West Runton, Beacon Hill, and Beeston Bump

Route Summary:

A walk in North Norfolk that takes in the highest point of the county in Beacon Hill as well as Beeston Bump, a stretch of scenic coastline, and a hidden trig point thrown in for good measure

Route Information

  • Start: Camp Ln, West Runton, Cromer NR27 9ND, UK
  • Date:17-09-2017
  • GPX File: Download

Other POI: The Roman Camp, Calves Well Lane, Beeston Regis Heath, Norfolk Gravel Quarry, Marlpit Plantation, Old Wood, Sheringham Wood, Sheringham Common, Beeston Regis Common, Norfolk Coast Path, West Runton Beach, Water Lane, Incleborough Hill, Holgate Lane, Edward's Plantation

Route Description:

This was a walk that I originally devised as something for me and the kids to do at the weekend. It was also a little challenge on getting as many hills and trig points into a single Norfolk walk as possible. The walk started in West Runton at the Beacon Hill car park in front of the caravan park. At 105m high, Beacon Hill is Norfolks official highest point and therefore is classified as a County Top in the British Database of Hills. The hill is part of the Cromer Ridge which runs for 9 miles along the North Norfolk coast and was formed by glaciers dredging up and depositing material from the North Sea. The Ordnance Survey map still labels the site as a Roman Camp, however there is no evidence that this was ever the case. In fact, it’s thought that the roman camp term was coined in the 19th century by local horse-drawn cab drivers in order to make the area sound more appealing to tourists. There are earthworks in evidence at the site, but this is the result of an ancient signal station and not a roman camp. There most likely was a beacon on this hill summit during the 16th century Spanish Armada and 17th-century Dutch invasions, hence the name. Anyway, enough about Beacon Hill, let’s move on…

At the top of Beacon Hill
At the top of Beacon Hill

We descended the forested hillside until we arrived at the forest edge. The route then took us westwards, following the line of the forest edge along Calves Well Lane. Once we arrived at a junction of footpaths, we took the left turn and headed up through Beeston Regis Heath until arriving at an area that sits between the quarry and Row Heath. I couldn’t actually see into the quarry but allowed my kids to take a look after I’d lifted them over the barbed wire fence. Responsible parenting at it’s finest! They reported back that, as expected, the quarry didn’t look particularly spectacular and looked like a big sand pit. The quarry is actually owned by Norfolk Gravel, a local supplier of aggregates and building materials.

The bottom of Beacon Hill
The bottom of Beacon Hill
Heading towards Beeston Regis
Heading towards Beeston Regis
The view from Calves Well Lane
The view from Calves Well Lane
National Trust sign for Beeston Regis Heath
National Trust sign for Beeston Regis Heath
Following the line of the quarry
Following the line of the quarry

Once past the quarry, we emerged onto the A148, Holt Road. Getting to the next place on the route, unfortunately, meant walking a little distance down this extremely busy road. It’s quite unnerving having cars flying by at 80mph whilst you have nothing more than a two-foot wide grass verge to walk on. After a short while, we managed to cross to a wooded area called Marlpit Plantation.

It was here where I would find one of two trig points that I’d planned for the day. In the north, trig points would usually be found on hill summits or high moorland. There’s an absence of both here and so trig bagging isn’t such an exciting pastime. Could be worse… In Cambridgeshire, it’s so depressingly flat that they have a trig point that’s actually 1 metre below sea level. Nevertheless, it’s better than nothing and so off we went into the pathless forest, searching for a trig pillar in the undergrowth. After much back and forth, wandering aimlessly around the rough area marked on the map, we eventually located it and took the compulsory trig pillar photos.

Dabbing on a trig pillar
Dabbing on a trig pillar
Another pose on East Beckham trig pillar
Another pose on East Beckham trig pillar

We left Marlpit Plantation, crossed back over the road, and entered Old Wood and Sheringham Wood (possibly renamed Pretty Corner Woods). It was a nice little stroll and we simply followed the track north until we emerged onto the Woodland Rise road. We continued north along this road for a short distance before taking a footpath on the right that led across the pleasant Beeston Regis Common. Beeston Regis Common was made a Site of Special Scientific Interest back in the year 2000. According to the Wikipedia article, Forty species of rare flowering plants, and fourteen species of British orchids have been recorded on the common due to its special soil conditions. Twenty-six species of butterfly have been regularly recorded, including green hairstreak, brown argus and Essex skipper. Kingfisher and heron are also visitors to the pond, and no fewer than 19 species of dragonfly/damselfly have been observed. Foxes, muntjac deer, adders, slowworms and common lizards can also be found on the common.

Entrance to Old Wood
Entrance to Old Wood
More silliness with a wooden sculpture
More silliness with a wooden sculpture
Sheringham Wood (Pretty Corner Woods)
Sheringham Wood (Pretty Corner Woods)
Looking for life in the stream (unsuccessfully)
Looking for life in the stream (unsuccessfully)
Pond on Beeston Regis Common
Pond on Beeston Regis Common

After leaving the common, we turned left and headed down Cromer Road for a hundred yards before turning right onto Curtis Lane. This would take us all the way to the coastline. Beeston Bump was clearly visible to our right. We climbed the steps and had more photos taken at the trig point on its summit. The views here were a little more spectacular as they looked out over the beach and the North Sea.

Approaching Beeston Bump
Approaching Beeston Bump
Beeston Bump Trig pillar pose
Beeston Bump trig pillar pose
The view from the top of Beeston Bump
Looking towards West Runton from the summit

Here’s a little trivia, thanks to Wikipedia: Beeston Hill at present looks more like a cross-section of a hill as most of its seaward side has eroded away. Once upon a time, it was actually one of two hills that sat side by side, however one of these has completely eroded away now. The etching of Beeston Hills below, drawn around 1785 by an unknown artist, shows the two hills how they would have looked.

An etching of Beeston Hill from 1785
An etching of Beeston Hill from 1785

During World War II, Beeston Bump was the location for one of the Signals Intelligence collection sites, called Y-stations. There were several of these stations around the east coast and by triangulating the signals, the exact location of enemy vessels could be pinpointed. The remains of the Y-station remain on top of the hill.

There is a legend in East Anglia about a ghostly black hound from hell that roams the coast. It’s the size of a small horse and appears from the depths of Beeston Bump with malevolent flaming red eyes. The legend was recounted to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle whilst he was holidaying nearby in West Runton. It became the inspiration behind his Sherlock Holmes story, The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Once over the hill, we continued a little way along the top of the cliff before venturing down a set of steep steps to the beach. Paramoudras (locally known as Pot Stones) can be found on the beach here. No idea what they are? I didn’t either so here comes Wikipedia again to save the day: Pot Stones are flint nodules with a hollow centre and have the appearance of a doughnut. These flints are trace fossils of the burrows of an organism otherwise unknown except for these relics sometimes referred to as Bathicnus paramoudrae. Interesting, yes? Anyway, on we went along the beach, attempting to skim flat(ish) stones in the sea and failing miserably. Eventually, we arrived at the main beach access point at West Runton where we exited.

Walking down steps to the West Runton beach
Walking down steps to the beach
Strolling along West Runton beach
Strolling along the beach
West Runton beach
Getting a bit closer to the sea
Sea defences on West Runton beach
Sea defences on West Runton beach
Looking out to sea
Looking out to sea

We walked from the beach along Water Lane before taking a footpath on the left that crossed pastureland. At the end of the path, we turned right onto Cromer Road, and then left onto Station Road, crossing over the railway bridge with West Runton station down below. Once over the bridge, we took a left turn and walked past Incleboro Caravan Park, eventually arriving at the foot of Incleborough Hill itself. The last hill of the day!

Cattle grazing
Cattle grazing
A shortcut across pastureland
A shortcut across pastureland

At 79m, Incleborough certainly feels like a hill but doesn’t make it into the official database of British Hills for reasons unknown. It’s owned by the National Trust and was formed an awfully long time ago as a result of sand and gravel picked up by shifting glaciers, being deposited in a pile when those glaciers eventually thawed. Not unlike the whole Cromer ridge. The hill is covered in gorse although there are plenty of paths through it to prevent any difficulties. The view from the top is fantastic… a full panoramic view of the section of coast we’d just walked along, and the North Sea stretching out beyond complete with its wind turbines.

Entrance to Incleborough Hill
Entrance to Incleborough Hill
Climbing the steps to Incleborough Hill
Climbing the steps to the top
The view looking towards Beeston Bump from Incleborough Hill
The view looking towards Beeston Bump
View to the east from Incleborough Hill
And the view to the east from the top

We descended the hill on the east side, making our way down to a path. This path we then followed south-east until we arrived at a junction of tracks. We turned right and followed Holgate Lane as far as another junction. We decided it was best to take the most direct route back to the car at this point, and so we continued straight ahead over a field and then through a woodland area, called Edward’s Plantation according to the Ordnance Survey map or Brakey Dole according to Open StreetMap. Which one is right is anyone’s guess. The kids and I enjoyed this path through the woods and it was a nice way to finish the walk.

Walking through Edward's Plantation...
Walking through Edward’s Plantation…
Walking through Brakey Dole
…or is it Brakey Dole?

It was a great little walk that had lots of interest including hills, woodlands, and beaches. It was also evidence that there’s more to Norfolk than the Broads and a sprawling mass of flat crop fields.

Route Map
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