Cromer Ridge-how was it created?

View towards the sea. The trees are starting to show their autumn colours

When you are standing near the old signal station (adjacent to the main car park) you are standing at around 100m (330 ft) above sea level at one of the highest points of the Cromer Ridge. This is a massive glacial feature that dominates the topography of North Norfolk.

Look towards the sea and imagine that stretching away from this once tree-less and barren ground is nothing but rather dirty ice, gaining in height and thickness as it extends beyond the northern horizon. It is cut by numerous crevasses and disgorges torrents of turgid melt-water at its margin. This is the edge of the continental ice sheet as it was towards the end of the Anglian glaciation of around 430,000 years ago.

West Runton and Beeston Regis Heaths, Incleborough Hill and Town Hill are all part of the Cromer Ridge, which is an east-west feature that extends from Mundesley on the coast in the east, then runs just south of Cromer and Sheringham more or less parallel with the coast and then continues inland to Holt and fades out near Thursford in the west. The ridge is steeper on its northern side where it was touched directly by the ice sheet, but its gradient slopes more gently to the south where the landscape is formed of sediments laid down as outwash from glacial streams.

At its maximum the Anglian ice sheet reached as far as south as north London but as it waned it retreated northwards, pausing for a long time in north Norfolk and creating the Cromer Ridge. Despite this stand-still a succession of advances from the north and from the west bulldozed glacial debris up into what in geomorphological terms is part push moraine and part terminal moraine. During subsequent glacial-interglacial cycles the ice never again approached the ridge-line, but the accompanying arctic conditions helped to sculpt the landform into what you see today.