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Happisburgh  25 May 2011

 

North Norfolk and Happisburgh Index

 

www.happisburgh.org.uk

 

 

The beach to the north of the terraced houses in Beach Road (a track gives access, blocked by steel-mesh fencing) looked not dissimilar to my last visit, save for a sign  by the car park indicating the beach defences, now reduced to impotence, would gradually be removed.

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Beach Road looking forlorn, with its 'Road Ahead Closed' sign. Cliff retreat behind the teahouse has been limited.

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The security fencing has probably been pushed over next to the terraced houses; here showing the state of the beach and its setting, with respect to the lighthouse.

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Only recently evacuated, the houses appear faded but not derelict; a condition that will surely follow unless the properties are demolished.

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Looking north from the outlier, across the backs of the two remaining bungalows (one sturdily occupied) towards the church and the old and new beach defences just south of the car park and Coastguard station.

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The most southerly of the two bungalows has been evacuated, left, leaving the remains of the promontory, centre, looking out over the mangled and rusting steel pipes that protected this spot for several years. On the right is a view looking southwards over 'Happisburgh Bay', now being re-modelled by tide and currents.

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The bright green netting is in place to prevent Sand Martins from nesting in an area scheduled to be made into a new beach access spot.

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The top of the cliff is retreating steadily, and accelerated by this gully system, centre.

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Sand has built up at the base of the cliffs in the northern reaches of the bay, and some vegetation has colonised the deposits.

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In the centre shot a surveying stud remains, but for how long?

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Sharp embayments now mark the centre section of the bay, where the sand is less in evidence and the clay basement is the limiting factor on erosion rates. On the right the sea defences are themselves protected by effective rip-rap.

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The view north towards  Happisburgh from the end of the defences at Cart Gap. Here, the sandy beach is wider and seems to be accumulating against the rip-rap.

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To access the beach a short walk back along the cliffs leads to cut steps and a ramp.

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Although sand has accumulated to the south, centre, a coarser mix of sand and shingle has been eroded in sharp breaks of slope to the north, leaving a back channel and clay promontories.

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Sand, clay and sea!

 

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The back channel at low tide, left and right. In the centre is the sand cliff with the Moon behind it!

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Beach lowering has rendered the profile into a lagoon and beach bar, cutting down into the clay, left, and infilling its mouth with shingle, right.

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The beach has been graded into having its coarser material covering the berm crest line, as well as the lagoon channel .. and finer material has been driven back to the foot of the cliffs, from whence it came!

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The bend in the coastline, originally marking the end of the revetment defences, is marked now by rip-rap as well as old steel pipes.

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The promontory still stands, just! Now this corner has space enough to drive vehicles between the cliff and the rip-rap.

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The view to Beach Villas is largely unchanged, left and right, but there has been recession towards the buildings just south of the Coastguard Station.

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Recent falls of debris  are evident, centre, onto the clay layer and the loss of buildings (if they are not demolished beforehand) will be a market of the erosive process. I am surprised these buildings have not been required to be demolished; I am sure Beach villas will be!

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There seems to be less beach debris towards the old beach access until....

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... the way is blocked by a confusion of concrete sea wall sections and steel pilings, together with massive concrete from the old slipway! You have to pick your way past, which might be tricky at high water, before emerging on the northern, beach steps, side of the obstruction.

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Overall, the revetments continue to be degraded, and their impending removal will not impair coastal defences at all - here, at least. The loss of an eyesore, although a bleakly photogenic one, must encourage visitors to enjoy the beach. That leaves the question as to how will the very existence of the beach will be maintained, in order that people might enjoy it?

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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

 

North Norfolk and Happisburgh Index

 

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