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Happisburgh August 19 2009

 

North Norfolk and Happisburgh Index

 

www.happisburgh.org.uk

 

Visit to the tower of Happisburgh Church

 

 

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I only counted 131 of the 133 steps to the top of the church tower, but by the end I was not a well person! The climb is steep and the winding corkscrew narrow, at least for some of us! The rewards were, however, ample. On a fine and sunny day the views over the village, and inland were very pleasing ...

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... whilst the sight of the eroding coast to the south rapid the effort with large dividends. These shots at low water illustrate well the crenulations of 'Happisburgh Bay' and the void up of sediments seawards to meet the offshore rock reefs at Sea Palling. The iniquities of variation in coastal protection also show well; Cart Gap and Sea Palling are defended fully, Happisburgh 'enjoys' 'managed-retreat'.

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A slice of English country life, from the pub through the caravan park ... to the row of houses destined to be lost to the sea in the next 18 months onwards.

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Happisburgh has high levels of residential tourism during the summer, and on this summer weekend there were additional touring caravans and tents on the caravan field . The right-hand shot might be thought of as  one of the more lucrative Norfolk crops!

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To the north are the settlements of Walcott and Bacton, where North Sea Gas comes ashore and the new interconnector links with Europe. Beyond is Mundesley and then Trimingham, where a radar dome is sited.

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Cart Gap to Happisburgh along the beach

 

 

 

 

The new lifeboat ramp at Cart Gap.

 

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Elements of coastal protection at Cart Gap; the sea wall and stabilising concrete honeycomb, left and well-maintained sea walls and groynes, right. The political will to maintain these defences is by far the most important element, however .. and might be represented by the Environment Agency surveyor in the centre.

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A wide beach in front of a concrete sea wall, behind which are light soils, essentially fine sand ... and the same materials as is washed out of the cliffs to the north.

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The outflanking of the steel-piling defences at the northern end of the Cart Gap sea wall has been arrested, to a degree, by a line of rock armour.

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The wide beach, at a very low tide , of Happisburgh Bay.

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Looking  a little like a Spiderman's outfit, the sea has scoured attractive curves into this fallen brickwork on the foreshore.

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Closer to Happisburgh the beach has developed fluted cusps and, further on, is reduced to the clay basement, with its own low-water drainage pattern.

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Evidence that the tides have not brought waves to the base of the cliff over the summer is provided by modest quantities of new vegetation at the top of the foreshore, left. Defences of rock armour are left high and dry at this time, but their time will come!

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The debris from the scaffolding pole headland, now almost removed, lies downstream on the beach, as does the sad remains of isolated rock armour and the broken revetments.

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Mostly still anchored in concrete, the scaffolding poles remain as the most unexpectedly effective sea defences seen at Happisburgh. Now isolated from the cliff by open beach, their role will be increasingly reduced.

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The current state of the cliff at the end of Beach Road, Happisburgh. Even the quiet times since my last visit in the spring, and the vegetation indicates a temporary halt to erosion here, will not same the properties behind, as the slope will find its angle of repose. However, future storms will make this academic.

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Isolated rock armour and the remains of sheet piling in front of Beach Road.

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Southwards along the cliffs towards Cart Gap

 

 

The view to the north, where defences are relatively intact, are contrasted to the south, where the defences have been abandoned, including the lifeboat launching ramp, right.

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Views from the track next to the last houses of Sea Road. To left and right are shots of the end of the gardens, already eaten into by cliff falls.

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Beach Road from the northern end of the bay, left, and, centre, the gullied cliff top in the same area. The remains of the curious smoke pattern in the right-hand shot were the 'Red Arrows performing at Cromer!

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Scenes looking northwards towards the lighthouse and Happisburgh generally. Both pill-box and lighthouse look noticeably nearer the cliff top this visit.

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Some of last year's crop seems to have survived, or re-grown, between the new track and the cliff top. The width of the beach is impressive, but it is flat and offers little protection to the cliffs during the highest tides, of course.

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Embayments along the new bay which, amongst all the other dangers, is under attack from people carving steps into it. This was mentioned by the Environment Agency men, and given short shrift by me. Later, however, two lads with full-size shovels were cutting a path to the top. I told them off!

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Birds also attack the cliffs unknowingly; in this case probably Sand Martins.

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New rock armour joins old at 'Crisis Corner' north of Cart Gap. The original rip-rap looks decidedly weather-worn, whilst the new will probably struggle to be high enough to prevent undercutting by swirling seas at high tide ... as happened at Bawdsey until the job was done properly and a geotextile barrier used to underpin the rocks.

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A team of surveyors from the Environment Agency were using their GPS kit to map the cliff top and beach levels. Results might be obtained from their Peterborough office, I was told.

   

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Norfolk Happisburgh Beach Road Cart Gap Sea Palling coast erosion defences neglect revetments rip rap rock armour sheet piling groynes beaches rock reefs sand dunes marram grass lighthouse sea walls lifeboat station church Environment Agency survey beach cusps bricks

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