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Home » Hunstanton to Wolferton – Longshore Drift

Hunstanton to Wolferton – Longshore Drift

As a sailing and windsurfing resident of Hunstanton since 2001 I have seen the SAND on the beaches of Hunstanton, Heacham and Snettisham come and go – all part of the natural phenomena of LONGSHORE DRIFT. Most people will have studied that in Geography – if you want it explaining to you – here’s a Wiki-link


In the last 3 years or so the state of the beaches has changed most dramatically. EXCESS sand has been deposited in the South of The Wash (Wolferton and Snettisham) with Heacham and the South Beach of Hunstanton also GAINING excessive sand. A prime example of SOUTH Hunstanton’s INCREASE in sand can be found directly outside the FUNFAIR. For many years there have been 6 – 10 steps down to the beach – now just 2 or 3 in some places as the sand has buried several flights of steps. Ask any sailor at Snettisham beach about the change in the sand conditions. In the last few years the height of the tide required to sail there has increased dramatically.


The opposite can be found at Hunstanton’s NORTH Beach – in particular near the site of the old Pier and directly in front of Hunstanton Sailing Club. The photos below were taken on the 12th March 2024. 10 years ago more than 80% of those rocks were under sand. The beach was a pleasant place to walk and undertake watersports such as windsurfing, kiteboards, kayaking and SUP’ing. NOT ANYMORE. Not only is it current condition of the beach unsightly – it is also DANGEROUS. In some areas the gaps between the rocks is 60 to 70cm DEEP and 15cm wide (see photo 3). The perfect trap to get your foot stuck when covered in water – a little bit of sideways pressure and you’ve got a broken leg. The photos below illustrate TWO things 1) the general state of the beach and lack of sand and 2) the tragic condition of the groynes. Note – the very last photo shows a small area where the groynes are doing their job – keeping the sand in place.

What’s being done about it?

I have read several recent articles in the EDP and Lynn News about the planned RECHARGING of the beach in February 2024 – moving excess sand from the South (Heacham) to the North (Hunstanton). I don’t believe this has started but I stand corrected if it has. But is it enough?

Holey Bucket Analogy

I am in not in any way a qualified Environmental Engineer – so I like to put things in simple terms. Imagine the sand in Hunstanton is all contained in a BUCKET. If there is a HOLE in my bucket and the sand if pouring out (in this case migrating South) what should I do about it?

  1. Keep REFILLING the bucket at great EXPENSE – as an when budget, weather, time etc permit
  2. FIX the HOLE in BUCKET

The BUCKET in this case is, in my uneducated opinion, the GROYNES. Just look at the state of them in the photos above and video below. To me they have always appeared TOO SHORT. The old ZIG-ZAG wooden ones in Heacham North Beach are SO EFFECTIVE you can only see the top of many of them – so much sand has built up around them. Those Groynes appear to be TWICE, if not THREE times the length of the Hunstanton North Beach groynes.


Are NEW Longer Groynes the Answer?

As a windsurfer and sailor doubling or even tripling the groyne length in front of Hunstanton Sailing Club would be problematic – but only until the sand filled in. They could be constructed in a way whereby they get lower the further out they get. Surely they only have to be high enough to create a new layer of sand 30cm above the highest ROCKS? Again – happy to be corrected.


We have a massive problem. The sand from Hunstanton Town is migrating South – rapidly. Instead of just dragging the sand back up the beach (somehow it never quite gets as far as Town Beach) – let’s STOP it at source and keep it where we want it. This can only be achieved by some radical re-think on the current size and effectiveness of the Groynes Nos 1 – Nos 12 (I think)

This is what we have now

Oh yes – lovely – let’s visit Hunstanton and break a leg on the rocks ☹️

This is what we WANT

Groynes doing what they are supposed to do. Keeping the sand in place creating a clean, level beach. Perfect for all watersports and leisure activities.

Photo © Mat Fascione (cc-by-sa/2.0)