Norfolk Passport

Top 5 | Cromer

Cromer’s motto is 'Gem of the Norfolk Coast‘ and there are many reasons why. Here is our take on it.

The beach 

It’s got the lot! Cliffs, sand, opportunities to hawk for fossils, heart shaped stones, spherical balls, flotsam and jetsam. Beach huts feature quirky names and rainbow colours, held down by chains to defy those winter storms. For the not faint-hearted there is Glide Surf School if you fancy surfing ‘East Coast style’! 

The Lifeboat Museum, which is open from February until November, is well worth a visit (go say hello to Henry Blogg and his dog!). In the summer you can try fishing and crabbing from the town’s iconic pier (see below crabbing guide).

Seasonal events 

Committees in Cromer are kept busy all year organising many events to enjoy. Cromer’s Carnival in August is a blast from your UK beach holiday past. A full two week Children’s Carnival precedes the main event in which you can take part in good old traditional seaside fun. Sandcastle building, knobbly knees, glamourous grandma competitions, proper Carnival parade including impressive ‘floats’ and the Red Arrows which come zooming out of nowhere looking spectacular as they zip over the Pier!

The Pier

The turn of the 20th century saw a pier building boom generated in part by Victorian construction and mass tourism by steam train to seaside resorts. The fashion of the day was to ‘take the air’ and ‘promenade’ out over the sea. Cromer’s pier was completed in 1901. The historical ambiance of the pier is maintained by the complete absence of any amusement machines or other modern artifacts. It also affords wonderful panoramic views of Cromer’s Victorian architecture and cliff-lined shore. The Cromer Pier also has a great programme every year with a variety of entertainment. 

Enjoy an ice cream (Norfolk made!) and sit back watching the world go by on this wonderful historic structure. 

Cromer Pier and crab image (below) by Chris Taylor Photo.

The cinema 

Tucked away up a side street opposite Cromer’s impressive church is The Regal Movieplex cinema. Four screens, a little dated but we think quirky in its own way (banquette seating for smooching anyone?) 

We recommend fish and chips either at Mary Jane’s or en route at Roughton then on to the movie. We love the idea of privately hiring a screen for a special occasion! What movie would you select to watch with the whole family or school class? (Image by Lesley van Dijk)

Eat the view 

Seaside, fresh air, outdoor eating, and chips at the seaside is the best. It is food for the soul isn’t it when you are cold or tired after a fun beach day? If you fancy being inside, head to the Rocket House Café which has a great view and lively staff. And then there’s Mary Jane’s, which has a long tradition of making fish and chips. Enjoy them on the Victorian Pier or dine in at the restaurant alongside.

Make every day a Cromer day!

PS There are fun rides and a lovely play area with a wooden ship left of the pier. 

A quick guide to crabbing 

In the summer you can give ‘gillying‘ (a Norfolk term for crabbing) a go, a traditional North Norfolk seaside activity. 

Crabbing reel 

Only use a weight and string. The bait can be tied on and the crabs cling to it with all their might! Some families (those that are competitive!) have 'banned' nets because it too easy. By the way, for bird conservation reasons, no hooks are allowed. 

Bait and bucket 

Try some left-over bacon rind. Also great is squid, really cheap from any fishing tackle shop. 

The tide 

Often overlooked and can turn the mood in any excited crabbing party when you pitch up with all the gear and that focused crabbing mind, only to find no water! This massively depends on location so make sure that the tide is high!

Note that the Port of Wells (Well-Next-The-Sea) is looking to reduce plastic in the harbour by promoting the use of wooden tackles with a steel bucket instead of plastic gear. This a good guide for Cromer too.

Here you can also read a recipe about Cromer crab and more about its beach.