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100 Miles of the Norfolk Coast

Written by Alice de Courcy Wheeler on

Sunny blue skies above a sandy beach on the Norfolk coast

The Norfolk coast is full of contrasts; wide golden sands, salt marshes and mud flats, picturesque villages and bustling seaside towns all feature along the 100 miles from The Wash in the west to Great Yarmouth in the east.

Setting off round this coastline from the east, you’ll come to Hunstanton, famed for its striking striped cliffs of red and white chalk. The rocks here hide many an ancient fossil for eager eyes to spot and low tide reveals a broad expanse of sand dotted with rock pools just waiting to be explored. The broad beach and shallow sea are popular with watersports enthusiasts; you can watch the experts in action or have a go yourself as local companies offer courses in kitesurfing, windsurfing and stand-up paddle boarding.

These days the traditional village of Old Hunstanton merges with the neighbouring resort town founded by the Victorians. Thanks to its position on The Wash, ‘Sunny Hunny’ is the only west-facing town on the east coast of England, and so the only Norfolk resort where you can enjoy beautiful sunsets over the sea.

Moving round the coast, the series of towns and villages known as The Burnhams include Nelson’s birthplace at Burnham Thorpe and picturesque Burnham Market with its fabulous selection of traditional, specialist and independent shops dotted around the village green.

Stately Holkham Hall sits just inland of Holkham Bay with its vast expanse of golden sands, backed by pinewoods and grassy dunes. Just two miles further is Wells-Next-The-Sea; the beach walk from Holkham to Wells is beautiful at any time of year and a firm favourite with locals and visitors alike. An eye-catching row of colourful beach huts marks the border between sand and pinewoods at Wells; both make perfect playgrounds for kids’ games and adventures.

East of Wells, a string of traditional villages sits behind the coastal National Nature Reserve. Characterised by Norfolk flint cottages, each has something unique to offer you, be it the traditional Red Lion pub in Stiffkey, Morston’s Michelin-starred restaurant, a seal-watching boat trip from Blakeney Harbour or the county’s oldest nature reserve just outside Cley.

Once past these villages, you’ll find two truly delightful Norfolk seaside resorts; the towns of Sheringham and Cromer boast sea and sand, promenades and a pier. From Sheringham, the North Norfolk Railway steams through the rolling countryside to Weybourne and Holt. Cromer is proud to have the highest church tower in the county; climb its 160 steps and you’ll be rewarded with stunning views both out to sea and inland.

Further east again, the Victorian towns give way once more to seaside villages including Mundesley, Bacton and Happisburgh (pronounced Hays-bru!) whose distinctive striped lighthouse is the only independently run lighthouse in the country. Sea Palling and Winterton-on-Sea offer easy access to more of the long, lovely beaches for which Norfolk is so well known.

Finally, a trip round Norfolk’s 100 mile coast ends at Great Yarmouth where families have been enjoying traditional seaside holidays for generations. As well as the golden sands there’s the Golden Mile with its arcades, attractions and not one but two piers! 

Alice de Courcy Wheeler

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