When you’re going to the coast you’ll probably want to escape the crowds, so we’ve found some stunning spots to visit where you’ll discover how time and the elements have helped shape this unique part of the UK.
And we know spitting is a disgusting habit, but we’ve got three fabulous spits that you’ll thoroughly enjoy.
The first of our three spits, all the result of longshore drift, is on the north Norfolk coast and is home to the country’s largest seal colony, which you can visit by boat from Morston.
Four miles long, the spit is still getting longer – between 1886 and 1925 it lengthened by 132 metres and is glacially moving towards the mainland by about one metre a year.
Blakeney Point became Norfolk’s first nature reserve in 1912 when it was taken over by the National Trust.
The highest point in all of East of England is to be found in the region’s most north-eastern tip.
As the last Ice Age ran out of steam around 10,000 years ago, a moving ice sheet called a terminal moraine deposited everything it had dredged up – clay, soil and flint – in a big pile that is now called the Cromer Ridge.
Along this stretch of high ground that runs behind the seashore you’ll get stunning views along the coast, particularly on the Quiet Lanes near Kelling Heath. Perfect for cycling, as our photo shows.
Imagine the day when the River Alde escaped to the sea at its namesake seaside town, Aldeburgh.
Over time longshore drift created Orford Ness, now 10 miles long and Europe’s longest vegetated shingle spit.
Once an Atomic Weapons Research Establishment, the spit is now a National Trust reserve.
To get close, visit Shingle Street or Orford, the latter which has a castle built by Henry II (well, we doubt it was actually him with bricks and mortar, but you know…) and unique polygonal keep.
A good way to enjoy the tranquil landscape behind the Ness is to walk along the estuary from Snape Maltings to Iken church.
Two roads in the village of Happisburgh in Norfolk end at a cliff edge, where tidal surges have taken away huge chunks of land over the years.
After one such surge in 2013, Natural History Museum and British Museums scientists noticed some recognizable shapes in the low tide estuary mud. Carbon dating and analysis showed them to be 850,000 year old human footprints, the earliest evidence of humans found outside the Great Rift Valley in Africa, where we came from.
You guessed it, the first tourists to come to the UK came to visit the East of England.
Stand on the cliffs facing the North Sea and imagine a day just a few thousand years ago when this spot was the last piece of land still linked to the Continent. Then head to The Hill House Inn.
This little hamlet with just a handful of homes on the Suffolk coast just south of Southwold is testament to the power of the tides and weather. Why? Because in Roman times the shoreline was more than a mile further out and in medieval times this was one of the largest and busiest ports in the entire country.
If you don’t believe us, then take a peek inside the museum where there’s a wonderful diorama of a huge port and town, now sadly all beneath the waves. That’s why Dunwich is Britain’s Atlantis. In Anglo Saxon times, the capital of East Anglia, but then in 1286 nature intervened when a three-day storm ravaged the mighty community and later storms took what remained.
The last of our spits and created in less than 2000 years! In Roman times, what is now Breydon Water estuary behind Great Yarmouth was over a mile wide and was guarded at its mouth by two forts, one in Caister and the other at Burgh Castle, which remains to this day, albeit dilapidated.
We can recommend the views over Halvergate Marshes, particularly at sunset, from Burgh Castle, and there’s a lovely circular walk from the church.
Alternatively, you can walk from Gt Yarmouth railway station to the Berney Arms High Mill, the tallest windpump on the Broads. Just imagine a time not long ago when all this land was under water.
Tidal creeks and saltmarsh at Stiffkey
Sandwiched between Wells-next-the-Sea and Cley-next-the-Sea is an otherworldly expanse of creeks and saltmarsh that can be enjoyed on the Norfolk Coast Path.
Why not walk east to Morston then Blakeney, gazing off to the horizon where you’ll be able to see the seals at the end of Blakeney Point. At any point, go back to the A149 coast road and get the brilliant Coasthopper back to Stiffkey and enjoy refreshments in The Red Lion.
Please, before you travel to the East of England, Know Before You Go – ensure places you want to visit are open, see if you have to pre-book. We’ve supplied click-throughs to attractions for you to check.