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Visit Happisburgh now whilst it is still there!
Happisburgh is a small village on the coast of North Norfolk. It has become common currency to say that a coastal village is battered by the sea, but in Happisburghs case it has not only been battered, but robbed and left for dead too.
In the 1950s wooden sea defences were built to protect the village but these have been failing over the last few years, and large chunks of the sandy cliffs are regularly falling into the sea. In 2002 tons of rock were dropped at the base of the cliffs to offer some protection, but the erosion still carries on as year by year chunks of land drop into the sea.
Whilst all this is tragic for the people of Happisburgh who lose their houses to the North Sea and receive no compensation for their loss, it is a gift to photographers. All those rotting sea defences offer huge amounts of foreground interest to any East-coast sunrise you could capture here. Even if you don't have a camera with you standing on the beach on a stormy day, watching the waves smack in to the remains of the defences gives you a real sense of the power of the sea.
On the cliffs above the beach sits the famous red-and-white striped lighthouse - the only independently operated lighthouse in Great Britain. It is also the oldest working lighthouse in East Anglia having been constructed in 1790. The village also boasts the 5th century St Mary's church – the tower of which was an important landmark to mariners warning of the position of the treacherous nearby sandbanks
How to get there
Take the B1159 then follow the signs to Happisburgh, though personally I have always relied on Sat.Nav to find it as there are a lot of tiny roads. At the time of writing the car-park can be found in Beach Road – Take the first left and it is on your right. Careful – if you go to fast along this road you may well miss the entrance to the car-park and end up adding extra foreground interest on the beach.
From the carpark head towards the cliff edge and turn left, following along the edge of the cliff, past the lifeboat station that is now cut off from the sea to a metal staircase that heads down to the beach.
What to shoot
The broken sea defences offer some fascinating opportunities and it is easy to spend hours here just experimenting with compositions and wave patterns.
There are also plenty of close up opportunities as stones and shells are driven into the battered wood and rock defences.
If you do run out of ideas – the Norfolk Broads with all their rich scenery are very close.