The cromer ridge
You do wonder if Noel Coward had ever visited the county when he wrote in his play Private Lives: ‘Very flat, Norfolk’. Anyone who has walked or cycled on the Cromer Ridge will know otherwise!
The ridge is the highest area of East Anglia at over 100 metres, is 8.7 miles long, and is characterised by its irregular and undulating wooded topography and substantial areas of heather in the west. Sunken lanes, caused by water erosion, are another characteristic of the ridge.
The tallest point of the ridge is 103 metres behind West Runton at Beacon Hill, otherwise known as Roman Camp.
When the ice age was at its zenith, one third of the world was covered in ice and much of Great Britain was hidden under vast glaciers.
The glaciers and ice sheets moved huge amounts of debris, ranging from boulders to fine rock particles, and as the ice melted this rock debris, known as till or boulder clay, was deposited, forming new landscapes. That’s how the Cromer ridge came to be – the result of a terminal moraine, the furthest advance of a glacier before it lost momentum and the material dredged up from what is now the North Sea poured out to form what we see today.
In fact, Norfolk is underlain by a bedrock of chalk, as demonstrated by the area’s chalk streams and chalk reef.
The eastern part of the ridge is a push moraine, best seen at Overstrand, which has a 60 metre cross-section showing spectacular ‘rafts’ of chalk, pushed into position by glacial movement.
The western part of the ridge is composed of outwash sands and gravels deposited by rivers at the glacier edge, best seen at Telegraph Hill at Kelling Heath where you get a spectacular panorama of the coast. From the viewpoint you can see a steep northward-facing slope which would have been the glacier margin. There’s also a series of circular hills known as kames, most famously Beeston Bump, steep-sided mounds of sand and gravel deposited by the melting ice sheet.
For more fabulous views of the coast on the ridge visit the National Trust-run Sheringham Park, designed by Humphry Repton.