Summer has arrived on the Norfolk coast with the hot weather drawing families to the seaside.

%image(14597419, type="article-full", alt="Walcott beach was busy, but not jam-packed. Pictures: David Bale")

Walcott is traditionally packed out during the summer months and the scene on Thursday, June 25 was a return to normal.

There were few car parking spaces on the road overlooking the sea, and visitors sizzled in the heat.

The Kingfisher fish bar is back open and queues were out the door. But social distancing was still being observed, even on the beach where families stayed more than two metres apart,

MORE: Restaurants post-lockdown bite back as diners rediscover appetite for eating out Nearby Cart Gap beach was also much busier than it has been for the last few weeks of lockdown.

%image(14597420, type="article-full", alt="Thousands are expected to flock to Hunstanton as lockdown is relaxed over the weekend Picture: Chris Bishop")

That was good news for Andy Tate, from Rackheath, who was doing a roaring business at his Scoops quality ice cream van.

He said: “It’s been busy but it’s not been helped by the tide being in. I think people are using it as an opportunity to make better use of the sun and go out.”

Paul Stewart had driven from Salhouse. He said: “We’ve got two dogs so we have been on the beach as long as we’ve been able to. But when you get weather like this you don’t need to go abroad.”

The Cart Gap car park was nearly full and the public toilets are back open.

%image(14597421, type="article-full", alt="PC RIchard Blaydon (right) and PC Gregg Jonas, Gorleston community beat managers, said that they had had "no trouble" at the beach, and that most people were enjoying the sunshine sensibly and at a distance. Photo: Sarah Burgess")

Meanwhile, the Brancaster estate tweeted that the car park at the beach was at capacity.

It added: “If you’re hoping to visit, please join us on another day so the site can continue to open safely.”

Hunstanton saw a slow start, but the beach soon filled up as the day went on, the cooler temperatures of the coast providing respite for trippers.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Tuesday that many businesses, including pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and hotels, will be able to open on July 4.

%image(14597422, type="article-full", alt="Andy was stationed at Dimascio's Ice Cream van on Marine Parade. He said the crowds on the beach had meant service at the van was slow, but that things would pick up around 2pm when people started heading home for the day. Photo: Sarah Burgess")

But businesses in Gorleston were already seeing queues which tailed out the door.

Dozens of people queued up outside the Marina Bay Cafe, while staff at Dimascio’s Ice Cream said they’d been “pleasantly surprised” by the turnout.

Marissa, who works at Dimascio’s, said that after making “a few adjustments” things had largely returned to normal for them.

She said: “We’ve been open for takeaway since mid-May, and regulars are loving that we’re back and the beach is starting to look like its old self.

%image(14597423, type="article-full", alt="Gorleston's beach was busy but everyone kept at a very safe distance on the hottest day of the year so far. Photo: Sarah Burgess")

“We’ve got a new system in place - one person deals with the money and the other the ice cream and serving to avoid contamination.

“Inevitably, this has slowed service down a bit. But this week in particular has been a lot busier than we thought.”

Just back from the seafront at Seabreeze Cafe, workers Liz and Tina said businesses were at the “mercy of the weather”, but that it was lovely seeing the beach so busy after spending months behind closed doors.

For Gorleston community beat managers PC Richard Blaydon and PC Gregg Jonas, people had been “very respectful” of social distancing guidelines.

%image(14597424, type="article-full", alt="Tina (left) and Liz, from the newly renovated Seabreeze Cafe just off Gorleston's seafront. Photo: Sarah Burgess")

PC Blaydon said: “It may look busy from afar, but everyone is keeping their distance. We haven’t had to hand out any fines and most people are enjoying the sun safely and sensibly.

“It’s been no trouble at all.”

At Great Yarmouth however, the seafront was comparatively quiet.

Shop assistant Caroline, whose brother-in-law owns The Shake Shack along the Golden Mile, said things had “died down” since the first stage of lockdown easing.

She said: “Back in May when takeaways could open, the place was rammed.

“Now, we’re busy mainly on weekends and that’s because of day-trippers more than locals.

“What the town really needs is for the holiday makers to come back. That’ll get things going again.”

Likewise for the owner of the Anchor Cafe, a return of staycationers and holiday makers can’t come soon enough.

He said: “We’re the only cafe open in this section and we’re not exactly overrun. Hopefully we’ll start to see a difference come July 4.”