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picture with details
Heacham Beach was
once wild and unspoilt, visited only by local
residents who had to cross the Heacham River by a
wooden footbridge to gain access. Cocklers,
shrimpers, and local fishermen with nets and rods
have also harvested at Heacham Beach for more than
100 years. In 1887, as a result of
over-subscriptions from parishioners in celebration
of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, a new bridge
was built. It marked the beginning of the
development of the beaches and a recreation and
The area in front of
the bridge became the centre of the beach. As one faces the sea,
the stretch of beach to the right was designated North Beach and
to the left, South Beach. Heacham Beach has long
since been a magnet for fans
of kites, jet skis, kitesurfing, windsurfing and
other outdoor activities.
Heacham has many
claims to fame. Amongst them, was the renowned Wash
swim undertaken by Mercedes Gleitz on 20 June 1929.
Miss Gleitz started out from Butterwick,
Lincolnshire, with the intention of landing at Hunstanton
Beach. However, she struggled against strong tides for
three hours and was instead diverted to Heacham.
After a remarkable 13
hours 17 minutes marathon swim of 25 miles she
arrived safely on our shores.
Heacham was delighted to welcome Miss Gleitz and has
marked her achievement with a
memorial plaque at the access
ramp on Heacham North Beach. The 75th
anniversary of the swim was also marked by a weekend
long celebration in
Heacham in June 2004 (click
The disastrous east
coast storm of 1953 devastated the area but it was
eventually restored. There was a second such
disaster in 1978 which trimmed the 500 beach huts
down to just 80. To prevent a repetition of
1953 and 1978, in 1990, thousands of tonnes of sand
and shingle were brought by barge and pumped ashore
in order to raise the profile of the beach.
This task was repeated in 2005 and details of the
works involved may be found by
Both North & South Beach face West looking across a
huge bay which is 20 miles wide - almost the width
of The English Channel. Yet this is shallow,
sheltered water - not open sea. It is often
like a millpond with just the odd breeze rippling
through the shimmering water, giving the beaches a
sheltered safe feeling and providing an essential
ingredient for fabulous sunsets. If the sun is
out you are guaranteed a memorable "highway to the
heavens" - a reflection of the sun in a golden and
silver road across the water. This phenomenon
is what makes Heacham sunsets world class.
Tides also play a role
in creating these fantastic sunsets. When the
tide is low there will be a stretch of shimmery,
rippled sand with a light covering of water.
The reflected sunlight forms breathtaking colours
and patterns. This goes on for hours after the
sun has set when the reflection turns deep indigo,
crimson and deep silver blue. At times it is
almost surreal in its effect. But why is there
light on the water hours after the sun has set?
Because the upper atmosphere is still bathed in
sunlight and from a higher altitude the clouds and
ice crystals act like billions of tiny mirrors on
It is well known that Norfolk has big skies.
This is because there are no mountains and
valleys to limit the horizon. On any day you
can look skywards above the setting sun and
marvel at the delicate wisps of cirrus clouds
and feel truly close to nature. It is
real soul food - get your soul food at the
Heacham beaches now!
Even the Australian sunset cannot
equal the sunset you find along our sunset
sunset times for the longest
and shortest days of the year is about 2½ hours.
In Heacham it is 5½ hours!! This means
that, during mid-Summer, the sun lingers over the
task. So when it is a great sunset (which
is very common in Heacham) you have literally hours
it.In Australia you literally have minutes. Once the sun
goes below the horizon in Heacham it remains light
for hours after - often aided by a beautiful moon
rising from the East.