NORFOLK Museums Service
Pro-glacial thrusting at Sidestrand

Beeston Regis - West Runton

Geology

The Chalk is only exposed at low water. In the cliff there are good sections of the Contorted Drift, displaying banded tills in the lower part of the cliffs and highly contorted tills and sand pods in the upper part. At intervals along the cliff there are prominent basins of sand several, tens of metres across. They are often well bedded and level, except at the edges, where the bedding is folded sharply upwards becoming vertical or even over vertical. The favoured explanation are that these are the remnants of outwash sands that were deposited rapidly from the meltwaters flowing off the icesheet. They appear to have sunk through the soft and possibly very wet sediments that we call the Contorted Drift, which have flowed aside to accommodate them.

Immediately to the west of Woman Hythe (West Runton Gap) a small swale of black, organic deposits that belong to the West Runton Freshwater Bed, which outcrops in the upper beach and base of the cliff. It is less fossiliferous than the main Freshwater Bed deposit but is of the same age. Above it are silts of the Cromerian III transgression, when the ancient Norfolk coastline was inundated by the rising sea levels of the latter part of the Cromer interglacial. Below the swale, on the seaward side of the wooden revetment, are pebbly marine sands and silts of the Lower Pleistocene, including two stone beds. The lower of these, directly on the Chalk, is the Cromer Stone Bed, which is rich in local flint. The upper one includes quartz and quartzite pebbles brought from the Midlands by pre-Anglian river systems. These Pleistocene deposits rest on the Chalk platform where, due to the hardness of the Cromer Stone Bed that caps the Chalk in places, small, pedestals of Chalk are left standing proud by marine erosion.

The foreshore west of Woman Hythe exhibits the only rock pools on the Norfolk coast. We are asked to help conserve the wildlife that lives in these pools by not collecting live specimens and to restore boulders to their original orientations if there are turned over.

The area is rich in exhumed paramoudra flints (known locally as pot stones) - which are characteristic, sturdy flint nodules that originally have a central core of Chalk and a tall flint 'doughnut' around it. But once exhumed, the Chalk is quickly removed by the action of the sea to create a hole big enough to get your arm through.

Getting There

There is a large car park at West Runton beach (Woman Hythe) sign posted from village (TG 184432). The beach is best accessed from West Runton (Woman Hythe).