilets. Now I reach the pier itself. It is nicer standing on the pier; clean wooden planks, open walkway, nice restaurant at the entrance, welcoming benches and very few people. There is a theatre at the end of the pier and sweating people, dressed in black, are pushing trolleys with equipment down the pier towards the theatre. I sit on a bench and eat a banana, watching them work.

The town of Cromer rises up on the low cliff behind the pier, with some imposing looking Victorian buildings, it looks a pleasant place. The pier overlooks the beach and there are families out, playing in the sand.

My husband is supposed to meet me here for lunch, but it is too early. I manage to get hold of him on my iPhone – the pier is the first place I have managed to get a signal since I set off this morning – and we plan to meet further on, at Overstrand.

Continuing along the short Cromer Promenade, I arrive at the eastern end where there is a museum and fishing boats pulled up on a slipway. I follow the sea wall, passing more beach huts – all locked up. Where the concrete path ends, I look ahead along the beach and see ruined groynes and battered sea defences, with high crumbling cliffs.

There are a few dog walkers out and fishermen, otherwise the beach is deserted. I walk for an hour, alone.

Eventually I see a concrete slipway ahead and recognise my husband standing waiting patiently for me.

This is Overstrand and the way up to the village is a very steep path. We came here with our first child when she was in a pushchair – my husband remembers pushing her down this path.

At the top is a wonderful seaside cafe. We sit in the garden in the sunshine, overlooking the sea, and eat good food.

The official Norfolk Coastal Path heads inwards at this point. I have checked the tides and I believe it is possible to walk to Mundseley along the beach at low tide, so I plan to stay on the coast. After lunch I set off Eastwards, leaving the groynes behind and crossing a very remote stretch of beach. There is nobody here at all. Nobody. On my right are crumbling cliffs with no way up. If you were caught here with a rising tide, it would be difficult to escape the waves. In the distance I see groynes again and I know, from the map, that I must be approaching Trimingham, just north of Mundesley. I pass a group of 3 fishermen, the first people I have seen for over an hour. At Trimingham, an access path down the cliff is marked on my map. But it must have crumbled into the sea. The beach is deserted. There are no footprints in the sand.
I feel somewhat anxious. According to David Cotton, who walked this section in 2002, “In places (particularly just to the north of Mundesley) the groynes were quite difficult to get past …”. If it turns out that my route ahead is blocked, I will have a very long walk back and I am feeling increasingly tired. I consider returning to ask the fishermen how they gained access to the beach. The cliffs are very crumbly with obvious landslips in many places and, although it would be possible to attempt the climb, I can’t see a route where the earth looks firm enough to try.

Now the groynes are very large – as I feared – with one end in the water and the other end embedded in a wooden sea wall, 5-6 foot high. To my relief, I find it is possible to pass through the wooden sea wall, broken in many places. I walk on the other side of the sea wall, over rough ground strewn with fallen cliff debris, but safely bypassing the groynes. I notice footprints on the sand. Other people have been walking here, and recently. I feel relieved and continue onwards.

I see a couple of people with dogs. They seem surprised when I greet them with enthusiasm and ask if there is an access point nearby to leave the beach. “Just round the corner!” they reply. And so it is. I come across more people, walking dogs and strolling across the beach. A small access road with parked cars meets the beach and leads up from the shore, past a caravan park, to the main coastal road. I discover I am on the outskirts of Mundesley. Luckily, I have a mobile phone signal again and I can call my husband. He is out on his bicycle and is lost. I sit by the Mundesley sign and eat everything left in my rucksack, waiting for him to arrive to pick me up.

Later, I take off my shoes and socks. To my horror, I see my feet have turned black and hairy. Then I realise – my new socks have left black fluff behind.

Vital stats: 10 miles and 4.5 hours. I am picking up speed! No new blisters.

About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
This entry was posted in 02 Norfolk and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Stage 7. Sheringham to Overstrand to Mundesley

  1. paul sennett says:

    i know it is a while ago when you last did this.. but if you start at low tide.. will it be ok to walk the beach?
    also we really enjoyed the walk in dorset uesterday from abbotsbury to ferrybridge the reverse direction to the way you did it.. we preferred it that way with the son on our faces and the wind on our backs. We will continue to follow your excellent walking plans….and THANK YOU SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO MUCH

    • Hi Paul and apologies for the delay in replying. (I’m doing some walking along the Wales coast and the wifi connection is a bit dodgy!) So glad to hear you are still walking. Yes, this section of the coast between Sheringham and Mundesley is easy to walk at low tide. I think it might be fine at high tide too, but not sure. David Cotton had problems with climbing over tall wooden groynes, but they had disintegrated when I walked the same section. It’s a lovely stretch of coast with great beaches.
      Best wishes, Ruth

  2. Jacqueline Sherlock says:

    The end of your walk, where you walked up the path from the beach and joined the coast road, is opposite where I live. Glad you enjoyed our wonderful coastline.

  3. jsherlock2 says:

    When you re-joined the coast road in Mundesley you were opposite where I live. So glad you enjoyed our wonderful coastline 🙂

    • I did enjoy it. Seems a long time ago now – 6 years! Wonder how much of the cliff has crumbled since. It’s a lovely place to live, lucky you 😊

      • jsherlock2 says:

        We had some devastating spring tides a few years ago which badly damaged the north norfolk coastline. The cliffs next to the path/road which leads up from the beach in Mundesley are no longer the same as when you were there. Huge chunks broke away. A lot of houses were lost over the cliffs also.

  4. Heather Walker says:

    Hi Ruth, I’m a new follower of your blog, having discovered it from another walking blog.
    “To my horror, I see my feet have turned black and hairy. Then I realise – my new socks have…l” Love this, you made me laugh out loud which is a very good thing indeed. I began with your 1st walk, then jumped to Lyme Regis as I know that bit v well. Then to yr most recent blogs, now back to Norfolk. You’re giving me a lot of pleasure, thanks. I walk canals as I love them, and there’s only 2000 miles, but I reckon it may take 30yrs at my pace, but, hey, I’ve nothing else to do.
    Heather, also 50something, in Yorkshire, dog lover, duck lover, Bridge player, woman.

    • Hi Heather, and thank you very much for taking the time to comment and for the kind words about my blog. I think walking the canals sounds a wonderful thing to do. (Maybe that’s next after I finish walking the coast) Like you, I’m a slow walker too. Speed is over-rated! Best wishes.

  5. Karen White says:

    I also laughed out loud at your black hairy feet comment. I didn’t like Cromer, in fact my friend drove in, saw the huge number of people wandering the streets and found somewhere to turn around and drive out again. Hordes of people are not my idea of fun at any time, let alone when I’m on holiday.

I welcome your views

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s