An insider's guide to the county's best kept secrets
Signposted from A12
Nearest Satnav NR31 6DX
Renowned for its sands, this 3km Victorian beach has retained the atmosphere of yonder year with its paddle pool and yacht pond; a traditional seaside environment with endless amenities for children that remains quiet and tasteful, putting it in a league of its own for families.
Where to find it
Gorleston’s two beaches - north and south - sit in a bay between Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft. Both beaches are well signposted from the A12 and a cliff top road runs the full length along this stretch of coast. South beach, the quieter of the two, that follows on from Hopton beach (click here for a review of Hopton beach) has a car park at the top of the hill and slopes down to the beach. A pedestrian path runs from here to South beach and is part of the Mia Rose exercise trail. If you wish to drive to South beach there is parking at the side of the road all along the hilltop and around thirty actual parking spaces down by the beach although access to them isn’t immediately obvious.
What to expect – South Beach
This is an unspoilt expansive beach, much like Hopton, that remains quiet bar the odd dog walker and has a lovely tranquil feel to it. Part of the ‘trim trial’, passing through it as a timed beach walk route is idyllic. Part sand, part shingle, the beach curves round in both directions as far as the eye can see. To the left is Gorleston south beach and further round is the large seaside resort of Great Yarmouth which can be seen in the distance. I urge families not to head straight for the commercial mayhem though, but instead spend their day on Gorleston’s North beach. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
What to expect – North Beach
The views from this beach from the top of the hill are inviting, as too is the Victorian feel that still surrounds the place. Tendered gardens lead down from the hilltop to the beach and are built around a set of stones to your right. The beach itself is backed by a rock armour-protected concrete sea wall with timber groynes. You’ll instantly spot a paddle pool for the toddlers and a large boating lake. This was built in 1927 when yachting was a popular hobby for children and is one of the last to remain with a boat club still meeting here some evenings in the summer.
If the safety of your children concerns you, the beach has a manned RNLI lifeguard lookout tower. With an abundance of rolling waves and a strong current, it’s a good base for kite and wind surfing, boogie boarding and the like.
You’ll find many amenities here that provide variety and amusement for families whilst retaining a quality seaside feel: tennis and basketball courts, children’s playground and bouncy castle, trampolines, pitch and putt and a bowling green. Near the beach is a row of old chalet shops that provide places to eat, buy beach accessories and get an ice-cream. They sell ‘Maggie’s Sorbet’ which is a nice surprise for anyone on a dairy-free diet. The lemon and raspberry ices are first class. Heading towards the town are more beautifully tendered gardens and the Pavilion Theatre; a listed building over a century old with stunning dome pillars. The newly built bandstand nearby is in keeping with the feel of the resort too.
What everyone really heads to the coast for is the beach though and Gorleston North has superb sand. Pack up a picnic, get the kids in the car and head off for an old fashioned day out to remember.