There is a constant battle raging between the sea and the land at Overstrand, and although the land is holding its own thanks to some serious sea defences, it looks as though the water will be the eventual winner. The cliffs around Overstrand are crumbling slowly and are being reclaimed by the North Sea. Further east, the cliffs are so precarious that there is no access to them until you reach Mundesley. In the 14th century the sea swept away the land on which St Martin's Church stood, and the villagers were obliged to build another – the one you can see today.
This walk has more to offer than eroded cliffs and tales of disappearing churches. It wanders through Poppylands, the name given to the area by poet Clement William Scott in late Victorian times. Scott loved this part of Norfolk and wrote a series of newspaper articles about the unspoiled beauty of its fishing villages, rolling farmland and rugged coastline. His descriptions were so vivid that visitors flocked to the area, and the humble fishing village developed to accommodate the rich and famous. Houses were designed by prominent architects like Edwin Lutyens and Arthur William Bloomfield. The Pleasaunce was designed by Lutyens with gardens by Gertrude Jekyll for Gladstone's Chief Whip, Lord Battersea, and splendid Overstrand Hall was built for the banker Lord Hillingdon in 1899. Even the Churchill family had a residence here.
As the population grew to include an upper-class community, more facilities were needed to accommodate them. St Martin's Church had become unsafe in the 18th century, and Christ Church was raised in 1867 to replace it. But the newcomers preferred the ancient simplicity of St Martin's and so it was rebuilt and restored between 1911 and 1914. For those who preferred nonconformist worship there was a handsome Methodist chapel, designed in 1898 by Lutyens. It is an odd building, with a brick lower floor, and arched clerestory windows in the upper floor. After strolling through the farmland south of Overstrand, you reach the village of Northrepps, which became famous when Verily Anderson wrote a book called The Northrepps Grandchildren, describing what life was like at Northrepps Hall.
Go right, out of the car park onto Paul's Lane. Pass the Old Rectory, then walk along the pavement on the left. Pass Arden Close, then look for the public footpath sign on your left. Follow this alley until you reach a road.
Cross the road, aiming for the 'Private Drive Please Drive Slowly' sign. To the left is a footpath. Go up this track, then take the path to the left of the gate to Stanton Farm. Climb a hill, taking the path to the right when the main track bears left. At the brow go through the gate to the right and follow the path towards a line of trees. Go downhill, eventually reaching Toll Cottage.
Take the lane ahead, passing Broadgate Close. At the Northrepps village sign and a T-junction, turn left onto Church Street, keeping left. Pass the Foundry Arms and look for the phone box and bus stop, beyond which lies Craft Lane.
Turn right along Craft Lane, using the pavement until a sign marks this as a 'quiet lane' for walkers. After 700yds (640m) there is a Paston Way sign on your left. Take this through the woods, and bear left when it becomes a track to Hungry Hill farm.
At the lane next to the farm, turn left. After a few paces go right, following 'Circular Walk Paston Way' signs. Follow this gravel track towards the radar scanner installation.
Keep left where the track bends towards the radar tower, following the footpath signs. The path descends through woods, passing under a disused railway bridge before meeting the main road. Cross this, then turn left to walk on the pavement for a few paces before turning right along Coast Road.
Go down the steep ramp to your right to arrive at a concrete walkway. Up to your left you will see the remains of fallen houses in the crumbling cliffs. Follow the walkway (or you can walk on the sand, if you prefer) until you reach a slipway for boats. To the left of the slipway is a zig-zag pathway.
Follow this upwards to the top of the cliffs. The car park is just ahead of you.
Farm tracks, footpaths, quiet lanes
Attractive rolling farmland
Dogs not allowed on Promenade
OS Explorer 252 Norfolk Coast East
Pay-and-display car park on Coast Road in Overstrand
At car park
Walking in safety
Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.
Also in the area
About the area
The North Norfolk Coast is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and probably the finest of its kind in Europe. Here you’ll find a string of quaint villages and small towns – Holkham, Wells-next-the-Sea and Cley next the Sea are 21st-century favourites, while Sheringham and Cromer are classic examples of a good old-fashioned seaside resort where grand Victorian hotels look out to sea. Further round the coast you'll find Great Yarmouth, one of the most popular resorts in the UK and packed full of amusements, shops and seashore entertainment. And let's not forget Norwich, the region's only city.
Norfolk prides itself on its wealth of historic houses, the most famous being Sandringham, where Her Majesty the Queen and her family spend Christmas. Many of Norfolk’s towns have a particular charm and a strong sense of community. The quiet market towns of Fakenham and Swaffham are prime examples, as well as Thetford, with its popular museum focusing on the TV comedy series Dad’s Army which was filmed in the area.