Happisburgh Norfolk (pronounced Haysbrough) is most well-known for its striking red and white lighthouse. But what a lot of people don’t know is that it also has a wonderful sandy and quite secluded beach.
Happisburgh has always had massive problems with coastal erosion, and the beach has come about after years of action by the sea and the wind. Over the last 15 years, the village has actually lost about 25 houses to the erosion. But it has left a beautiful and very unspoilt bay with amazing views of the incredibly picturesque lighthouse. A wonderfully empty Norfolk beach!
There’s a very good car park here with a pay and display machine, an excellent modern WC (!) as well as a play area for the children with wooden equipment.
The other excitement about the car park (a bit like my excitement of Wells beach car park!) is that you come face to face with this beautiful lighthouse.
Before walking down to the beach, I strongly suggest you take a little extra time and walk along the little worn path towards the lighthouse and amble around it. It’s well worth it. You don’t often get a chance to get up close to a lighthouse like this one.
It's one of those iconic shapes on the landscape that draws you in. It's just what you always grew up thinking a lighthouse should be.
It is open at various times of the year. You can find out about the history, the Open Days and much more here. It’s the oldest working lighthouse in Britain.
You can also walk along the cliff edge along the side of the field, but this looks as if it is becoming a bit precarious these days, you can see what I mean in the picture below. This is actually part of the Norfolk Coast Path, and as you walk the approach from Walcott to here you can feel your steps getting quicker and quicker! You can see the lighthouse from miles away, but as you get nearer, the pure excitement within is something you'll remember. It's such a stunning lighthouse.
Once you’ve marvelled at the lighthouse, then you can go and enjoy yourself on the beach! With a sandy ramp down to the beach, it’s a little tricky with pushchairs but can be done, and definitely much more difficult with a wheelchair.
Once you’re onto the beach though, you have it almost to yourself.
You can walk for miles on this beach, as far as Sea Palling if you wanted to so long as the tide is out! At the end of the south beach you reach Cart Gap, which is where the lifeboat is now stationed, having previously been at Happisburgh beach before all the coastal erosion.
Happisburgh beach hit the headlines in 2013 when, at low tide, a layer of sediment was exposed and revealed a set of footprints. At the time, 2 academics were researching the area and proclaimed that these footprints were the oldest known footprints in the world outside Africa.
Said to be 800,000 years old, this discovery, along with the discovery of the West Runton Mammoth, have now made the Norfolk Coastline a "Deep History Coast".
There were 50 footprints that were discovered, belonging to five adults and children who would have been making their way southwards.
Unfortunately, these footprints were washed away within 2 weeks of being discovered!
Don't forget that further North up the coast from this beach you have the very different beaches of Mundesley, Overstrand and Cromer.
This is definitely a wonderful dog friendly beach with no restrictions whatsoever which is great for all you dog lovers.
With this beach, it doesn’t really matter if the tide is in or out, it’s just is beautiful. And once on the beach, if you look back behind you over the cliffs you can see the lighthouse peeping over!
This isn’t any old beach, this is a beach that has some story to tell, and you’ll see what I mean when you visit it. You just hope that in years to come the erosion hasn't completely altered Happisburgh village and the beach too dramatically.
So if you’re looking for a quiet beach with something rather special, then Happisburgh beach is the one for you.