Beeston Bump and Cliffs
Beeston Bump and Cliffs

This area is a geological SSSI as the cliffs form part of the Quaternary succession and exhibit important glacial features.

Flora and Fauna

A 2km square (Tetrad) containing Beeston Bump and the shallow glacial valley to the south (Sheringham and Beeston Regis Commons) contained over 580 flowering plants at the beginning of the 21st Century. Many of these plants are restricted in range and therefore nationally scarce or rare. Around the Bump, tree lupin, clary, kidney vetch and greater knapweed are a feature of the summer months.

The area around the Bump has also proved interesting for bird migrants with alpine swift, Sardinian warbler and tawny pipit among the sightings. Looking offshore from the cliffs in late summer and early autumn arctic skuas can often be seen harassing terns. Seabird movements can sometimes be spectacular with auks, gannets, shearwaters and ducks passing close inshore.

The striated catchfly and the purple broomrape are both nationally scarce plants and should not be disturbed. The catchfly grows alongside well-used sandy paths and trampling should be avoided if at all possible. The broomrape is a parasitic plant with yarrow as its host. Numbers fluctuate yearly.

Beeston Hill - a glacial legacy

Beeston Hill, known affectionately as Beeston Bump, was once two symmetrically round flat-topped hills in the shape of giant molehills like many others on the margin of the Cromer - Holt Ridge. These hills are geological features known as kames. Like the ridge itself, which roughly follows the line of the A148 road and is heavily wooded, they were left behind when the glaciers retreated northwards at the end of the last Ice Age. This happened between 15,000 and 10,000 years ago, which is extremely recent in geological timescales. At this time most of what is now the North Sea was dry land, with the Rhine and the Thames combining to form a giant estuary. As more ice melted, sea levels rose and the North Sea was formed.

By the 1930’s almost the entire hill on the seaward side had been washed away, as now has the northern half of Beeston Bump. Approximately 80m (260ft) of cliff have been lost since 1800, taking with it a brickworks and a football pitch. Erosion has been slowed by building groynes and sea walls.

As elsewhere on this walk, the remains of military installations from the 1939-45 War can still be seen. There is also a triangulation pillar, which was used for surveying before the advent of GPS (Global Positioning Satellites). You are currently 63m (207ft) above mean sea level. The highest point in Norfolk (102m, 335ft) is on the Cromer-Holt Ridge at Roman Camp, West Runton, approximately 2.3km (1.4mi) southeast.

Exposed and Battered

Sheringham’s north facing coast bears the brunt of the north and north-easterly winds with no landmass between it and the Arctic. The north-east wind is particularly keen and is known locally as the ‘lazy wind’ on account of the fact that its penetrating coldness seems to go clean through you instead of around you! Such strong winds over long distances build up the sea and large waves crash against the base of the cliffs, which are composed of soft materials (sands, gravels and clays, with occasional ‘erratics’ - large lumps of chalk and boulders which may have been moved over large distances by the ice-age glaciers). The glaciers have deposited many boulders on the local beaches that originate from Norway - long before man introduced the Norwegian rock defences seen at Sheringham!

In 1953 a North Sea surge flooded much of the North Norfolk coastline, as well as many other places to the south. The surge was a combination of northerly high winds and high tides, which raised the water level and as it was pushed south the water level increased further due to a funnelling effect caused as the North Sea narrowed.

NB. The nature of the cliffs is soft and unstable therefore please keep to
footpaths and away from the edge.

After coming down the other side of the hill it is possible to return to the town centre via Nelson Road (see map). Alternatively, continue on the Coast Path as far as the railway level crossing. Cross with care and immediately turn right. You have now left the Coast Path and for the next section of the walk should follow the yellow Sheringham Trails pine symbol. Keep to the path alongside the railway line, passing allotments and a meadow with fine views of Beeston Priory. At the end of the path turn left into Church Close, then left again into Church Lane. At the end of the lane turn right to enter the footpath, which goes past Beeston Priory.