Heading north from Caister-on-Sea we pass a trio of small seaside settlements: California, so named because some gold coins were found on the beach there around the time of the Gold Rush in its more famous namesake; the resort of Scratby; and Hemsby with its holiday parks. Adjacent to Hembsby is Winterton-On-Sea, whose quaint village sign depicts a couple of traditional boats, recalling its past importance as a fishing village. Another part of the local economy in the 1800s was the salvage carried out by the ‘beachmen’, who would compete with their rivals from other nearby villages to reach stricken vessels and retrieve their cargo. Winterton’s church is yet another example along this stretch of coast of a church in a small place with big pretensions, its impressive tower measuring over 130 feet high, making it one of the tallest in Norfolk.
In 2008 the sand dunes on Winterton’s beach were besieged by birdwatchers, some travelling from far and wide, after it was reported that there had been a sighting of a rare black lark, a native of Russia and Kazakhstan. It was only the third recorded visit to Britain by this bird, and the event was described as a “shot in the arm” for local birdwatchers. The bird made a good choice for its visit, because the dunes at Winterton are classed as a National Nature Reserve, and play host to large numbers of breeding and over-wintering birds. There is also some interest here for amphibian enthusiasts, with natterjack toads and smooth and crested newts using the shallow pools behind the main ridge.
Map of the area.