The North Norfolk coast is a walker's paradise, with rare wildlife, stunning views, miles of sandy beaches and no shortage of country inns to keep you refreshed. There are many walks to choose from in this area, but in this week's blog post we've chosen three of our favourites: Hunstanton to Thornham, Brancaster Staithe to Burnham Overy Staithe and Wells-next-the-Sea to Cley. These are all fairly mild walks, with the longest being just under 10 miles.
Hunstanton to Thornham
Length: 5.5 miles
Time: 2 1/2 hours
This short coastal walk is part of the Norfolk Coast Path National Trail so it's well signposted and easy to follow. The walk begins in Hunstanton and will take you from the stunning three tiered cliffs of Hunstanton beach, through the Norfolk Wildlife Trust Holme Dunes Nature Reserve and on to the famous Old Coal Shed at Thornham.
The walk begins in Hunstanton, and to get going you just need to follow the Norfolk Coast Path to the east, keeping the sea to your left. The route will take you either over the cliffs of Hunstanton, or along the beach if the tide is out. Whichever route you choose you're sure to enjoy some splendid views. The cliff-top walk is perhaps the most scenic, with the ruins of St Edmunds Chapel and the white lighthouse being two particular highlights.
When you reach Old Hunstanton Beach, you will continue on along the coastal path at the back of the dunes, keeping the golf course to your right, and sea to your left. Continuing on this route you will soon reach the Holme Dunes Nature Reserve, where the Peddars Way, which begins in Rushford, meets the Norfolk Coast Path. If you're a nature lover, keep an eye out for the rare birds which thrive in this area, including barn owls and avocets. Walking beyond the sand dunes of Holme, you will reach a pine forest, followed by marshes and meadows.
By this point you'll be approaching Thornham. Keep an eye out for the beautiful Old Coal Shed, and head inland, following the coastal path signs. When you reach the village of Thornham, your walk is finished, and it's time to put your feet up, or head home. If you're travelling by public transport, the coasthopper bus-stop to Hunstanton is directly outside the Thornham Deli.
Brancaster Staithe to Burnham Overy Staithe
Length: 4.5 miles
Time: 1 3/4 hours
This is another easy stroll along the Norfolk Coast Path across salt marshes and meadows, which takes in a windmill and a Roman Fort, with the optional inclusion of three pubs.
The walk from Brancaster Staithe to Burnham Overy Staithe begins at the harbour in Brancaster Staithe. From here you will want to walk east, keeping the sea to your left, towards Burnham Overy windmill in the distance. You remain on the Norfolk Coast Path for the entirety of the walk, and as long as you don't stray from this (and that you stop when you get to Burnham Overy Staithe) there is very littel room for error.
The first attraction of the walk is the site of Brancaster's famous Roman fort, once known as Branodunum. Dating back to the third century, Branodunum is one of a series of 'shore forts' constructed by the Romas to keep the sea-borne Saxon raiders at bay. Branodunum served as barracks for the Roman army for 150 years, before the empire collapsed, and the fort was abandoned.
When you reach Burnham Overy Staithe, you will draw closer to the windmill which began as a point in the far distance at the outset of your walk. Windmills tend to be quietly awe inspiring, and the Burnham Overy Windmill is no exception. It is a particuarly fine spectacle on a summer's day when set against a clear blue sky.
During the course of the walk you will have access to ample refreshments by the way of three pubs: The White Horse, The Jolly Sailors and The Ship Inn. Each of these is accessible from the Norfolk Coast Path, with helpfully placed markers to point you in the appropriate direction.
Wells-next-the-Sea to Cley
Length: 9.9 miles
Time: 4 hours
Finally we venture into the heart of North Norfolk and take in Wells-next-the-Sea and Cley. This is a beautiful flat walk, which begins in one of Norfolk's finest seaside towns and ends in a charming little village with a very famous windmill.
As with all walks on the North Norfolk coast, you can expect picturesque vistas and lots of wildlife, particularly birds, but also seals which can be found on the sandbanks of Cley.
To start your walk, begin at Well Quayside and follow the road east. Follow the main road round and through to a minor road. When the road ends, take the left hand path which leads through the boatyard. Keep to the path as you climb up to the sea wall and then turn left at the end of the wall. Continue on through the wooded area, and, after you pass a gate and track to the right, continue on the coastal path. You will shortly join a tarmac path, leaving the grassy path to the right, now go on ahead through the car park and take wide track on the far side.
As you take the path up the sea wall you will walk alongside Stiffkey Fen. When you come to the end of the sea wall take the path to the left marked by a yellow arrow. Keep right on grass path and cross the muddy areato the righ-hand track along the wire fence. Continue on this track along the sea wall, climb down the wooden stairs and head towards Morston Sailing Club. From the car park follow the path along the seas to Blakeney.
Follow the path from Morston all the way into the picturesque village of Blakeney. From the car park, continue along the sea wall. Turn right at the end of the barbed wire fence beyond the ruins of the Blakeney Chapel and you will see Cley Windmill come into view. Bear right when you reach the sea wall close to Cley.
Finally, climb the stile and take a left, arriving in the village of Cley and concluding your walk.
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