The North Norfolk Coast
Published date: March 2020
North Norfolk’s vast sandy unspoilt beaches are a huge draw for visitors, attracting walkers and families to the county all year round. With room to fly a kite, enjoy a picnic or play ball games in the warmer months, to an invigorating brisk walk on a windswept beach in the winter; both are equally enjoyable.
Explore the north Norfolk coast on foot along the coastal path, by bike through pretty country lanes, aboard the Coasthopper bus service or by car. However you choose to do it, there is so much to see and do in each town and village along the north Norfolk coast, the difficult part is fitting it all in!
Situated between Wells-next-the-Sea and Sheringham, this picturesque coastal village on the north Norfolk coast is probably best known for its seal trips to Blakeney Point, although most actually leave from Morston Quay. Under the care of the National Trust, Blakeney Point is home to England’s largest grey seal colony and many migratory birds, with its marshes and grassy dunes attracting birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts from afar. Georgian frontages, cobblestone fishermen’s cottages and intriguing alleyways that lead to pretty courtyards make Blakeney an interesting coastal village to explore on foot. There are a number of very good pubs and restaurants in the village, a number of shops and galleries and accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets.
For seal trips:
Food and accommodation in Blakeney
Brancaster and Brancaster Staithe are noted for their wealth of bird life and are popular with both birdwatchers and walkers. The beach at Brancaster is beautiful and Brancaster Staithe offers sailing and other water sports. Make sure you check tide times before go to the beach.
Food in Brancaster:
Situated 4 miles from the Norfolk market town of Holt, Cley-next-the-Sea is on the main A149 coast road, which runs through the centre of the village. It has an 18th century windmill that overlooks Cley marshes and nature reserve and is a well-known landmark on the north Norfolk coast. Today the windmill has been transformed into a small guesthouse, with the surrounding boathouse and sheds also now holiday accommodation. Cley-next-the-Sea attracts many visitors each year, especially those who have an interest in bird life and nature. There are over 400 acres of marshland, many boardwalks and bird hides and the elusive bittern can sometimes be spotted here, as well as other rare migrant birds. The village has a number of independent shops and galleries and several places to eat, including one of the loveliest delis in Norfolk, Picnic Fayre.
Food, drink and accommodation in Cley-next-the-Sea:
A very popular sea-side destination in north Norfolk, Cromer is famous for its clean beaches, magnificent pier, fish and chips and its freshly caught crabs and attracts both families and walkers all year round. A visit to the town is not complete without sampling a Cromer crab, a particularly flavoursome and tender brown crab, caught by local fishermen.
One of Cromer’s most recognised landmarks is its pier, which was built in 1900. The pier’s Pavilion Theatre hosts the popular ‘Seaside Special’; the only remaining traditional all year-round end-of-the-pier show in the country. The pier is also home to Cromer RNLI Lifeboat, and the lifeboat station at the end of the pier is open to visitors and well worth a visit. On Cromer’s promenade is The Henry Blogg Museum, a small family friendly museum that is free to enter. It details the life of Henry Blogg, considered Cromer’s greatest hero, who was coxswain of the lifeboat from 1909 – 1947. Highly decorated, Henry Blogg and many other brave men and women have put their lives in danger to rescue strangers from the sea, and this museum tells their incredible stories.
Built in 1833, Cromer lighthouse towers high above the cliffs and today provides holiday accommodation for those visiting the town. In August Cromer sees vast crowds descend on the town during its busiest time, Carnival Week. It’s one of the largest in the UK, and previous attractions have included the world-famous Red Arrows flying team.
Cromer has a great selection of independent and high street shops, coffee shops, restaurants, pubs and of course fish and chip shops. Amazona Zoo is a popular attraction and there is a pitch and putt course, cinema, museums, coastal path, beautiful church and sand and shingle beach, popular for swimming, surfing and kayaking.
This north Norfolk town has an excellent variety of holiday accommodation from camping and caravanning to B&Bs, holiday cottages and luxury hotels.
For more information about Cromer, please go to the following pages:
Overstrand to Cromer coastal walk
The north Norfolk village of Happisburgh is pronounced ’Haisbro’ and is situated between the popular seaside towns of Great Yarmouth and Cromer. Renowned for its striking red and white striped 18th century lighthouse, Happisburgh has a secluded sandy beach perfect for picnics, walks and family days out. There is a picturesque coastal walk from Happisburgh to Sea Palling, another Norfolk village waiting to be explored. Happisburgh village church, St Mary, is a substantial building built in the 15th century.
In 2010 Happisburgh became a site of national archaeological importance, when flint tools dating back over 800,000 years were unearthed, the oldest evidence of human occupation anywhere in the UK. Then in May 2013 a team of scientists led by the British Museum, Natural History Museum and Queen Mary University of London found a number of footprints left by early humans in ancient estuary muds over 800,000 years ago, making them the earliest human footprints outside of Africa.
Food and accommodation in Happisburgh:
The small north Norfolk village of Holkham lies on the A149 coast road between Burnham Overy Staithe and Wells-next-the-Sea and is where you will find the Earl of Leicester’s Holkham Estate. Construction of Holkham Hall, a Palladian style house, commenced in the 18th century, in a park surrounded by 8 miles of wall. Today Holkham Hall is still a family home, on a thriving 25,000-acre agricultural estate, hosting many open-air concerts, weddings and events throughout the year. Parts of the house and gardens are open to the public and there is a holiday park, several shops, café, boat hire, cycle hire, a very popular inn, play areas, wedding and events space and more at Holkham Hall.
Holkham National Nature Reserve is run by the Holkham Estate and is one of the most important reserves in Britain and home to many rare species of flora and fauna. The unspoilt beach at Holkham, with its large expanse of soft golden sands backed by sand dunes and pine woods is one of Norfolk’s most beautiful beaches.
To find out more about Holkham Hall, please use the link below:
Also affectionately known as “Sunny Hunny” Hunstanton got this nickname for having some of the driest sunny weather in England. There are fabulous beaches in Hunstanton, recognised for their cleanliness, amenities and safety and visitors can see some spectacular sunsets across The Wash.
Hunstanton’s town centre has a good variety of independent shops, cafes and restaurants, and this quintessential British seaside town on the north Norfolk coast also has amusements, fish and chip shops, a small fun fair, candy floss, bowls, crazy golf, pitch and putt, pony rides, boat trips and water sports. There is an excellent leisure centre, aquarium, theatre, ten-pin bowling and a tractor train running during the summer to transport visitors the length of Hunstanton’s seafront.
To find out more about what to do when in Hunstanton, please use the following link:
Situated 14 miles north of King’s Lynn and 3 miles south of Hunstanton, the coastal village of Heacham overlooks The Wash. Its church, St Mary, dates from the 13th century and is the oldest surviving building in Heacham. The village is a popular holiday destination with those looking for a traditional seaside resort and has plenty of holiday accommodation.
In 1932 Norfolk Lavender Ltd was founded, and today the lavender farm in Heacham attracts vast numbers of visitors each year. With a variety of attractions including landscaped gardens, petting barn, play park, gift shops, garden centre, tours, talks and uniquely fragrant Norfolk Lavender products and plants, it’s a destination suitable for all ages.
To find out more about Norfolk Lavender, use the following link:
The pretty village of Mundesley in north Norfolk is just over 7 miles south east of Cromer and is a popular seaside destination, regularly receiving awards for its clean beach and water. During the summer months the village’s population swells, when many holidaymakers arrive, attracted by its long stretches of sandy beach, scenic walks, village appeal and amenities. Mundesley has a variety of holiday accommodation, a golf course and driving range where visitors are welcome and a number of independent shops, restaurants, pubs and cafes. The village has a small maritime museum, crazy golf course, skate park and recreation grounds.
Mundesley Golf Club:
On the A149 coast road, the north Norfolk village of Salthouse lies between the picturesque villages of Cley-next-the-Sea and Weybourne. Salthouse is an area of outstanding natural beauty and is popular with bird watchers and walkers who are attracted by the saltmarshes, countryside and rugged coastline. The Norfolk Wildlife Trust nature reserve is a popular destination and the elusive bittern can be seen and heard at this reserve throughout the year. The village has a general store, post office, pub and fish shop and a church, St Nicholas, a fine 15th century building that overlooks the sea.
To find out more about the Norfolk Wildlife Trust in Salthouse, please use the following link:
The small coastal village of Stiffkey, (pronounced stoo-key) is located 4 miles east of Wells-next-the-Sea and has the river Stiffkey running through it, from which it takes its name. Famous for its cockles, known as "Stewkey blues", their blue hue is caused by the mud in which they live.
Walk the Norfolk coast path that skirts the saltmarsh towards Blakeney to the east or to Wells-next-the-Sea to the west. Popular with locals and visitors alike, expect breath-taking views and much birdlife. In an area of outstanding natural beauty, Stiffkey’s saltmarshes create a rich habitat for a wide range of flora and fauna and are managed by the National Trust.
To find out more about Stiffkey Saltmarshes, please use the following link:
The small north Norfolk village of Sea Palling is located 18 miles north east of Norwich, on the coast between Cromer and Great Yarmouth. It has a beautiful sandy beach and has been awarded and retained the coveted Blue Flag award for several years. Seals can often be seen near to the shore and from May to September has lifeguards on duty. Popular for swimming and other water sports, this is a great beach for the whole family.
Sea Palling church, St Margaret, is Saxon, with further additions during the 14th century. The village has a number of shops and cafés, a children’s play area, amusements, toilet block and a pub and a variety of holiday accommodation.
A popular holiday destination on the beautiful north Norfolk coast, Sheringham is a busy seaside town with a good variety of independent shops, cafes, restaurants, pubs and a market. There is an eighteen-hole golf course, theatre, leisure centre and museums and plenty of holiday accommodation, from camping and caravanning and holiday cottages to B&Bs and hotels.
The beach at Sheringham is mostly stone and shingle but when the tide is out there is plenty of sand and lots of rock pools and is great for picnics and ball games, tide permitting.
The North Norfolk Steam Railway runs from the old Sheringham station, through Weybourne and on to Holt. This is a great way of seeing the beautiful Norfolk coastline and surrounding countryside and is a popular tourist attraction.
Owned by the National Trust, Sheringham Park has several way-marked routes of various distance, with spectacular viewpoints and a tree-top gazebo to climb. During May and June visitors can marvel at magnificent displays of rhododendrons and azaleas, when they are at their best. Dogs are welcome and there is a visitor centre, shop and café.
For more information about the North Norfolk Railway, please use the following link:
To find out more about Sheringham Museum, go to the following website:
To find out more about Sheringham Park, please use the following link:
For information about hotels in Sheringham, please use the link below:
To see some of Sheringham’s highlights, the following article may be of interest:
Sheringham highlights, things to see and do
The popular north Norfolk seaside town of Wells-next-the-Sea has a long sweeping beach bordered by pine trees and a bustling harbour. The town is a bracing mile-long walk from the sea, a particularly lovely route to take on a warm summer’s day. The brightly painted beach-huts on the soft golden sand make a pretty sight and the scented Corsican pine woods that were planted to protect the land from storms and tides offer shady respite from the sun during the summer months.
The quay at Wells-next-the-Sea is popular for crabbing and the town also offers water sports such as sailing, windsurfing and water skiing. The saltmarshes and channel waters up to the harbour attract a variety of birds throughout the year, making it a popular destination with walkers and bird lovers.
There are plenty of independent shops, restaurants, cafes, pubs and hotels in the town and delightful colour-washed houses. Boat trips are available from the harbour, where you will also find fresh crabs, mussels, samphire and fish and chips. Wells-next-the-Sea has an excellent mix of holiday accommodation, suitable for all tastes and budgets.
For boat trips from Wells-next-the-Sea harbour:
Seafood restaurants in Wells-next-the-Sea:
Weybourne is a coastal village on the north Norfolk coast, midway between the towns of Holt and Sheringham. Straddling the A149 coast road, Weybourne is a pretty village with delightful old brick and flint cottages and has a variety of holiday accommodation from camping and caravanning to self-catering, hotel and B&B. It is on the route for the Holt to Sheringham, North Norfolk Railway where you can catch a steam train and enjoy the stunning scenery that Norfolk has to offer.
There are several waymarked walks through Weybourne Woods and there is a popular walk down to the sea and along the coastal footpath to Sheringham. The Muckleburgh Collection, the UK’s largest privately owned military museum is housed at the former MOD Weybourne Camp in the village. This is a popular tourist attraction and suitable for all ages.
Weybourne Windmill is a five-storey red brick tower mill that was built in 1850. Over the years the mill has undergone extensive restoration work and today it’s a private residence and a distinctive landmark in Weybourne that can be seen for miles.
To find out more about the North Norfolk Railway, please go to their website:
Details about the Muckleburgh Collection can be found on their website: