Archive for June, 2006

Precarious beauty

With its broad, empty beaches, wide open skies, and tidal salt marshes and reedbeds which provide a home for some of Britain’s rarest wildlife, the North Norfolk coast is a special but threatened place. Martyn Oliver explores.

The first thing that strikes the visitor to North Norfolk is how empty it is. The coastal towns and villages with their reddish-brown stone houses, often substantial and Dutch-inspired, seem to echo a quieter, more peaceful time, a time before the roar of traffic, a time characterised instead by the catcalls of gulls and the ever-present background rattle of sail-shrouds against masts.

This reflects a paradox, a change in the national consciousness: fifty years or so ago, and especially during the first week or two of August when the hosiery mills and shoe factories of the Midlands had their annual shutdown, the whole of the East Coast from Skegness and Mablethorpe in Lincolnshire to Great Yarmouth and Caister in Norfolk would be thronged with trainloads and coachloads of holidaymakers. Now, except for the resorts of Hunstanton, Wells and Cromer, the North Norfolk coastline is more often than not deserted.

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