What to do on the north Norfolk coast

With miles of wild, windswept coastline, seaside towns and fine local fare, the north Norfolk coast has rural, rugged charm in abundance. We look at the unmissable highlights, from hiking the Norfolk Coast Path to sailing on the salt marshes.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020,
By Charlotte Wigram-Evans
Make sure to take a pair of binoculars when visiting Norfolk —  from November to March, ...

Make sure to take a pair of binoculars when visiting Norfolk —  from November to March, it’s common to see thousand-strong skeins of pink-footed geese taking off in unison from the salt marshes.


Photograph by Getty

Why go

Strung with vast and often-deserted beaches, the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is one of the county’s primary draws. It’s not just the beaches that lure visitors, however — backed by dunes and fringed with pine forests, this dramatic, 175sq-mile stretch of rural England also features mudflats and saltmarshes that teem with a rich variety of wildlife. Base yourself in the heart of the AONB and you’ll find plenty to while away a weekend: charming flint houses and medieval churches in sleepy villages like Wells-next-the-Sea and Burnham Market, bracing walks in the sea breeze, and a fantastic food scene, with fresh, locally caught fish taking a starring role on menus all along the coast. visitnorfolk.co.uk

What to do

Thanks to the Norfolk Coast Path, you can explore a large part of the coastline on foot. The nine-mile stretch from Salthouse to Cromer is perhaps the most dramatic section of the route: the path snakes through rippling marram grass, empty stretches of shingle beaches and up onto windy bluffs, with the North Sea a dramatic backdrop. Birdwatching opportunities are plenty — so remember to take a pair of binoculars — and, from November to March, it’s common to see thousand-strong skeins of pink-footed geese taking off in unison from the salt marshes.


Holkham Hall sits in a 25,000-acre agricultural estate complete with boating lake and sweeping parkland,

Photograph by Holkham Hall

We like

Holkham Hall is a magnificent example of 18th-century Palladian architecture.  Home to the Earls of Leicester for more than 400 years, its walls are hung with ancient artworks from famous names like Rubens and Van Dyck. Just as impressive are the grounds — the house sits in a 25,000-acre agricultural estate complete with boating lake and sweeping parkland, where herds of fallow deer roam freely. 

Where to stay

On the Holkham Estate, five minutes from both the beach and the Hall, The Victoria Inn brims with country charm. Its 20 rooms are light, spacious and high-ceilinged, with views stretching out across the open parkland. Fires roar in open grates, dogs are welcome, and, in the drawing room, guests can help themselves to port and whisky from hand-carved decanters before sinking into armchairs — a welcome end to a long day’s walk. 

The Coastal Exploration Company take visitors out into Norfolk's maze-like mud flats in skippered traditional wooden fishing boats.

Photograph by Coastal Exploration Co.

Where to eat

The White Horse Inn looks out towards the lobster pots, oyster beds and saltmarshes of Scolt Head Island, so it’s little wonder that shellfish is the main event at this Brancaster Staithe restaurant. Pan-seared scallops are perfectly plump, and mussels come in a delicious garlic cream. For a slightly more relaxed setting, head to The Globe Inn in Wells-next-the-Sea for an enormous bowl of king prawn squid ink linguine.

Don’t miss

Take a sailing boat into Norfolk’s salt marshes with the Coastal Exploration Company. The maze of tiny waterways, often no more than 4ft deep and flanked by towering sandbanks feels like one of the UK’s last true wildernesses. Keep an eye out for the seals around Scolt Head Island — Norfolk has the biggest colony in the UK, with pups born around November.

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