Thursday, 12 July 2018

The Country In Between

Lets have a look at the country in between the small coastal towns and villages of north Norfolk. And also the land sandwiched between the sea and the workable fields, a zone which can be up to two miles wide along this stretch of coast.

To a wandering gull the coast of north Norfolk must be an incredibly easy place to navigate. A little hop in the air and a couple of flaps of the wings and you can see for miles across this mostly flat landscape.

Down at ground level it can be a bit more confusing as things are constantly shifting and rearranging themselves. The Ordnance Survey maps can't keep up and Google maps just colour the whole area an optimistic green, though in reality there's not much that interests them in this landscape. Your GPS will tell you where you are but has no idea where the land ends and the water starts. And you'll be lucky to pick up a signal for your phone.

It's not only the difference between low and high tides that causes the changes. Winter storms can break through the sea defences and flood areas of previously dry land and then dump sand elsewhere. Ancient timber posts can be found stranded out in the middle of the beach.

Tidal creeks frequently change their course through the sands. Interesting word that - "creek". In England it's used to denote a tidal channel, whereas in North America and Australia it's changed its meaning to denote an inland stream. It seems to be derived from the Dutch word "kreek" and occurs most often in the east of England where there was frequent trade with the Low Countries.

These beautiful Avocets were feeding at Titchwell Bird Reserve which has itself had to adapt to the ever-changing coastline in recent years by allowing the sea to invade part of the area. The RSPB uses the bird as its emblem, as its recolonisation of our coasts has been one of the success stories of recent years. Ironically this invasion began, not as a result of any initiative by conservationists, but because of attempts to prevent a less welcome invasion - they stated nesting here in the 1940s when large areas of coast were protected by barbed wire during WWII.

Changes at Titchwell have also opened up this beautiful little pond to the public. It has a magic that makes you want to linger and it's also the best place to watch the Marsh Harriers that nest nearby.

Attitudes and fashions change too. This little holiday home was built among the dunes of Blakeney Point during the inter-war years, nowadays the area is a nature reserve.

There are also large areas of salt-marsh which at this time of year are tinged with a subtle shade of lilac by the Sea Lavender. There are occasional paths leading through but otherwise you won't find much to tempt you into these parts.

Beyond the salt-marsh is another of those endless beaches. Parts of this beach are used by naturists - but only during the summer I suspect.

They don't often venture up into the dunes - the vegetation is far too rough and prickly! It's amazing that anything can grow up here on what is no more than a heap of salty sand with no obvious sign of water. But plants do grow including, a little earlier in the year, several varieties of wild orchids

Views inland from the top of the dunes are surprisingly far-reaching. The grassy area is grazed by cattle during the summer months but in winter it's grazed by thousands of Pink-Footed Geese that fly down here from their breeding-grounds in Iceland, Greenland and Spitsbergen.

We'll end our little review of these in-between lands with a walk back to the car through the pine plantations on the Holkham Estate. These were planted on the dunes stabilise them and to prevent the sand blowing further inland. Then we'll travel back to Hunstanton where people gather to watch another sunset over the sea.  

Take care.


  1. Wauu.. what a wonderful views and lovely landscape.

  2. How beautiful and magical that in between landscape is. I remember watching the sunset somehwere in between Hunstanton and Old Hunstanton it was quite spectacular:)

  3. The scenery is so stunning!

  4. The shot of the gulls hanging in the sky is quite fabulous and I am very partial to those Avocets too.

  5. I never knew that 'creek' comes from our 'kreek', that's interesting.
    You found a magical spot, the variety in landscape is amazing.

  6. This is very similar to where we live on the Atlantic coast across the pond, tidal marshes and pine forests before the beach takes over. It's s great area for kayaking.

  7. It surprises me how much the tidal flats and marsh there look so much like our tidal flat and marsh here. Quite beautiful there and what a grand place for a walk. Lovely sunset too!

  8. Gorgeous area. The birds are spectacular. Thank you for sharing.

  9. What a beautiful area to be in

  10. A lovely overview showing the essence of what makes the Norfolk landscape so special.

  11. Hi John - lovely photos - I enjoyed seeing the sea lavender, the avocets, learning about the 'creek' and landscapes ... and yes, it always amazes me what grows where if and when it can be given or take a chance ... even on toxic land (mine dumps) ... thanks - great post - cheers Hilary

  12. One of my favourite parts of the country John.
    Speaking of looking at coasts - I sometimes fly from Durham Tees Valley airport to see friends in Amsterdam. After taking off the plane flies down the coast until it reaches the Humber Estuary - I love that part of the journey, looking down on the familiar coastline.

  13. A beautiful area, John. It's always a pleasure when you take us with you. The avocets are new to me, they sure are pretty birds and the photos with the gulls is incredible, I love it.
    Thank you!

  14. Those in-between places can be most appealing John, mostly because they often don't attract the mainstream! I haven't seen sea lavender before, is it as perfumed as the garden variety?


Thanks for taking the time to comment. I'll try to answer any questions via a comment or e-mail within the next day or two (no hard questions, please!).