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

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Ale Trail - Mundesley to Cromer


A beach walk along the Norfolk Coast between Mundesley and Cromer including a clifftop stroll from Cromer to Overstrand.

This section of the Norfolk Coast can only be walked when the tide allows as high tide reaches the foot of the cliffs and is impassable at Overstrand. There is frequent erosion all along the route so the scenery changes from year to year. The beach is predominantly sand with numerous groynes that present frequent obstacles to get past - sometimes decaying steps assist getting over the groynes and sometimes, at low tide or with boots and socks off, it is possible to get around the end of some of the groynes. Mostly, it involves clambering as best as you can over these eroded, seaweed covered, mussel encrusted defences but that is half the fun of it! Although there is a cliff top path from Cromer to Overstrand, which has some outstanding views, beyond this there is no official right of way and a full circular walk would involve heading inland, using the Paston Way. However, a frequent bus service links Overstrand and Mundesley to make a good and easy days coast walking.

Cromer to Mundesley Walk - Essential Information

Walk Statistics:

  • Start location: Cromer 
  • End location: Mundesley 
  • Distance:   miles (  km)
  • Total Gain:   ft (  metre)
  • Total Descent:   ft (  metre)
  • Min Height:   ft (  metre)
  • Max Height:   ft (  metre)
  • Walk Time:  
  • Walk type: Linear
  • Walk Grade: Easy
  • Terrain:


The following maps and services can assist in navigating this route. There are links to printed maps and links to downloadable GPX route data for importing into navigational software and apps.



Woodhill Park CampsiteView in OS Map | View in Google Map
Located on the clifftops at East Runton, half way between Sheringham and Cromer, this highly recommended touring site is ideal for exploring North Norfolk with public transport available to many destinations from the entrance to the site.


Details of public transport that is required for the walk

Sanders Coaches - bus Service
Service Details
5/5A - Sanders Coaches Service 5/5A Holt Sheringham to Norwich via Mundesley and North Walsham

Route Verification Details

  • Date of Walk: 2011-07-18
  • Walk Time: 10:30 to 17:00
  • Walkers: Griffmonster, Kat
  • Weather Conditions: Started with rain showers but brightened up later in the day

Walk Notes

We started the walk from East Runton, walking through Cromer and onto Overstrand getting a good soaking in the process from the persistent showery rain. At Overstrand we sought shelter in the White Horse before taking the bus through to Mundesley where we could walk back to East Runton along the beach. This gave a total distance of something like 13 miles. We have walked this beach section on numerous occasions and it is always a pleasure to complete this - whether in boots or bare feet. The tide has to be right, particularly at Overstrand where the boulders and defences are a challenge to get past until the tide has receded sufficiently. The last time we had walked this, 2 years previously, there were plenty of places to get over the groynes, plus we walked most of the mileage in bare feet. This time we attempted to clamber over the groynes which presented a challenge at times but was good fun nonetheless. If you time this right is is possible to do a complete return journey before the tide cuts you off! Always consult the tide times though.

Broken and battered groynes
Broken and battered groynes


This is not quite a circular route. The inital stage from Cromer to Overstrand is across the clifftops. From here a bus service links Mundesley. Return is along the beach.

Follow the path up along the coast eastwards out of Cromer. This leads up the cliffs towards Happy Valley and past the lighthouse. Continue around the boundary of the golf course and eventually the it will come out at a small car park in Overstrand. Follow the road round, past the cafe and up to the t-junction. The White Horse pub is on the left and the bus stop for Mundesley is a few yards along the road on the right. The bus will drop you off adjacent to the park in Mundesley. Cut through the park and out onto the coast road. The Ship pub is just before the road bends to the right. A set of steps by the side of the opub leads down to the promenade and beach. Return is simply following the beach back. This is a 3-4 hour walk so check the tide times as there are few places to get back up from the beach.

Cromer LighthouseMundesley
On the left Cromer Lighthouse; On the right Mundesley


A fully detailed appraisal of Cromer pubs can be found at the excellent and informative Wandering Our World website.

The White Horse, Overstrand View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Image of pub
The White Horse, Overstrand

This AA awarded 4 star guest-house and hostelry offers eight individually furnished en-suite rooms, a first class restaurant serving top quality cuisine, an extensive wine list and a well stocked bar with guest local Norfolk ales. There is a tidy garden at the rear and a minimalist clean bar area. Guest Norfolk ales and a variety of food.


Good to see some guest ales on here including Cambridge brewery's Hobsons Choice. Very quiet on this particular day but an enjoyable pint.

The Ship Inn, Mundesley View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Image of pub
The Ship Inn, Mundesley

Set on the cliff top overlooking the North Sea, The Ship is over 200 years old though there is no exact date as to when it was built. Records do show that in 1796 the pub’s lease was sold by the Coltishall Brewery. A stone celebrating Queen Victoria's jubilee in 1887 can be found in the rear wall of the pub. Today the pub is a friendly hostelry offering a selection of local ales and food made from locally sourced ingredients.


The last time we visited the Ship, although it is not tied, it had turned into only offering a menagerie of bland Greene King brewed fake beers such as Morlands and Ruddles which I was very disappointed with. However on this visit, it would appear they have firmly turned circle with some fine offerings from both Green Jack and Woodfordes brewery's. The barman said the Green Jack Trawlerboys was a very popular drink to which I would wholeheartedly agree. Keep the good beer flowing Ship! An excellent, filling crayfish jacket potato was enjoyed here and I would happily dine here again.

Kings Head, Cromer View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Image of pub
Kings Head, Cromer

This early nineteenth century pub decorated in painted flint cobble with brick dressings was newly refurbished in 2011. It offers Woodfordes ale and the usual pub grub.


The Kings Head has been recently refurbished. The last time I set foot in this place was with a group of mates after completing the North Norfolk Coast Path for the first time. The place was not up to much then and on playing a game of pool we picked the cue which, unbeknown to us, was holding the radiator to the wall - we caught the radiator before it hit the floor! The refurbishment has certainly cleaned up the scruffy appearance since those days and a very pleasant pint of Wherry was had too.

Mundesley Beachhuts
Mundesley Beachhuts


Cromer LighthouseView in OS Map | View in Google Map

A lighthouse has occupied the cliff-top site at Foulness, just east of Cromer, since 1669. This was built to replace a light that was placed on top of the parish church. However, the cost of maintaining the lighthouse soon proved to be too great and economics forced the lighthouse to become merely a beacon and as such was marked on charts as 'a lighthouse but no fire kept in it'. Some time prior to 1792 Trinity House took charge of the lighthouse and fitted it with a flashing light after initially employing a permanent coal fire. Foulness, like much of this part of the coast, suffered constant erosion and finally, after many landslips, the lighthouse succumbed to the sea in 1866, prior to which a new lighthouse was already being built.

The present lighthouse, a white octagonal masonry tower, was built half a mile from the cliff edge and 275 feet above sea level and came into operation in 1833. Electricity was installed in 1958 to power the light and in June 1990 the lighthouse was converted to automatic operation which is monitored from the Trinity House Operation Control Centre at Harwich. As a consequence of automation the lighthouse keeper's cottage alongside the tower is now let out as holiday apartment although the property is still owned by Trinity House. The lighthouse tower is not open to the public but the area around the lighthouse is easily accessible.


OverstrandView in OS Map | View in Google Map

Overstrand was once a modest fishing station, with part of the fishing station being known as Beck Hythe. Beck Hythe has since been lost to the sea due to the ever continuing coastal erosion, as was a village nicknamed Understrand which also now lies beneath the waves. The area was nicknamed Poppyland in the late nineteenth century after a London journalist and travel writer named Clement Scott came to Overstrand. He dubbed the name of Poppyland in his numerous writings for the Daily Telegraph which aided publicity for the area and assisted in the coming of the railway when Overstrand secured a station on the Norfolk and Suffolk Joint Railway between Cromer and North Walsham which is now closed. The Overstrand biplane bomber was named after the village; being made at the nearby Boulton and Paul aircraft factory in the early 1930s

As with much of this part of Norfolks coast, there are tales of Black Shuck, the ghostly devil dog. At Overstrand the legend states that a Dane, a Saxon and Shuck the dog were inseparable friends who were drowned while fishing together. The Dane washed up at Beeston while his friend the Saxon washed up at Overstrand. Shuck has ever since roamed the coast between the two villages looking for his friends. There have been many local accounts of his sighting over the centuries and further accounts stating that Black Shuck made his home in the abandoned ruin of St. Martin's church, until restoration work began in 1911. Another legend states that Black Shuck rises out of the sea and runs along Shuck Lane, which was said to lead up to Cromer Great Eastern Railway station, in premonition of a foreboding storm


MundesleyView in OS Map | View in Google Map

Mundesley has an entry in the Domesday Book of 1085 being recorded by the name of Muleslai. The Mundesley war memorial is dedicated to sailors and volunteers who cleared the North Sea of mines during and after the Second World War. Next to the church is a World War II bomb shelter, which now stands near the edge of the cliff, due to coastal erosion. Mundesley is a popular seaside holiday destination due to its sandy beaches and has a number of holiday chalet and caravan parks and hotels. Just to the south of Mundesley on the road to Paston is a popular windmill, Stow Mill. The village was a popular seaside resort in Victorian times, benefiting from its own railway station which closed in 1964.



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

Summary of Document Changes

Last Updated: 2021-10-20

2021-03-17 : Update website improvements and removal of Viewranger reliance


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