Route details, maps, pubs, features, local history and folklore for a wide variety of walks focusing primarily on Norfolk and Suffolk

Sunday, 16 November 2014

A Walk to Brancaster Beach

Brancaster Beach

A 3 mile walk out to Brancaster Beach returning across the marsh to Titchwell

Although not included in the official Norfolk Coast Path route, this simple walk is a well worth excursion to witness the expanse of sand and dune as well as a petrified forest and an old wreck. Always be mindful of tide conditions and particularly do not attempt to get across to the wreck which lies across the Harbour channel.

Brancaster Beach Walk - Essential Information

Walk Statistics:

Start point
BrancasterView in OS Map | View in Google Map
End Point
TitchwellView in OS Map | View in Google Map
Total Walk distance
3 miles
Walk difficulty
Easy
Terrain
Footpaths, beach and track
Obstacles
The beach area is very flat and as such the tide moves at a fast rate. One should always take note of the tide times and never venture out to the wreck.

Accommodation:

Woodhill Park CampsiteView in OS Map | View in Google Map
Website
Description
Woodhill Park Campsite, Runton

Walk Data

Date of Walk
2013-09-19
Walk Time
11:30 to 13:00
Walkers
Griffmonster, Kat
Weather Conditions
Overcast and cool

Walk Notes

Between Brancaster and Thornham the Norfolk Coast Path takes to the hills to avoid the private ground of Titchwell Marsh Nature Reserve. Although, on clear days, this inland route offers some spectacular views across The Wash with Lincolnshire clearly visible, it does miss the ethos of a coast path. There is no public access across the marsh to Thornham but there are footpaths that enable walkers to get from Brancaster through to Titchwell from where Chalkpit Road enables access back to the Coast Path.

Brancaster Beach is reached via the road or the raised footpath. One should note that spring tides can flood the road, as it had on this occasion, and the footpath is the recommended method of access. The vast expanse of beach sits in front of the clubhouse for the Royal West Norfolk Golf Club, protected by granite boulders that have armoured the edge of the dunes in recent times. The beach is notable for having the wreck of the SS Vina. To see the wreck one needs to walk eastwards to the Brancaster Harbour channel and it sits on the sandbank on the far side of the channel. Do not attempt to cross this water, as although it is possible, the strong currents and tide movements catch many people out each year. The result is a rescue attempt from the lifeboat or RAF helicopter and in the worse case scenario fatalities have occurred when people attempt to get back and get caught by the strong currents.

On the dunes there are a couple of WWII pillboxes, part of the fortifications put in place in 1940, most of which have been consumed by the sand of the dunes. The beach was used as a training ground for the D-day landings due to its similarity with some of the proposed landing beaches in Normandy.

Another marvel to be seen at low tide are the remains of a petrified forest that once existed many thousands of years ago when Britain was linked to mainland Europe and the North Sea did not exist. At this time in history, the area was covered with dense oak forests and reminders are often found in the petrified roots being washed up on the shore. The forest remains can be found about three quarters of a mile out from the clubhouse where the beach has a distinctive material similar to compacted peat.

Return from the beach is across the marsh, and on this occasion, due to the spring tide, one had to pick ones route carefully after the marsh had flooded and an expanse of water and mud still remained. Titchwell church, dedicated to St Mary, stands prominently above the marsh with its distinctive spirelet. The path emerges on the coast road to the west of the village, along which the pavement leads to the junction with Church Lane where an ancient cross stands.

This route can be included as part of the North Norfolk Coast Path returning to the official path by walking up Chalkpit Road or one can either make it into a circular route returning back to Brancaster via the pavement alongside the coast road or the Coasthopper bus which provides a convenient link between the two villages.

Titchwells only pub, the 18th century Three Horseshoes unfortunately closed its doors in 2001 and has since been converted into holiday apartments. The present building, named Three Horseshoes Cottage, can still be seen on the right hand side of the road heading eastwards, adjacent to the bus stop. The Manor Hotel still exists as a going concern and is located 300 yards west of the cross. Although principally a hotel, it nonetheless welcomes non residents to dine and drink in the bar.

Titchwell church of St Mary
Titchwell church of St Mary

Directions

An excursion from the official route of the Norfolk Coast Path to Brancaster Beach

Leave Brancaster village by way of Broad Lane that leads down the westward side of the church. just before the lane heads out towards the beach and almost opposite the footpath for the Norfolk Coast Path to Burnham Deepdale, take the narrow lane on the left. Just past the buildings on the right is the starting point to the footpath to the beach. This soon returns to alongside the road on a raised embankment all the way through to the beach car park. Continue onto th sandy beach and head eastwards. Keep to the dune edge and where the dunes turn landward take the footpath across them. Keep to the well used path diagonally across the marsh. This will meet a flood defence bank. One route leads back to the car park on the left. Ignore this and keep straight ahead following the path along the top of the embankment as it bends around to the right then sharply turns left. This eventually turns into a track and leads out onto the main A149 Coast Road. A pavement leads into Titchwell village on the right.

The village cross is located on the junction with Church Lane and the church is at the bottom of this road. The MAnor Hotel can be found by continuing through the village and is located on the left, set back from the road. Return to the coast path can be found by heading up Chalkpit Road, opposite the cross, and following this for nearly 1 mile until where the Coast Path crosses the lane.

Titchwell marshTitchwell Cross
On the left Titchwell marsh; On the right Titchwell Cross

Pubs

Manor Hotel, Titchwell View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Address
Main Road, Titchwell
Website

This building was originally a Victorian farmhouse that was converted into a restaurant and hotel in the mid 1960's. During this period it had an on-licence which only permitted residents or diners to be served drinks and consequently there was no public bar. This all changed in 1973 when the premises was damaged by fire and after renovation it reopened with its name changed to the Pheonix Restaurant which was granted a full licence. The hotel reverted to its original name when the present owners Margaret and Ian Snaith took ownership in 1988.

The current hotel boast 27 rooms with views across the marshes to the North Sea. The hotel has earned a renowned reputation for its innovative and modern European food for which it has won numerous prestigious awards. There is public bar where non residents can sit and have a drink. Ales served are Woodfordes Wherry and Greene King Abbot ale.

Review

Not visited on this occasion

Entrance to Brancaster Beach
Entrance to Brancaster Beach

Features

Titchwell CrossView in OS Map | View in Google Map

At the head of Church Lane, alongside the coast road and mounted atop an earthen mound is Titchwell Cross. This ancient monument is composed of a brick base with a stone pedestal on which stands an 8 sided shaft topped with a 8 sided bulbous head. The origins of the cross are uncertain but it is thought to be medieval, possibly dating from around the 15th century.

Its original use of the cross is also uncertain with propositions that it may have been a preaching place, thereafter becoming a meeting or market place.

References

Brancaster Ship WreckView in OS Map | View in Google Map

one attraction to Brancaster Beach is that of the wreck of SS Vina which is visible at low tide. Its specific location is to the east and on the saandbank across the channel that makes up Brancaster Harbour making it potentially hazardous to get to.

Built in 1894 this cargo ship worked the trade routes between the East Coast ports of England and the Baltic States. When WWII broke out she was put into service as a block Ship. These were vessels were filled with concrete and explosives and on the imminent invasion of a Nazi fleet would have been blown up and sunk to prevent access to vital sea installations, in the SS Vina case it was to defned Great Yarmouth harbour.

When the threat of invasion receded the ship was towed to Brancaster where she was used as target practice for the RAF in preparation for the D-day landings of Normandy in 1944. During this period a storm on 20th August 1944 pushed the ship landward where she ran aground. Despite numerous efforts to remove the wreck which posed a danger to shipping she has stubbornly remained in place and has become the target of sightseers and holiday makers. Despite warning signs people persist in walking out to the wreck and get caught out by the fast flowing tide and each year there are numerous rescues that have to be performed by local lifeboats and RAF rescue helicopters.

References
Millions of razor shells on Brancaster Beach
Millions of razor shells on Brancaster Beach

Images

Below are a selection of images taken from from the photo album for this walk. Feel free to browse through these or click on any image to view a larger version in the Gallery.

Click on an image below to view the Image Gallery

Maps

Below is the route depicted on the OpenStreetMap, Ordnance Survey Map and Google Map. Links to full page versions are found in the Essential Information

Summary of Document Changes

Last Updated: ... 2017-02-05

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