Centuries ago Cromer was actually a long way inland, but if North Norfolk's charm is in the fact it retains an air of being timeless, it's actually an area that's been relentlessly shaped and changed by natural elements.
By the 1880s the town was on the coast and with the advent of railways, it became a fashionable attraction for the Victorians and then Edwardians, who built a string of grand hotels on the seafront and a magnificent pier.
Cromer is famous for the eponymous and world-famous Cromer Crab – a fresh brown crab which you can find in many establishments throughout the town, in salads, sandwiches, dressed or in their shells. The reason Cromer's crabs are so tender and sweet is that they grow slowly on the chalk reef just off the coast.
The town doesn't have a harbour, so the fishing boats are hauled up on to the shingle by the cobblestoned Gangway. Nearby is the Henry Blogg Museum, named after the town's most distinguished lifeboatman, and close by is Cromer Pier which culminates in the historic Pavilion Theatre.
Above the family-friendly beach, you can explore the town's tight streets, the church of St Peter and St Paul with its wonderful stained glass and 160ft tower (the tallest in Norfolk), and the Cromer Museum where you can learn about the town's fishing, trading and seaside history - or just simply enjoy the peaceful mini-parks and gardens.
Two miles southwest of Cromer is the Jacobean Felbrigg Hall, run by the National Trust. The lovely limestone and brick façade of the main house has the skilfully carved inscription Gloria Deo in Excelsis, and the parklands are a delight to walk through.
From Cromer's Esplanade you can walk east towards Overstrand, or west to the large beaches of the Runtons (where elephant bone fossils have been found by beachcombers), and to the 200ft high Beeston Bump, beyond which is Cromer's sister coastal town of Sheringham, with its easy-going charm and The Mo, an enjoyable museum on the seafront. Close by is Sheringham Park, laid out by Humphrey Repton, one of England's most celebrated landscape gardeners, whose highlights include the rhododendron garden (best in May and June) and the Gazebo which has wonderful views over the coast.
The North Norfolk Railway, known locally as 'The Poppy Line', stretches 5 miles between Sheringham and Holt, with stops at Weybourne Heath and Kelling Halt, which gives access to Kelling Heath, a protected parcel of heathland covered with gorse, heather and bracken – and lots of rambling paths.