Sunbathing out, markets in - Norfolk's drizzly bank holiday weekend

Musicians Clive and Gwenyth King were a popular attraction at the latest Holt Sunday Market. 

Musicians Clive and Gwenyth King were a popular attraction at the latest Holt Sunday Market. - Credit: Supplied by Nigel Hadlow

Browsing market stalls and hunting for fossils have proven more popular than sunbathing or sea swimming this bank holiday weekend. 

Visitors to the coast have been donning coats or avoiding the beach altogether, as Norfolk experienced a drizzly end to the coldest August in the region since 2012.

Walkers spotting seals at Horsey beach on Saturday, August 28.

Walkers spotting seals at Horsey beach on Saturday, August 28. The weather has been too cold for sunbathing, so visitors to the coast have sought out other pursuits. - Credit: Stuart Anderson

Louise O’Shea, from West Runton Beach Cafe in Water Lane, said business had still been strong.

She said: "The weather has been terrible and very windy but we've been ticking over. 

"We've still had plenty of people going rock pooling and fossil hunting. At this time of year there's already so many people around anyway, and I think people are just pleased to be able to get out and about.

"But we would have liked it a bit warmer."

Dr David Waters of Norfolk Museums has amassed an impressive collection of fossils found on Norfolk

Dr David Waters of Norfolk Museums with fossils found on the county's beaches. Fossil hunting has proven a popular pastime in spots such as West Runton over the bank holiday weekend. - Credit: Lauren De Boise

Nigel Hadlow, Love Holt ambassador, said the mild temperatures had benefitted the town's Sunday market and the August 29 event was the busiest of the year so far. 

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Mr Hadlow said: "It was a really good one because not as many people were going to the beach. The car parks were heaving, and there were thousands of people here through the day."

He said husband and wife musical team Clive and Gwenyth King were a popular attraction at the market, which saw the town centre filled with traders and al fresco dining areas. 

The event has been weekly throughout July and August, and will now revert to taking place on the first Sunday of the month for the rest of the year. 

Amy Loose, of the volunteer Brancaster Parking and Safety Team, said the village and its popular sandy beach had been noticeably quieter.

She said: "The weather has kept most people away. We had the overflow car park open on Friday and yesterday, but we haven't opened it on [Bank Holiday Monday]."

The  Brancaster Parking and Safety Team has been set up to help alleviate parking and traffic issues in the popular village. 

From left,  Ros Issott, Val Carpenter and Amy Loose from the Brancaster Parking and Safety Team. - Credit: Supplied by Amy Loose

Mrs Loose said Brancaster's roads had not faced gridlock over the long weekend, as sometimes happens there.

The team began running the overflow car park next to Saxon Field off the A149 this summer to cope accommodate visitors, who regularly ended up parking on verges when the beach car park is full or cut off by the tide. 

'A strange old time'

One coastal arcade said visitor numbers had been similar to those in 2019 before the pandemic struck, although admitted finding staff was the biggest issue of the year.

Steven Ashford, general manager at the South Pier family entertainment centre in Lowestoft, said: "It has been a strange old time.

"We have had the impossibility of getting staff and with everything else going on and illnesses, it has been an exceptionally challenging year.

"Thankfully the number of visitors has been pretty much consistent with 2019 and they have been respectful.

"After a year like we have had, it is probably best to keep afloat and build back next year."

Speaking earlier this month, Ben Llewellyn, one of the directors at Claremont Pier, said the poor weather meant crowds hadn't been "brilliantly busy."

He added the first "10 or 12 days" of the school holidays saw "awful" weather, which continued throughout the month.