A UK Coastal Trip – Aldeburgh

Dunwich

The village flourished as a port until, in 1286, a huge storm threw sand/shingle across the harbour diverting the river and destroying trade. By 1677 the sea had reached the market place and Dunwich had become an estate village.

Sizewell

Sizewell itself is a small fishing village and a few small boats still operate from the beach. Two nuclear power stations have been built outside the village. Sizewell A is in the process of being decommissioned and Sizewell B is still in production. There are plans to build a third on the site, to start producing electricity in 2031. Offshore there are two platforms. These are no longer in use but were there to service the intake and discharge tunnels used to run sea water through the cooling system. The cold water inlet was the farthest platform and the hot water outlet was the nearest platform.

Thorpeness

This unique holiday village is centred on a shallow man-made lake. Built in the early 1900s houses vary in style, including Tudor, Jacobean & traditional 18th century East Anglian weatherboard. Shingle beaches stretch north and south.

Aldeburgh

A main street of Georgian houses and older cottages provides a historic backdrop to a wide shingle beach where fishing boats rest up in a long line and numerous fisherman’s huts sell the daily catch of fish and shellfish. By 1600 the town was a prosperous port and fishing centre and in the 19th century it became a popular resort. But things have changed over the years. The half-timbered Tudor Moot Hall, the Town Hall, is now almost on the shore and the three roads that originally separated it from the sea have been washed away over time.

Felixstowe

A sedate Edwardian resort stretches around a long, gently curving bay, rubbing shoulders with one of Europe’s busiest container ports.

In the resort part of town a paved promenade is backed by well-tended gardens. Beyond the Spa Pavilion beach huts take the place of the gardens and follow the sand and shingle shore. The pleasure pier opened in 1905, 800 metres in length, making it, at one time, the longest in the UK. It had its own station and steamers operated from the seaward end which was demolished after WWII. The shore end was rebuilt and re-opened in 2017.

A UK Coastal Trip – Southwold

Gorlestone-on-Sea

In days gone by, hundreds of fishing boats from the herring fleet would sail from Gorlestone’s harbour, watched by locals sheltering from the breeze in the cozies on the pier. This all ended in 1904 and the red brick lighthouse nowadays mainly guides gas rig supply vessels in and out. Located as it is, at one of the two entrances into the Broads, the town has become a popular tourist centre with its own huge bay and riverside and a stunning sandy beach stretching into the distance below cliff gardens and a grand promenade. Summer Sundays in Gorleston are a chilled-out affair, with bands playing in the bandstand surrounded by deckchairs, as visitors and passers-by watch the Sunday yacht race streaming past below in the bay.

From the cliffs there is a good view of the flat, sandy beach that extends in both directions. Slightly isolated on the long promenade, Jay’s Café proudly boasts of being in the UK’s Top 10 Cafes. Down from the town, families and couples, old & young, wander around the stalls & arcades. Children buzz about on scooters, dogs pull on leads and older men play with their remote-controlled boats in the small boating pool.

Lowestoft

The huge, concrete sea defences stand well above the caravans that clutter the coast at this point. Groynes & the remains of wooden piers jut out into the sea giving a reminder of a past closely linked to the sea. The town’s fortunes were founded on the trawling grounds of Dogger Bank where herring was caught & smoked & sent to London & the Midlands. The port is still important in supplying off-shore gas & oil operations. South of Lake Lothing, a narrow strip of water that divides the town, is South Beach Pier, erected to improve the harbour & dating from 1846.

Further south down the beach, Claremont Pier was built in 1902/3 as a mooring for Belle steamers.

Pakefield

South along the coast, the Pakefield Caravan Park spreads along the clifftop. Access to the beach is by steep steps down the cliff from the bungalows and chalets of Kirkley & Pakeland.

Kessingland

The shore is growing here and the sea receding. The long sand & shingle beach is backed by low cliffs. Cafes & a caravan park run along the seafront.

Southwold

This popular, small, seaside town still retains its charm. Redbrick & flint cottages and colour-washed houses cluster around numerous greens which were created after a fire devastated the town in 1659. Behind the brightly coloured beach huts that line the promenade, is the unique sight of the Victorian lighthouse which stands tall and proud amongst the seaside terraces that cluster around it in admiration of its curves & elegance. Along the pebbly beach the pier reaches out into the sea, providing a constant reminder to visitors of the town’s class and pedigree.

 

A UK Coastal Trip – Great Yarmouth

This stretch of coast has amazing variety – tidal creeks, salt marshes, dunes, shingle spits, harbours, rolling cliffs and huge expanses of unspoilt beach, all beneath big, big skies. But it is a constantly changing picture. Over the centuries, land has been lost to the sea, eroded away and beaten and drifted along the coast to new positions. With the help of numerous coastal defence schemes to protect the coast, villages still cling on to their historic sites. At the same time as this battle rages, holidaymakers capture the clifftops in cohorts of mobile homes, holiday camps, caravan parks and camp sites, for the time being anyway.

 

(from the Happisburgh village website)

Overstrand

This old clifftop crab-fishing village is now a popular holiday resort with some rather classy homes. It has a wide, sandy beach reached by steep steps or a long zigzag of a slipway.

Mundesley

This tranquil, family resort with a wide, sandy beach is backed by low cliffs. It dates back to the Domesday Book. The railway, which no longer exists, was built in 1889 to bring in visitors.

Keswick, Walcott, Ostend

The villages of Keswick, Walcott and Ostend, along with a number of holiday camps, stand behind a sturdy sea wall and a long beach of soft sand & groynes.

Happisburgh

What is going at Happisburgh is a good example of what is going on along this entire section of the coast. Although now a coastal village, Happisburgh was once some distance from the sea, parted from the coast by the parish of Whimpwell, long since eroded away. Historic records indicate that over 250 metres of land were lost between 1600 and 1850. Coastal defences have slowed down the rate of retreat. However, large sections are now in disrepair. Sea-level rise and climate change, including increased storminess, could also increase the rate of erosion. Agriculture and tourism contribute significantly to the local economy and this is threatened by the receding cliff line that, prior to the construction of a rock embankment at the northern end, has claimed at least one property per year plus significant quantities of agricultural land. Erosion is winning here. Homes & fences cling on as the cliff falls into the sea. The lighthouse, built in 1790, stands well back from the edge. Further south, there is little evidence of Eccles-on-Sea, an ancient fishing village that is now virtually all swept into the North Sea.

Sea Palling

This is a quiet village with a beach that is ideal for children with safe waters calmed by man-made coastal defence reefs. Sea Palling has a rich history dominated by sea flooding, ship wrecks and heroism on the waves. There have been several breaches of the dunes by the sea over the centuries causing death and damage. Only in the 20th century have real efforts been made to keep the sea back by extending the sea wall, building up huge dunes and constructing offshore barrier reefs to protect land & homes.

Winterton-on-Sea

Built between 1415 and 1430, the church’s soaring tower dominates the landscape and at 40 metres remains a landmark for sailors to this day. A carpark in the dunes provides access to the large sand/shingle beach and holds a cluster of wooden storage units at one end and Jane’s Café at the other.

Hemsby


The village itself is situated a distance from the beach surrounded by caravans, chalets and mobile homes and a strip of fairground rides, arcades, pubs, cafes, even a tattoo parlour. An entire 1960s holiday camp, boarded up and deserted, is for sale. The concrete remains of WWII defences lie scattered on the beach.

Scratby


Chalets and mobile homes now give way to permanent housing, spreading away from the clifftop. The streets of bungalows do look very similar. The empty beach lies below the cliffs.

California

Yes, this is the real deal. Along the cliff road stretch holiday park, bungalows and holiday homes, rows of chalets and caravans and more mobile homes. This is California! A steep path leads down to the empty beach.

Caistor-on-Sea


Once a thriving port, the village is now a holiday destination with a caravan park on the coast. Concrete sea defences and metal gates, guarded by stone lions, stand strong against any incursions by the sea.

Great Yarmouth


This medieval fishing village grew into a seaside resort from 1760. The Pleasure Beach, which opened in 1909, is a tangle of rails & ramps, of rides & amusements, of faces & slopes, of things that go up and things that go around & over & down & up again.The usual seaside attractions & amusements include donkey rides & deckchairs for hire. Two piers share the beach. Britannia Pier opened in 1858.

Wellington Pier opened in 1854.

A UK Coastal Trip – Cromer

Snettisham

The village of Snettisham looks across the square-mouthed estuary of the Wash. The Snettisham RSPB reserve lies on the coast some 3.2 km to the west of the village.

Heacham


Sturdy, stepped sea defences rise to protect beach huts and caravan parks from any incursion by the sea. The beach is long & flat and the water is shallow & sheltered and so popular with holidaymakers in the numerous holiday centres around here. The town itself is further inland. The Victorians came here in numbers when the railway from King’s Lynn was built in the 1860s. Heacham is at the heart of Norfolk’s lavender growing industry.

Hunstanton


The town was established in 1846 as a place where workers could relax by the sea. It is the only coastal town in East Anglia to face west. Horizontally striped cliffs, now partly eroded into a litter of boulders and stones on the sandy beach, stretch southwards. The grassy clifftop, 18 metres above the shore, is dominated by a disused lighthouse and the 13th century ruins of St Edmunds Chapel. Old Hunstanton with its bungalows & chalets and amusements & rides lies to the north.

Holkham Gap

Holkham Gap is a vast expanse of low-tide sands and mudflats. An avenue of trees, with carparking on either side, stretches seaward from the grand estate of Holkham Hall to a café, from where a boardwalk leads through pine trees and dunes to the beach.

Wells-next-the-Sea

Wells-next-the-Sea is an old port at the head of the East Fleet estuary. Once a manufacturing and fishing town, several crabbers and other angling vessels still operate from the quayside. The large granary building processed malt for sale to London & Dutch breweries and is now converted into apartments.

A path and a road run parallel to the sea defences along the estuary, down past the lifeboat station and the beach café, to an absolutely glorious beach of soft, golden, sand backed by dunes & pine trees. In front of the trees a long line of very classy, stilted beach huts keep an eye on the activities taking place below them.

Morston & Blakeney

Both settlements were thriving ports until the 16th century. Since then silting has left only narrow channels to the sea which can only be used by small craft at high tide. Paths and walkways lead through the saltwater marshes, home to numerous species of birds. Boats can be hired to observe basking seals out on Blakeney Point.

Cley next the Sea

Cley’s claim to fame is its 18th century windmill, now a guesthouse, which looks out to sea across the reed beds of the nature reserve . The narrow streets of the village itself are lined with small shops including a tea shop, a pub & a pottery.

Salthouse

This village of flint cottages, once a port, is now cut off from the sea. Narrow lanes lead across the marsh to the shingle beach, ideal for walking, spotting wildlife and fishing.

Weybourne


The village is home to pretty flint cottages. On the wild shingle beach a pair of rusting Track Marshalls remember better days when they led the sad collection of boats to the water’s edge.

Sheringham


Once a fishing village, this traditional seaside town boasts a Blue Flag beach. Along the back of the sea wall is a frieze telling the story of its long association with the sea.

Cromer


Cromer has called itself the ‘gem of the Norfolk coast’ since the 18th century. It stands on a low, crumbling cliff fronted by a long promenade with beach huts at each end. The town had grown up as a fishing station over the centuries. Boats still rest up at the top of the beach, each with their own ancient, blue tractor to reverse them into & out of the water. Crabs and lobsters are still landed in the summer and placed on the menu of local restaurants and fish shops. Tourism developed in the town during the Victorian period. Visitors are still attracted by its sandy beaches, its winding streets and old flint cottages around the 14th century church and the many small local independent shops and hotels.


There have been a number of piers here since the first, wooden jetty in 1391. The present structure was completed in 1902. The sea end consisted of glass-screened shelters and a bandstand. These were roofed over in 1905 to form a pavilion and the bandstand was later replaced with a stage. The pier is also home to Cromer Lifeboat Station.

A UK Coastal Trip – Skegness

Mablethorpe

This is an area of caravans, holiday parks & chalets and Mablethorpe does its best to provide entertainment for the many visitors. This takes the form of casinos, bingo halls, amusement arcades, tea rooms and fast food kiosks. At the entrance to the long, sandy beach four donkeys wait stoically for riders. Their keeper stands as bored as they are, checking his phone, at the lack of any punters.

Trusthorpe

Still surrounded by holiday parks with names like Seaside Holiday Park, Holiday Estates & Caravan Park, Leisure Park, the village itself has a line of rather glamorous, windowed beach huts running along the top of the concrete sea defences. The soft, sandy beach is divided in two by a large block of apartments and flats build on a low rocky outcrop. The ever-present arcades and seaside amusements shelter down below the raised promenade which provides protection from the weather and the tides.

Sutton on Sea

Like Miami Beach (yes, believe it!) to the south, this coastal village does not have funfairs or arcades, but it does have the attraction of a long, soft-sandy beach and a quiet, peaceful feel to it.

Anderby Creek

This is a peaceful, tranquil place, away from noise & distraction. A car park gives access to the beach through the dunes. There are a number of caravan parks in the immediate locality

Chapel St Leonards

Beach huts line the curve of Chapel Point which was part of major coastal defences during WWII. Renovations have taken place and it is now a bright, modern village of brick villas and chalets with a traditional seaside feel around the centre. The sandy beach stretches for miles in both directions. Along the coast, south of the village, are numerous holiday parks which are home to hundreds of static caravans.

Ingoldmells

Ingoldmells is a village, although you would never believe it, with a church that dates back to 1200. the village has the largest concentration of static caravans in Europe. In 1936 the UK’s first holiday camp was built here by Billy Butlin. A large Amusement Park opened up in 1995 to cater for the large numbers that came to holiday here and has since built up a variety of rides, attractions and entertainments. The Jubilee Odyssey, the world’s largest roller coaster of its type, dominates the area and can be seen from miles away. Acres of low caravans surround the goddess (female??) of holiday rides and her attendants, paying homage to the screams of excitement that emanate from this complex of amusements and stalls and holiday homes.

Skegness

Skegness was built on the end a long stretch of coast characterised by soft sandy beaches and sea-facing caravan parks which have spread over low, eroding cliffs. Sea defences have been built to protect this traditional seaside resort from the weather that bash it from the east. The ‘old Skegness’ was swallowed by the sea in the 1500s following storms and floods and has now been located about half a-mile out to sea. Only when the railway reached Skegness in 1873 did visitors begin to arrive in large numbers. They were the new day trippers from the working classes, but all there was for them were four hotels, two or three refreshment rooms, the sea and sands and several bathing machines. Work began to build wide, tree-lined streets, promenades and gardens, a park and a pier, as well as a new main shopping street, a church and lots of new houses. In the twenty years between the World Wars, basic amenities were built to establish the town as we see today.

Out to sea the flailing arms of 150 odd wind turbines warn off invaders and wave in welcome to any visitors approaching from that direction. On the land side a tangle of well-used rides, helters & skelters, arcades and neon provide satisfaction for the desire for amusement. Formal gardens with a boating lake line the seafront, which overlooks a 6 km stretch of firm, sandy beach. Each year this slowly increases in size as the sea continues to have an impact on the land.

A UK Coastal Trip – Cleethorpes

Hornsea

This rather ordinary resort town expanded in Victorian times with the coming of the railways. Groynes are set along the beach which is separated from the road & terraces by a pleasant promenade.

Withernsea

An impressive castellated structure is the rather grand entrance to the town’s long, soft sandy beach. Peeping above the terraced houses that look onto the seafront is the lighthouse, now home to a museum.

Easington

This small village at the base of Spurn Head used to share the coastline with several other settlements. All of these have now been lost to the encroaching sea. Now a caravan park at the edge of the village, clings on to solid ground as the sea nibbles away at its feet.

The long, flat piece of sand which is Spurn Head Nature Reserve curves around across the mouth of the River Humber with the North Sea on one side and the river estuary on the other.

Barton-upon-Humber

The magnificent Humber Bridge, crosses the river a few miles upstream, hitting the south bank at Barton-upon-Humber. When it opened in 1981 it was the longest single span suspension bridge in the world. In 2020 it is the eleventh longest.

Along the both banks of the estuary, industry rules.

Grimsby

Grimsby has a proud history of being one of the greatest fishing ports in the world. Until the mid-1970s, 200 or so deep-sea trawlers sailed from here to northern waters. Whilst not as large as in the past, there is still a commercial life to the town. Fish is still landed here and sold in the dockside fish market. In amongst the disused factories and the modern yacht marinas, some of the old curing companies and fish packers still exist to process the catch. Empty factories and warehouses, window spaces gaping, are cluttered by small hills of bricks and tangles of metal.

Vehicles for export are collected in vast dockside carparks and await loading into the bowels of their mother ship. New industry, business initiatives and commercial centres back onto the sea, presenting their smart frontage to the town. A container port now operates from the quayside.

Cleethorpes

The town really became popular as a holiday resort with the coming of the railway in the late 19th century. Lined with amusements and arcades, the promenade runs along the beach for 4km or so. The town is full of fish & chip shops competing with each other for the accolade of ’the best in town’. One advertises a ‘Victorian experience’ matching the many buildings of the same era. The sea goes out almost a mile over the soft sands and visitors should take care as there are fast incoming tides. At dawn the beach is given a daily makeover, manicured, by a tractor-mounted rake. The result is a flat, even surface, gradually disturbed by the footprints of dogs and walkers.

The pier was first opened in 1873. A pier-head concert hall was built in 1888 but destroyed by fire in 1903. A new pavilion was built near the shore in 1905 with a cafe and shops on the site of the original building. During WWII, the council, who then owned it, demolished part of it and created a gap in the structure to act as a defence measure in the event of a German invasion. After the war the isolated seaward section was demolished and the pier now measured 100 metres compared to its original 365 metres.

A UK Coastal Trip – Bridlington

I did not know which of two large Yorkshire resort towns to include in the title of this section as both Scarborough and Bridlington have their own charming and individual features. I chose Bridlington in the end because, being smaller, less well-known and less hectic, I picked up a warm, homely feel about the place that created images in my mind of happy, family holidays and hard-working fishermen battling the weather, casting their nets and laying their pots and landing their catch.

Scarborough

Scarborough originated from a 10th century Viking fishing settlement in the shelter of a craggy sandstone headland, where there had earlier been a Roman signal station. In the 12th century a Norman castle was built on the headland. Ruins of Henry II’s castle stand on a knob of land high above the town. It retains high, buttressed walls and an impressive keep. During the 17th century the town declined as a fortress town. With the improvement in transportation and with the advent of the railways in particular, Scarborough reinvented itself as a spa resort. Later sea bathing, which, it is said, first began here, contributed to the town’s growth as a fashionable 18th-century resort. Overlooking the bay, terraces of elegant building were built to cater for the new holiday makers of Georgian & Victorian times, with grand hotels dotted freely amongst them.

The resort has everything required for a traditional seaside holiday experience. Along the seafront are traditional amusement arcades, ice cream parlours, shellfish stalls, deckchair sheds and beach huts, even donkey rides on the beach. It is a tribute to the seaside splendour of yesteryear. Elements include South Cliff Italian Gardens, the derelict Sun Bathing Pavilion, the Vernacular Railway, tea and dancing in the Spa Centre, the splendour of the Grand Hotel and a small funfair on the quay between the two beaches. The glare from the glitter & the neon of the arcades & fairground hide the old alleys and steps that lead up into the old town and the castle. Shops selling gems and fossils compete for space with the bright shops selling sweet rock, candy floss or Kiss Me Quick hats. Fishing vessels berth in the inner harbour, with pleasure boats in the outer, are a reminder to visitors of the town’s long association with the sea.

Filey

Small amusements, Crazy Golf, a kiddies’ roundabout, a rock shop and a café with those square, aluminium tables and chairs outside, share the space with fishing paraphernalia – nets, pots, buoys, crates. A few fishing boats, along with their tractors, wait at the top of the cobbled slipway, poised for a Le Mans style dash to the beach and the sea.

North Landing

Two rusty tractors and 3/4 cobles are a reminder that, in the past, 50 or so boats used to go fishing for cod & crabs from this pretty cove. A track leads down to a small sand & pebble beach

Flamborough

The Old Tower lighthouse, built in 1674, is a reminder of a fishing tradition going back to the 9th century. The 1806 lighthouse is on the headland above steep steps leading to a chalk beach.

Bridlington

The town was originally two settlements that merged over time – the Old Town, with its fishermen’s cottages and narrow streets was about a mile inland and the Quay area was where the modern harbour now lies. In 1837, the old wooden piers of the port were replaced with two new stone ones to create the quay. Working boats still land their catch here, leaving nets, pots and crates on the quay. Bridlington is known for its shellfish. The Gansey Girl is a sculpture, situated on the North Pier, to bid farewell to fishermen as they leave the harbour and welcoming them back as they return. She depicts a young woman sitting on a plinth knitting a gansey, a traditional jumper that contains a rich pattern of symbolism passed down through generations of fishing families around the coast of Britain.

As well as landing fish, it was used to transport corn. The 1826 Corn Exchange can still be seen in the market place. There used to be mills in the town for grinding, which led to local breweries starting up, but like most industry, these petered out by the latter part of the 20th century.

Bridlington’s first hotel opened in 1805 and it soon became a popular holiday resort for industrial workers from the West Riding of Yorkshire. A new railway station was opened in 1846, between the Quay and the historic town and the two settlements merged together. The harbour divides North and South Parades, each with a mile-long, soft ,sandy beach. The two promenades run along the top of each beach with gift shops, tea & burger bars, seaside goods, spreading out onto the pavement.