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A mammoth adventure along the North Norfolk coast

P

eering down from the cliffs onto busy West Runton beach, it was hard to picture this land in the hands – or should that be at the feet – of now-extinct creatures such as giant deer and mammoths, let alone rhinos, hyenas and our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Yet evidence of this is everywhere in Norfolk, and the endless natural history artefacts found here have cemented the area’s reputation as one of the UK’s leading destinations for geology, archaeology and palaeontology enthusiasts.

“As well as the largest and oldest mammoth ever found in Britain, Norfolk has the oldest human footprints outside of Africa,” according to David Waterhouse, senior natural history curator at Norfolk Museum Services. “And it’s the only county in the UK to have evidence of four different species of human.”

Thankfully, you don’t need to be an expert to get a flavour of what life was like here 850,000 years ago – with the help of a free app, it’s easier than ever to discover it for yourself.

The DHC Explorer Augmented Reality (AR) app covers the coastal Discovery Trail, which snakes some 22 miles from Weybourne to Cart Gap. The trail itself is divided into 10 manageable walking routes, much of which is clifftop, with segments along the beach and occasional detours inland.  

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The app brings all of this to life with a map, tide times (essential for some of the beach sections), oodles of information, games for younger ones (you can virtually collect mammoth bones as you go), and a collection of AR characters. Along the way, there are 11 Discovery Points – monolith-like info boards – that offer a window into the world of the Hominin family, who share facts about different locations through the app.

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