It’s hardly surprising that people talk about Nelson’s Norfolk.
Even in a county where the openness of the landscape vies with the vastness of the skies, it is the rim of coastline which steals the show. Trafalgar’s hero learnt to sail in those timeless creeks of the North Norfolk Coast. Today the sailing still attracts a gentle yachting fraternity and the visiting feathered migrants draw in the occasional flock of birdwatchers. It is the sheer beauty and tranquility of Norfolk’s coastline which is the ultimate pull. Wild, real, far-reaching and oh- so-varied, it is literally awesome and well deserves its designation as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
We can’t pinpoint which bit we’ve fallen in love with the most - and we’re sure you’ll soon secure your own favourite spot anyway. Nevertheless, we’ve tried to give a little background to a few key places included in our walking tours.
Find out more about our Norfolk - based walking breaks
This ancient port at the mouth of the River Glaven is a pretty village full of quaint flint fishermen's cottages, and busy in summer with yachts and other pleasure craft which can make the passage up the narrow channel from the sea. Boat trips run from the quay to see the famous seal colony on Blakeney Point, a 3½ mile long sand and shingle spit.
Haunting at sunset, sparkling and alive at high tide - the little fishing village of Brancaster is a jolly sort of place full of bustle and boats - where the sea air has a extra frisson of anticipation. A great place to take part or observe, this is what messing about by the water is all about. Brancaster is noted for its mussels and they are spectacular views over the saltmarshes.
The largest of seven 'Burnham' villages, Burnham Market has affectionately been given the alternative name of Chelsea-on-Sea. The 18th C. houses, refined green and selection of craft, book and antique shops lend it undeniable serenity and elegance. This area is connected with the great seafarer Lord Nelson, whost father was rector at nearby Burnham Thorpe.
Once an important wool port, Cley is now a charming little village with flint and brick cottages, alongside the occasional seafood shop and tearoom. It is most famously recognised by its redbrick tower mill which punctuates the landscape, looking out over the saltmarshes towards the sea and the Norfolk Coast Path.
Cromer is synonymous with delicious fresh crabs, caught by its fleet of little fishing boats which still work from the sandy beaches. A gentle seaside resort, Cromer stands on the cliff tops, looking out respectably to the sea with a certain detached elegance. The town is renowned for its pier and lifeboat station.
Head down Lady Anne's Drive between the marshes to Holkham Gap, and some of the widest sandy stretches you may ever see. The sea is out there, but the beach which seems endless and golden is disturbed only by little streamlets and shallow water pools. The soft, flat sand is backed by dunes in places as well as strips of pine forest. The Peddars Way long distance path runs along the beach and through the trees here from Burnham Overy to Wells-next-the-Sea.
Home to the Earl of Leicester and his family, this 18th C. Palladian-style mansion is part of a great agricultural estate and a living treasure house of artistic and cultural history. Explore impressive grand interiors (such as the Marble Hall) and fascinating old kitchens. There is an interesting Bygones Museum, History of Farming Exhibition and wonderful parkland to explore, complete with deer, walled gardens, an ice house, obelisk and massive fountains.
Known as England's only resort on the East Coast to actually face west, Hunstanton is an attractive seaside haunt with wide greens lined sedately by Victorian and Georgian architecture. The beaches here are large and sandy. To the north the village of Old Hunstanton has distinctive red and white striped cliffs.
Cobbles, cottages and a cluster of lanes and quaysides, Morston is as quaint as Norfolk comes. The surrounding marshes turn purple with sea lavender come the summer months, and as well as welcoming sailing boats, the quayside is home to boat trips out to Blakeney Point to see the seals.
Set on the North Norfolk Coast, this mosaic of wetland and coastal habitats are carefully safeguarded to attract a diversity of bird species. The reserve boasts nationally important numbers of Marsh Harriers, Bittern, Bearded Tits and Avocets. Reed beds and shallow lagoons lead down to the sandy beach.
Little boats still bring in a daily catch to this traditional seaside resort which grew up out of an old fishing village. At low tide, the large, sandy beach reveals rock pools and fossils can be found on the stretch between Sheringham and Cromer. The North Norfolk Railway operates steam and diesel train rides from here.
In the safe-keeping of The National Trust, Sheringham Park is renowned for its display of Rhododendrons (from early May into June), alongside superb views from gazebo's across rolling landscapes to the North Norfolk Coast - courtesy of landscape gardener Humphry Repton. He described this as his favourite work. This is a great place to get a glimpse of the steam trains of the North Norfolk Railway as they cut through the timeless countryside.
A little village lined with flint and red-brick cottages, renowned for its smuggling history, creeks and sandy beach. During the 18th and 19th C. it had a large harbour and was a popular place for smugglers, who would sink their contraband off the coast in waterproof containers.
A picturesque town of narrow streets and flint cottages, with chic shops, eateries and art galleries. Wells is still a small port used by coasters, as well as the local shrimp and whelk boats. The lovely sandy beach one mile north, with its stilted beach huts, can be reached by a narrow gauge railway.