West Runton is a pretty town just set back from the coast of North Norfolk, just to the east of Sheringham. Access to the geological interest, the beach and cliffs, is gained by a road to Womanhithe Gap which slopes to the shore and is where a cafe and toilets are located.
The foreshore is a wave-cut platform formed from shattered chalk with massive flints and paramoudras. The Pleistocene ‘Weybourne Crag’ resting on the Chalk is exposed only as one small block on the foreshore here.
The cliffs are a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) notified for their Pleistocene deposits. At the base of the cliff to the east of the path down to the beach (the Womanhithe Gap) is the fossiliferous West Runton Member (Freshwater Bed) of the Cromer Forest Bed Formation which, with the Bacton Member above, forms the stratotype of the Cromerian interglacial. The famous West Runton “elephant”, a Steppe mammoth Mammuthus trogontherii, was found in these beds.
Resting on the Cromer Forest Bed Formation are glacial deposits belonging to the Anglian Stage. They consist of a complex sequence of fluviatile sediments and contorted drift which demonstrate a climate cooling from the interglacial to glacial conditions. They include river sands, gravels, glacial till and outwash sands reflecting climatic deterioration into the stadial. There is remarkable folding in the glacial sediments - the consequence of glacio-tectonic deformation.
How to get there:
Rail or bus
Nearest railway station:
Ramp to bottom of cliffs then sandy/cobbled shore
Cretaceous and Quaternary
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
Text and photographs: Naomi Stevenson
Text and photography (c):
Page updated March 2013
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