Route details, maps, pubs, features, local history and folklore for a wide variety of walks focusing primarily on Norfolk and Suffolk

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Norfolk/Suffolk Coast - Gorleston to Kessingland

A 14 mile coastal walk between Gorleston and Kessingland crossing the border from Norfolk to Suffolk

There is no official footpath for the route that crosses the border between Norfolk and Suffolk and parts of the beach are inaccessible due to coastal erosion and crumbling sea defences. However, it is still possible to walk this section using a mixture of beach walking and paths across the cliffs. The highlight has to be Ness Point which is the most easterly point of the British Isles.

Gorleston to Kessingland Walk - Essential Information

Walk Statistics:

Start point
GorlestonView in OS Map | View in Google Map
End Point
KessinglandView in OS Map | View in Google Map
Total Walk distance
miles
Walk difficulty
Easy - though we did have to clamber up and down the cliffs!

Transport:

Anglian Bus - Bus Service
Service Number
61 - Anglian Bus service 61 Southwold to Great Yarmouth via Kessingland, Pakefield and Lowestoft
Timetable

Walk Data

Date of Walk
2010-11-13
Walk Time
10:30 to 16:00
Walkers
Griffmonster Kat
Weather Conditions
The walk was separated by a weather-front that sat across the Norfolk Suffolk border resulting in the strange anaomoly where Norfolk was bathed in sunshine and blue skies and Suffolk was cast in a dreary grey and heavy clouds.

Walk Notes

When I first walked this section of coast in 2008 I did it in a rush in order to catch the train from Lowestoft station. On this occassion we took a much more leisurely pace and explored a little more. We did endeavour to walk the entire section along the cliffs but was first hampered at Gorleston where we followed a footpath through the housing estate only to end up back at the beach. From here it was clear that we were not welcome along the clifftop as there were signs stating that it was private land. So it wasnt until just south of Hopton that we could continue when the beach route was inaccessible due to storm damage. The path between Hopton and Corton shows evidence of recent erosion and at one point it had dissapeared down the cliff.

We left the car in the free car park at Kessingland which lengthened our walk a little, but was nonetheless enjoyable. I really do want to walk the official Suffolk Coastal Path between Pakefield and Kessingland, but so far each time I have come to this, the thought of walking alongside the main A12 always forces my decision to walk along the beach. It is true that a very high tide this would not be possible, but even on this occassion which was soon after high tide there is ample beach left between the cliffs and the sea. The going is not tough either as there is firm sand just below the high tide mark.

2012 Update - Erosion now blocks the cliff top path at Hopton Radar Station

According to the Eastern Daily Press (Article here) the footpath along the cliff top in front of the former Hopton Radar Station has been taken by coastal erosion. This being the case a diversion would be needed up to the coast road and into Corton. This is not necessarily a bad thing as it will lead past the historic Corton Church which sits in part of the original church.

This part of the coast has been suffering from erosion for some years and there are certain reports that even say this is the fastest coastal erosion in the UK. Walking along the cliffs soon shows evidence of this where sections of the footpath disappear into the void. In most instances there is grassed land can be used to get around this but at the Radar Station there is a fence that prevents access along the clifftop now the footpath has been taken. There used to be a promenade that led to Corton from Hopton and I was able to walk the majority of this in 2008 but on this walk it was cordoned off due to damage from the sea.

Erosion affects many areas along the East Anglian coast and it would appear that the present strategy is one of managed retreat allowing the sea to naturally take areas of land. It is a pretty hopeless, costly and resource intensive task to defend the coast when the sea is on the offensive and this can be seen in numerous coastal stretches with the remnants of groynes and defences that litter the beaches. Although one may well think that East Anglia is slowly succumbing to the sea, it is not always the case as evidenced at Kessingland. I have many happy memories of family holidays at this resort when the beach was a simple shingle slope down to the sea. Now this has greatly expanded into a vast shingle spit with groynes and promenade buried under sand and shingle. I have read that these shingle spits slowly, over many years, push northward along the coast and the particular spit at Kessingland used to be miles to the south at Easton Bevants which is now suffering some serious erosion.

Plaque to mark the most easterly point in Britain
Plaque to mark the most easterly point in Britain

Directions

The beach can be walked as far as Hopton. From here there is a clifftop path into Corton followed by a road walk until a path at Gunton allows access back to the beach.

Follow the River through Gorleston down to the seafront. From here keep to the beach through to Hopton. The concrete sea defences just beyond Hopton are cordoned off due to storm damage but a cliff top path leads through to Corton. After the woods just south of Corton there is a path back down to the beach. Continue along this through to Ness Point where you need to follow the roads in order to cross the river at the bascule bridge. Head south out of Lowestoft along the prom. This leads up and across the cliffs to just south of Pakefield where you can either follow the waymarkers for the Suffolk Coastal Walk or take the path down to the beach. Note that the Suffolk Coastal Path is a walk along the main A12 to Kessingland so the beach route is a lot more pleasant experience. No contest really!

Gorleston and Lowestoft lighthousesGorleston and Lowestoft lighthouses
On the left Gorleston and Lowestoft lighthouses; On the right Gorleston and Lowestoft lighthouses

Pubs

The White Horse, Corton View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Image of pub

The White Horse is the oldest extant hostelry in Corton, going back almost three hundred years, although its present site is not the original one. The first White Horse stood in the old main street, north of Baker's Score, next to Bleak House but was abandoned sometime between 1844 and 1862 when a new inn built on the present site. In 2009 the pub underwent an extensive refurbishment and now the business focuses on the restaurant trade. Freshly prepared food made from localy sourced supplies accompanies ales by Green King with other guest ales.

Review

At first we hesitated as to whether to frequest this establishment on account of the Green King motifs across the pub. Eventually we decided to venture in and was rewarded with an excellent and refreshing pint of Wolfs Coyote.

In the distance the cranes on Great Yarmouth outer harbour which started construction in 2007 and was completed in 2010. Now the cranes are to be shipped off and sold having never been used. Personally I thought this was a white elephant of a project from the start. It was conceived as a ferry terminal with a predicted 150,000 trucks passing through each year. With no major road or rail networks to and from Great Yarmouth it was doomed to fail from the start!
In the distance the cranes on Great Yarmouth outer harbour which started construction in 2007 and was completed in 2010. Now the cranes are to be shipped off and sold having never been used. Personally I thought this was a white elephant of a project from the start. It was conceived as a ferry terminal with a predicted 150,000 trucks passing through each year. With no major road or rail networks to and from Great Yarmouth it was doomed to fail from the start!

Features

Gorleston LighthouseView in OS Map | View in Google Map

Gorleston Lighthouse, a round red brick tower, stands between the amusement arcade and other buildings on Quay Road. It seems an odd place to locate a lighthouse but such a location does make it stick out from the rest of the buildings. It was built in 1878 and carries two lights. A rear white light for the harbor entrance range (4 seconds on, 2 seconds off) and a fixed red light displayed from the gallery.

Ness PointView in OS Map | View in Google Map

Ness Point is Great Britain's most easterly point. It is marked with a direction marker known as Euroscope which indicates places and countries and their distances. It also marks the summer and winter solstice direction. Also located at Ness Point is Britain's tallest wind turbine, which is nicknamed "Gulliver". It stands 180 meters tall, generating energy for the National Grid.

Lowestoft LighthouseView in OS Map | View in Google Map

Lowestoft lighthouse was built in 1609 as a response to petitions from shipowners and merchants who had lost cargoes and vessels on the dangerous sandbanks and shoals around the East coast. It was one of a pair of lighthouses built to aid vessels through the Stamford Channel, an inshore passage used by small vessels which no longer exists. Its sister lighthouse was finally extinguished in 1923. Originally the lighthouse was erected on the low lying foreshore but was relocated on the cliffs in 1676 to aid ships that were far out at sea. The light was originally made from tallow candles and was finally electrified in 1870 which was then automated in 1975.

On the left, the footpath succombs to coastal erosion at Corton. On the right, a ship heads out to sea at GorlestonOn the left, the footpath succombs to coastal erosion at Corton. On the right, a ship heads out to sea at Gorleston
On the left On the left, the footpath succombs to coastal erosion at Corton. On the right, a ship heads out to sea at Gorleston; On the right On the left, the footpath succombs to coastal erosion at Corton. On the right, a ship heads out to sea at Gorleston

Images

Below are a selection of images taken from from the photo album for this walk. Feel free to browse through these or click on any image to view a larger version in the Gallery.

Click on an image below to view the Image Gallery

Maps

Below is the route depicted on the OpenStreetMap, Ordnance Survey Map and Google Map. Links to full page versions are found in the Essential Information

Summary of Document Changes

Last Updated: ... 2017-02-05

2012-12-28 : Add in information about recent coastal erosion
2015-01-11 : Add link to animated video of the walk

  2 comments:

  1. Living in Norfolk I am always going to say it is the best part of the east. Found your blog and keep it coming.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Martin - I have to admit that I walk the North Norfolk Coast Path each year because it is such a pleasure to keep going back there

    ReplyDelete

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