Posted by: Ross Gardner | January 20, 2015

Dune Coast

Winterton Dunes.  Ross Gardner 2015.

Winterton Dunes. Ross Gardner 2015.

…… Beyond scattered strandings

Of pallid weed

The beach hauled up by roots.

Wind-crested, rippling;

Breaking in a lichen surf……

(from ‘Dune Coast’, By Ross Gardner)

The beach and dunes at Winterton on the East Norfolk coast have a special place in my affections.  Winterton village was the location of many a family holiday when I was a child.  Visiting it now, it is somewhere still steeped in nostalgia and warm memories of formative years discovering a love of the natural world.  It is somewhere which has unsurprisingly made the pages of my previously published writings.

Walking south from Horsey Gap however, was an approach to the area I had never made before.  It is a fine walk.  The dunes rise as high at Horsey as they do at Winterton, but do not roll inland as deeply.  They abut grazing marshes, a winter resort of Lapwing and Meadow Pipits.  We had our access to the beach here denied.  Not by any incongruous human activity, but by a sizable colony of Grey Seal that favour the beach to haul out on and raise their pups.  The barring of people is necessary.  Not least because seals are wild animals and should stay that way, but also because the pups are easily approached and close contact with humans can cause their mothers to reject them.  Scent is a powerful thing indeed for many creatures.

As the dunes stretched out at Winterton, so our way onto the beach was possible again.  This is somewhere that seems synonymous with Sanderling racing along the lapping waves; we would often see them here.  Today a lone Turnstone was the only small wader paddling into the surf.

Inland the dunes roll out towards the purple haze of stunted birch.  Winter-dormant, they still hold that familiar character of a place in my memory of spring and summer holidays, the pale-tipped Marram Grass and lichen turf giving it a silvery hue.  They were quiet and still, sheltered from the sea-breeze.  A Green Woodpecker bounds up towards the birches as we approach, drawing attention to a Marsh Harrier breaking the skyline.

The magic of the place still remains.

Grey Seal (Halichoerus grypus).  Ross Gardner 2015

Grey Seal (Halichoerus grypus). Ross Gardner 2015



  1. Rather jealous seeing The Dunes, took me back there too. Hunting for the elusive natterjack toads and blustery treks to catch a glimpse of the sea. Seem to remember bats in the belfry at some point featured. Good memories.

Leave a Reply to Pippa Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: