The Geography Department






Happisburgh 2004 


North Norfolk and Happisburgh Index




Photos taken on  16 May 2004



The cliff-top situation - going southwards



The Cliff Top Road has been substantially lost, its buildings abandoned and demolished and, by the looks of it, used to dispose of some topsoil.

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The state of the beach defences continue to deteriorate. the revetments fragment further and the line of rip rap is simply inadequate; it appears to be sinking into the sand! Further cliff retreat is in evidence everywhere, and is usually sand-led, slumping over the basement clays.

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The Cliff Top Road again, now minus housing, or any sign of life, except next to the car park.

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Views of the beach from above; a whole section of revetment has been removed by the sea an flung against the cliff, still relatively intact.

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Three views from the shrinking area of land seaward of the terraced houses. the centre shot is for future reference, whilst that on the right will not be repeatable for many days.

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The views of housing to the north from the promontory next to the last-but-one bungalow.


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These shots hopefully put the present situation into its context by including the lighthouse and the terraced houses.

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The end of the road (centre) and the attempt to prevent the sea from outflanking the row of bungalows and houses.

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The footpath has been eroded north and south of this spur.


The cliffs still show dampness after wet weather - sand over a clay bench.


A cliff fall, composed of both overlying sand and the clay base.

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Deep shelves have been formed where high tides and storm waves have overtopped the clay layers, stripping away the sands ... and arable soil.

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More of the cliffs of the new bay to the south of Happisburgh. recent falls are marked by the remaining, overhanging, vegetation.

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To the beach



Walking back to the beach access a last look at the southern end of the defences (left), the abandoned entrance to the beach ramp (centre) and on the right the RNLI building, camping field  and manor.

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The beach ramp has collapsed where the cliff underneath it has been undermined. It will be interesting to see how long the new access stairs will last before needing to be re-sited!

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The seaward en of the beach ramp is largely undamaged.


Caravans in the field next to the beach stairs, with the church behind.


Looking northwards from the new steps. Here the revetments have not failed, although some unrepaired damage is visible.

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North along the beach towards Ostend




The revetments north of Happisburgh have not stopped erosion of the cliffs, but will have slowed their retreat. Damaged revetments will probably mean the whole defence line will be compromised and fail at an accelerating rate.

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Where the revetments are essentially no more the waves will erode the cliffs with undiminished force, undermining a wartime pillbox *(centre) and bringing down cliffs fall (right) as well.

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South along the beach towards Cart Gap




Three views of the beach ramp from the beach. Large shattered lumps of concrete abound, including recurved sea wall sections.

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Three views of the tangle of debris on the beach; well-heads, revetments, steel sheet-piling and dumped topsoil.

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Some parts of the beach have become littered with concrete debris, as well as steel scaffolding poles ... but in-between a fine beach is available at low water!

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Two shots of 'Scaffolding Corner', and one of a fall in the clay layer. The proximity of the houses is striking.

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Three views of the clay benches, the most visible indicator of the differential erosion rates between sand and clay.

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The sand is fine-textured and easily winnowed by the wind.


A wide beach is evident at low tide.


Cliff-top vegetation will not live long on sands slumped here .. so all of this is recent.

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The steel piling remains intact, but the concrete blanket has collapsed as its base has been removed by erosion.


The outflanking of the Cart Gap defences from above.


The end of the line - Cart Gap towards Happisburgh.

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From Cart Gap towards Happisburgh

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Norfolk Happisburgh Beach Road coast erosion gullying defences neglect revetments rip rap groynes beaches lighthouse sea walls lifeboat station access leisure beach cusps mobile flows weathering mass movement


North Norfolk and Happisburgh Index