Linked by a series of clifftop greens and gardens, this circular route combines the hubbub of Hunstanton and the relative quiet of its much older neighbour, Old Hunstanton. The two settlements offer a truly wide variety of options for food and drink, to suit all tastes and budgets.
This Hunstanton circular walk is not signposted on the ground, but it easy to follow with a map. It leads from Le Strange’s statue at Upper Green, along North Promenade, up toward the cliffs. It then follows the route of the Norfolk Coast Path, past the ruin of St. Edmunds Chapel and Hunstanton Lighthouse. Coming through Old Hunstanton it visits St. Mary’s Church before returning to Hunstanton via the Esplanade Gardens.
Hunstanton is famous for its dramatic striped cliffs and for being one of the few places on the east coast of England where the sun can be seen setting over the sea. Before 1840 though the town did not exist. Only a few buildings, such as the ruin of St. Edmunds Chapel and Hunstanton Lighthouse, stood between the village of Old Hunstanton to the north and Heacham, four miles to the south.
The development of ‘New Hunstanton’ as a seaside destination was the vision of the Victorian landowner, Henry Styleman Le Strange. Today, a life-size statue commemorating him stands on Upper Green, almost directly opposite the first building that was constructed in the town, the Golden Lion Hotel (originally the New Inn).
The statue depicts the Victorian landowner with a train track running around his feet. Le Strange petitioned for the railway to reach Hunstanton from King’s Lynn, and eventually his persistence paid off. Hunstanton Railway Station opened in October 1862. Le Strange did not witness the opening, however, nor the prosperity it would bring – he died in July of the same year.
Henry Styleman Le Strange is buried in the churchyard of St. Mary’s in Old Hunstanton where he shares a private plot with other members of his family, including his son Hamon. Hunstanton Hall, which stands nearby, was the family seat until 1949. It has now been divided into a number of private apartments. The Esplanade Gardens, designed by the head gardener of Sandringham House, opened around 1880. The bowling greens, the Cenotaph war memorial and several themed displays have been developed since.
(OS Explorer 250)