North Norfolk coast

East Norfolk, West Norfolk 21st – 22nd June 2024
general beginners
led by
Bob Ellis, Jo Parmenter and Francis Farrow

On the morning of day one we will visit Sheringham & Beeston Regis Commons SSSI. The site is a mosaic of calcareous mire, bog, and heath, together with some woodland, scrub, grassland, small streams and a pond, which between them provide a very diverse flora which is occasionally joined by garden escapes from the adjacent housing. Over 350 vascular plant species have been recorded here; perhaps the most notable of these are Blysmus compressus (Flat-sedge), Carex dioica (Dioecious Sedge), Drosera anglica (Great Sundew), Dryopteris cristata (Crested Buckler-fern), Eleocharis quinqueflora (Few-flowered Spike-rush), Gymnadenia densiflora (Marsh Fragrant-orchid), Isolepis cernua (Slender Club-rush), Parnassia palustris (Grass-of-Parnassus), Pinguicula vulgaris (Common Butterwort), Schoenus nigricans (Black Bog-rush), Solidago virgurea (Goldenrod) and Thelypteris palustris (Marsh Fern).

The terrain is generally easy on the main footpaths, elsewhere it can be a little more challenging and can be very wet in places, so stout waterproof footwear or welly boots are recommended.

In the afternoon we will visit to the nearby cliffs (about 900 m away). Beeston Cliffs are designated as a SSSI for both biological and geological reasons. We will focus on the calcareous cliff-top grassland, both here and on the adjacent cliffs at Sheringham. Particularly notable species recorded here include Phelipanche purpurea (Yarrow Broomrape) and Silene conica (Sand Catchfly). Other species we could see that may be of interest include Allium vineale (Wild Onion), Cerastium arvense (Field Mouse-ear), Lepidium latifolium (Dittander), Lupinus arboreus (Tree Lupin), Orobanche elatior (Knapweed Broomrape), Trifolium glomeratum (Clustered Clover) and Trifolium scabrum (Rough Clover).

The terrain is generally easy but the path over Beeston Bump is relatively steep and please note that the cliffs are eroding and it is dangerous to go too close to the edge. A short walk through the town (c.800 m) will bring us back to the morning meeting point.

On day two we will visit some of the coastal parts of Holkham NNR by kind permission of the Holkham Estate. We will look at the sand dunes including the pine woodland which was planted on the dunes in the late 19th century.  These comprise an intact sequence of dune communities from fore-dunes through to yellow and grey dunes and ultimately fixed dune grassland, including dune slacks supporting Laphangium luteoalbum (Jersey Cudweed) (an ‘old’ site for the plant before its expansion into urban areas) and Centaurium pulchellum (Lesser Centaury). The western end of the site also features saltmarsh, and a range of Salicornia (Glasswort) species, along with Limonium bellidifolium (Matted Sea-lavender), several of the Limonium binervosum (Rock Sea-lavender) aggregate, Frankenia laevis (Sea-heath) and Suaeda vera (Shrubby Sea-blite). Species recorded in the pinewoods which may be of interest include Goodyera repens (Creeping Lady's-tresses) (which may have been introduced with the pines) and Hypopitys monotropa (Yellow Bird's-nest). Depending upon livestock movements and presence/absence of breeding waders, it may also be possible to visit the fresh-marsh behind the dunes to see Carex divisa (Divided Sedge) and Ranunculus baudotii (Brackish Water-crowfoot).

The terrain is generally easy, but will involve a walk of about 1 km on level ground before reaching the main saltmarsh area, and a further 1 km before reaching the dune grassland (the woodland area would involve a c.8 km round trip) We will time visiting the saltmarsh to low tides on the day, which are likely to coincide with our return trip to the car park. Stout waterproof footwear (or something that you don’t mind getting muddy) is recommended.

Botanists of all skill levels are welcome, from beginners to specialists.

Meet at 10.30 each day.