Geology Walks in North Norfolk
North Norfolk has a fascinating landscape and the Geology Walks at West Runton have established a strong public following over more than 20 years. Join one of Martin Warren's renowned Geology Walks and let your imagination rip as we journey back in time. This year there are three to choose from: the 'usual' one to the east of the car park, a longer ramble to the west towards Beeston and a third introduced in 2014 to the wild cliffs of Sidestrand and Trimingham.
Whatever the weather we shall find lots to interest us and due to the local microclimate - or is it the tides? - we are often miraculously blessed with fine weather on our geology walks.
There will be no jargon, so the walks are suitable for everyone over 8 years old. We won't walk too far (1.1 km and back on Walk 1, 2.5 km and back on Walk 2, 2.6 km and back on walk 3) but we cover an enormous span of time and we will transport you to lost worlds that have been rediscovered through the wonders of geological science. Find out about our world of contrasts - variously, a greenhouse world and an ice house world, with rising and falling sea-levels, waxing and waning forests and ice-sheets. See the river deposits that tell us about the time when Norfolk was 'big game' country. See the glacial deposits from when Norfolk resembled the Arctic. Stand on an ancient sea bed. Find out how the lumps and bumps in the landscape came to be that way they are.
Children over 8 are welcome but don't let that put adults off; there are seldom a lot of children and they are always well behaved.
Thanks from a cub pack:
"Martin - just a quick note to thank you ever so much for your time yesterday. It was very much the ’icing on the cake’ of a super weekend that we all had. It was a fascinating and truly interesting talk/walk and the cubs (and the leaders!) enjoyed it immensely, and learnt so much too! Thank you once again and I hope our paths cross again. I will forward your details (and our testimonial) onto other clubs in the area." Chill, 1st Foxton Cubs
Walk 1: Eastern walk on West Runton beach to Wood Hill
We don't walk too far (1.1 km and back) but we shall journey through 13.7 billion years of geological time, following a timeline along the beach from the Big Bang to the present day. You will appreciate how our dynamic world has changed and evolved, as illustrated by the rocks and fossils on West Runton beach. See yourself from a geological perspective. You can
- gaze over Doggerland - a whole Mesolithic landscape, drowned 8000 years ago by the rising North Sea
- imagine being under a giant Ice Age glacier 450,000 years ago,
- examine the bed of a 70 million year-old subtropical sea, when dinosaurs were alive and
- pay your respects at the grave of the 700,000 year-old West Runton elephant when Norfolk was 'big game' country.
There are lots of different rocks to see and stories to tell, including how flint was formed and the origin of those funny giant flints with a hole right through them. See the 18th century dated 'Sharman Cutler's Stone'. Have your finds identified. Put your questions to an expert.
There is a handout to accompany this walk. Here is a link to the fieldguide for the West Runton to Cromer section.
***NEW in 2013*** Walk 2: Western ramble on West Runton beach and up Beeston Bump
By way of a change introduced for the 2013 season some of the Runton walks turn left and go on a longer ramble (3 miles) along the beach to Beeston Bump. Along the way we shall see the increasing style of glacial deformation as we go westwards, interpreted as moving towards the edge of a giant icesheet to the west. We shall also climb up the cliff (53 steps) and then up Beeston Hill and take in the vista of the Cromer Ridge, the highest topographic feature in the county Norfolk and another legacy of the Ice Age. Along the way she shall discuss glaciation, causes and effects; the Chalk and the formation of flint; the biodiversity of the near-shore 'Chalf reef'; Doggerland; far-travelled erratics; cliff erosion and more.
There is a handout to accompany this walk. Here is a link to the fieldguide for the West Runton to Beeston section.
***NEW in 2014*** Walk 3: Sidestrand-Trimingham coastal section
Recent changes to the beach access east of Overstrand mean it is now feasible to offer a more challenging walk to see the spectacular cliff section along the Sidestrand and Trimingham coast. Be warned, there are no facilities, no toilets, poor telecommunications and the cliffs are steep and high. If you have health issues such as difficulty walking or climbing, this walk isn't for you. But if you are able, this is perhaps the most rewarding geological section on the Norfolk coast. Expect to see nature in the raw as the sea cuts through the Cromer Ridge, exposing glaciotectonic Chalk rafts, folded glacial lake sediments, tills and outwash. There are also the Cromer Forest-bed and Wroxham Crag and the White Chalk in the shore platform and diverse beach material to search. The overall length of the walk is 3.20 miles (5.04 km) for the round trip and the cliff is 50m high; we park at the top and walk down a roadway. We are more exposed to the elements here, so it is especially important to wear the correct clothing and footware please.
There is a handout to accompany this walk. Here is a link to the fieldguide for the Sidestrand-Trimingham section.
Geology Walks in 2014
|April 20*||Easter Sun||West Runton east to Wood Hill||1.30pm-4pm||Easy beach walk||Book it|
|May 15||Thu||Sidestrand-Trimingham||1.30pm-4pm||More challenging||Book it|
|June 1||Sun||West Runton west to Beeston Hill||1.30pm-4pm||Hill climb+steps+beach||Book it|
|June 28||Sat||West Runton east to Wood Hill||1.30pm-4pm||Easy beach walk||Book it|
|July 13||Sun||Sidestrand-Trimingham||1.30pm-4pm||More challenging||Book it|
|July 29||Tue||West Runton east to Wood Hill||1.30pm-4pm||Easy beach walk||Book it|
|August 12||Tue||West Runton west to Beeston Hill||1.30pm-4pm||Hill climb+steps+beach||Book it|
|August 27||Wed||West Runton east to Wood Hill||1.30pm-4pm||Easy beach walk||Book it|
|Sept 10||Wed||Sidestrand-Trimingham||1.30pm-4pm||More challenging||Book it|
|October 27||Mon||West Runton east to Wood Hill||1.30pm-4pm||Easy beach walk||Book it|
|Nov 25||Tue||Sidestrand-Trimingham||1.30pm-4pm||More challenging||Book it|
These dates are provisional and should be confirmed when you make a booking. In the event of bad weather the leader will always turn up at the starting point.
* alteration from previously advertised date, Easter Monday
Tickets are purchased on the day, £5.00 adults, £3.00 children and includes a b/w handout (which you can download in colour from this site). Booking is important.
Please email The Northfolk Project to book your place (preferred method), or call
01263 513992 (or mobile 07887 389804)
and tell us your name, the date of the walk, how many walkers and your mobile, telephone number or email address. Your mobile number is really handy to contact you in case of a last minute problem.
See below for the meeting places.
Please come adequately dressed. The beach is rocky and wet in places, so please wear boots or at least very stout shoes. Wellies are excellent, so you can walk anywhere with impunity. Wear clothing suitable for any weather (be that rain, wind or shine), waterproofs, a hat is always a good idea and a brolly is really cool if rain is forecast (you stay dry while all around are getting damp). Do bring some refreshment or a bottle of water as the walk lasts two and a half hours or more. Do wrap up well; some people come without adequate coats and hats. It can be chilly on the beach, even in summer and we want you to enjoy yourself, not shiver. In our experience dogs don't understand the geology, they can get bored and there are often other dogs on the beach to get them excited, so we recommend you don't bring them.
West Runton meeting place
For the West Runton walks (east and west) please assemble in the car park at the bottom of Water Lane at 1.15. The cafe proprietor levies a small charge in the season. If there is no attendant, please purchase a parking ticket at the Seaview Cafe. Come at 1.15 for a 1.30pm start.
Overstrand meeting place (Sidestrand-Trimingham walk)For the Sidestrand-Trimingham Walk the meeting point is at the cliff top, in Clifton Way at the east of Overstrand. Turn off the Mundesley Road into Coast Road and this leads to Clifton Way. There is parking on the street or a large car park in Paul's Lane on the west side of Overstrand. Come at 1.15 for a 1.30pm start. There is an excellent Cliff Top Cafe in Cliff Road, Overstrand.
Geological societies, special interest groups, schools and colleges: do you need a leader for a field trip? Contact me to discuss your requirements. I can design itineraries, arrange accommodation and organise transport.
Here is a report from the Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society (Section 'C' - Geology).
Another report from Aylsham Wildlife Group.
Handouts in colour
Follow up or preview
Visit the West Runton - East Runton page in my Fieldguide to North Norfolk to make a virtual visit to West Runton either to preview a walk or to recap when you get home.
Newspaper articles online
Eastern Daily Press, EDP Sunday, Saturday 2 July 2011: West Runton Geology Walks photo gallery
Eastern Daily Press, Wednesday 29 June 2011: Step back in time at West Runton.
North Norfolk News, Thursday 17 February 2011: Ancient creatures in your living room
Simple A4 handouts by Martin Warren
Live webcam: check the tide and weather conditions at Cromer right now
Geological Society of Norfolk
Monthly meetings - field trips in the summer, indoor meetings in the winter. For amateurs and professionals alike. If you enjoy geology, join the Geological Society of Norfolk. Website: www.norfolkgeology.co.uk
For a very good overview of the geological riches that we have to celebrate in Norfolk, see this PDF document: Norfolk's Earth Heritage - valuing our geodiversity
Area of Outstand Natural Beauty (OANB)
Tim Holt-Wilson has produced some very accessible guides to the Geological Landscapes of the Norfolk Coast
See also: UK Fossils website.
North Norfolk District Council produces resources for researchers and students on the topics of coastal erosion and coastal management:
NNDC Education page