The Norfolk Coast – Seals, Sand and Samphire

The Norfolk Coast Path is a recognised National Trail. It begins at the seaside town of Hunstanton in west Norfolk, and takes you all the way to Cromer.  If you walked the entire path, you’d find hundreds of interesting places, many areas of outstanding natural beauty, and important nature reserves.

The total distance is around 45 miles, so it’ll take you a good two or three days, but you don’t have to cover the whole route from start to finish. Most people pick a section of the walk, and make a leisurely day of it.  Here are just a few of the places you could head towards.

Hunstanton is at the western end of the walk. It’s a very traditional family seaside town. With potato growing land behind it, and the sea ahead of it, it’s the perfect place to eat fish and chips. A walk along the coast will lead you to the well-known stratified, or red and white striped cliffs.

Holme-next-the-Sea is just a few miles north. It’s a small village and a favourite destination for bird enthusiasts, especially in the migration season. Holme Dunes is a beautiful nature reserve just outside the village.

From Holme, the path heads west to Brancaster, Brancaster Staithe and Burnham Deepdale. These three pretty villages are closely grouped together, and there are a small number of attractive pubs offering good food and drink. The area also has one of Britain’s National Nature Reserves, Scolt Head, which has a variety of habitats including some of the best salt marshes in the UK.

Continuing west, Wells-next-the-Sea is a small town and port. Traditionally, it’s famous for its fish, seafood, and the local delicacy, samphire (or glasswort.) This is a coastal vegetable that looks like a tiny cactus without spines. The flavour is comparable to asparagus, but saltier. Samphire is on sale here during the summer months only.

The path then passes the village of Stiffkey, which locals pronounce as ‘stukey.’ This is another good place for food. It’s famous for its cockles, the so-called ‘Stiffkey Blues,’ and also has an excellent pub, the Red Lion.

Blakeney and Cley-next-the-Sea are two more pretty villages situated quite close together, and near to Blakeney Point. This is another popular attraction for wildlife enthusiasts. Blakeney Point is a National Trust owned nature reserve with salt marshes and a 3 mile long sand and shingle spit. Here, you can see dozens of different species of birds all year round, as well as seals basking on the sands.

Sheringham and Cromer are very useful places to know about if you don’t have motor transport; you can get to them by train. Sheringham is a medium-sized seaside town which is well known for its independent shops and the Sheringham Little Theatre. It’s also the start of the North Norfolk Railway, a heritage steam railway that runs back and forth to Holt. Cromer is a much larger seaside town and, as you’d expect, there’s a great deal more to see there. But, once more it’s the theme of food that makes this town unique, the famous Cromer Crab. This local delicacy is still caught and prepared in the town and sold all over the nation.

Cromer is the end of the Norfolk Coast Path, but the coast carries on in a south easterly then southerly direction. Eventually you’ll reach Great Yarmouth, with all its funfairs and arcades. The north coast of Norfolk is a lot quieter in comparison to that, but it’s certainly not lacking in life.

Written by Mike who writes for www.thebritishtravelguide.co.uk and enjoys blogging about his trips to London at www.londondaytrip.co.uk.  You can follow him on twitter  – @payt

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