Monday, 17 February 2014

After the storm surge

Cley beach in Norfolk and its changing landscape, remodelled after December's storm surge.
I hadn’t been up to north Norfolk since the major storm surge in December, but had heard from friends living there how devastating the effect had been on the local landscape. Yesterday I paid brief visits to Cley and Salthouse, as well as my ‘away’ local patch of Kelling, and to the untrained eye the main visible impact appears largely confined to the narrow coastal strip along and behind the beach.

The beach shelter at Cley coastguards - no longer ideal for seawatching.
Here, immense quantities of the shingle ridge – previously the first and last line of defence against the sea – have been shifted, and presumably also lowered where the sea came through and flooded the marshes. Perhaps it's that invisible impact that will prove to be the worst, with saltwater inundation in one major storm-driven tide damaging the freshwater and brackish ecosystems that have been nurtured over many years on these reserves.

A section of boardwalk, presumably from the reserve at Cley NWT, now on accidental 'loan' to Kelling ...
... and no longer leading along the 'Autumn Trail' as advertised.
I was told the storm surge had completely obliterated the North Hide at Cley. I found what appeared to be part of it – and a section of boardwalk and a nature trail sign – about a mile and a half eastwards inland from the beach at Kelling! Needless to say it is no longer fit for purpose, even if two sections of boardwalk were impressively still joined together (quality NWT workmanship!). Here’s a few more images from the coast over the weekend:

Looking west from Cley coastguards to Blakeney Point.
Cattle pasture inland from the sea at Kelling, scoured out by the tide.
Most of this old pillbox at Kelling was submerged under shingle previously, but now it has walk-in access.

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