7 gorgeous Norfolk places to watch the Summer Solstice sunrise or sunset

A serene seafront sunrise at Cromer. Picture: Christopher Dean

Seafront sunrise at Cromer - Credit: Christopher Dean/iwitness24

It’s the longest day of the year on Monday June 21 - and, clouds allowing, the ideal day to enjoy a seaside or hilltop Norfolk (or Suffolk) sunrise and sunset and make the most of very nearly 17 hours of daylight in between.  

A cat woke us up at 4am so we decided to go and watch the sunrise which was just amazing. Very happy

Sunrise at North Denes Beach, Yarmouth - Credit: Ryan Grice/iwitness24

For the earliest sunrise head to the north-east coast. The beach at Hopton-on-sea is Norfolk’s most easterly point, with sunrise at 4.31am. Just a  over the county border is Ness Point, Lowestoft – the most easterly town in the whole country.  In Lowestoft the First Light Festival includes a live-stream of the summer solstice sunrise on Lowestoft beach from 4.15am, accompanied by music by trio Kosmic. Most of the rest of the festival events will be over the weekend of June 26 and 27 including art, music, drama and sea shanties.  

Cromer is one of the best places in Britain to view the sunrise and the sunset from exactly the same spot. Stand at the end of the pier for a stunning view of the sunrise at 4.29am and return at the end of the longest day for sunset at 9.24pm. 

Cromer Pier at sunset

Cromer Pier at sunset - Credit: Jackie Moore/iwitness24

A sunset across The Wash at Hunstanton Picture: Chris Bishop

A sunset across The Wash at Hunstanton - Credit: Chris Bishop

Norfolk’s west coast is another perfect place for a seaside sunset. If the solstice evening is clear the sun will seem to sink beneath the waves at 9.28pm at Hunstanton, throwing its final beams of the day on to the famous red and white striped cliffs. 

Stonehenge is one of the most spectacular settings in the world to see sunrise on the summer solstice. Norfolk has not got a stone henge but once had wooden henges just south of Norwich and at Holme-next-the-Sea near Hunstanton. Arminghall Henge is believed to have been aligned with the winter solstice sun 4,000 years ago. Seahenge, also built around 4,000 years ago, emerged from the sea at Holme in 1998 and is preserved in Lynn Museum, King's Lynn.

Mountain sunrises are particularly spectacular and while Norfolk’s peaks are not as showy than the Himalayas we have our own high points. Beacon Hill, aka Roman Camp, in West Runton, near Cromer, rises to a magnificent 103 metres or 338 feet. Yes, it’s the lowest high point of any English county – but as poet John Betjeman said: “I am still reeling with delight at the soaring majesty of Norfolk.” There are tremendous views from the top and it is worth knowing that as the sun rises its rays are warming what was once the front line of an ice age. Glaciers up to a kilometre thick ground to a halt here. 

The second highest point in Norfolk is in the middle of the county between Melton Constable and Swanton Novers, at just over 100 metres or 331ft above sea level. Picturesque Beeston Bump, east of Sheringham, is the 19721st highest peak in the British Isles at 63 metres or 207ft.. 

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For fine Norwich views (summer solstice sunrise at 4.31am and sunset at 9.22pm) try Mousehold Heath for the first of the sun and Kett’s Heights, off Kett’s Hill, to watch it set behind the city at the end of the day.  

Sunset 20/4/17 from the cliff top at West Runton, looking towards Beeston Bump.

Sunset from the cliff top at West Runton, looking towards Beeston Bump - Credit: Catherine Askew/iwitness24