Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Cliffs, Rocks, Sand, Sea

"In every outthrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand there is the story of the earth." 
― Rachel Carson

Hunstanton: a ride on the train, then a beach to make sand-castles, sea to paddle in, rocks to clamber over, and big cliffs reaching up to the sky - I'd never seen such things before. What I wanted to know was why the cliffs were different colours. Nobody seemed to know the answer.

Nowadays I know how to read the rocks for myself, so here we go...starting at the bottom where the oldest rocks are:

  • on the bottom - carrstone, a kind of sandstone with lots of iron impurities which give it its brownish colour.
  • then a reddish rock which is actually chalk, again with iron which gives it that distinctive hue.
  • on top just pure white chalk.

It all makes for a colourful scene. The rock above seems to have come from the transitional area between the two chalks. As you can see a lot of rock has been brought down by the winter storms and in places the cliffs look rather unstable. 

High up on the cliffs are nesting birds which most people think are gulls, though actually they're Fulmars, a species that 100 or so years ago was confined to the island of St Kilda, but which has now spread to rocky cliffs elsewhere in the country. They hang around these cliffs for most of the year and can easily be spotted as the glide gracefully on stiff, dead-straight wings like little aeroplanes.

In places rocks extend away from the cliffs right into the sea while elsewhere there are huge areas of sand.

Dogs of all sorts and sizes love it as do children of all ages. You have to take care though as with this huge acreage of sand the tide, when it comes in, comes in very quickly.

It can be dangerous to shipping too as this old wreck, which has been decomposing for some time, testifies. A great place to explore for children - and photographers....

But then it's great to just stroll about on the endless sands, concentrating on the little details - even the casts left by worms..

....or else taking in the wider scene...

  "The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever."                                                                                                                                                       Jacques Yves Cousteau

Take care.


  1. I love Rachel Carson. Lovely photos of all you saw both great & small.

  2. What I find amazing about the rocks you show above is that they were all once under some massive sea and the chalk comes from zillions of little creatures. I know that's fairly basic - but it does put us in our place somehow. Wonderful pictures - as usual. Hope you liked the castle.

  3. And explore you did John! Fantastic. The beach and sea offer up so many photo ops as you say, along where sea and sand meet.. love it! As soon as I saw the first shot I thought aye aye John will know what this is all about.. and of course you didn't let me down. Enjoyed this explore with you very much.

  4. I love Hunstanton, it makes me think of old seaside towns and doesn't seem to be too spoiled (fantastic joke shop too!). I love the photo of the couple on the beach with the dog.

  5. We used to holiday in Maine, and we always spent an afternoon walking in the Rachel Carson Conservation area. Trails meandered through a big-treed forest and a boardwalk wound through the tidal flats. Very restful.
    Dramatic stripes to those very high cliffs in your photos.
    Jaccques Cousteau expresses the attraction of the ocean beautifully. I hear his grandson is spending a month underwater in a submarine. Can't wait to see his films.

  6. Beautiful photographs and I like the quotations you included too. Hunstanton is on my long list of places I'd like to visit!

  7. I like to look for fossils in seaside cliffs like that. The old wreck is neat.

  8. I love trying to figure out the geology of the rocks we see.

  9. Enchanting place, and great photos, John--you really find the heart of it.

  10. What a lovely post. I love the sea, the beach and all those tiny things hidden in pools and half submerged in the sand. Any seaside,be it warm, calm and sunny or freezing with a gaging gale . . . the sea has some magical quality that fills me with joy.
    Great photos and isn't it nice to know a little more than 'when we were six'?

  11. What a brilliant series of pictures, really captured that particular stretch of coast. Thank you.

  12. Your photos are lovely--sweeping seascapes and closeups

    So many beautiful colors in the second photo from the bottom--
    Jacques Cousteau was such a favorite of mine when his ocean documentaries were aired years ago.

  13. I love all these places on the North Norfolk coast John, with their big skies and huge expanses of sea and sand.

  14. Wish I could see it for myself! It looks so beautiful there! It's kind of sad that the sea is tearing away at the cliffs but it does make thm a bit different every time you see them.

  15. What gorgeous photos. I would love to walk on this beautiful beach.


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