Walking in North Norfolk is the best way to experience this beautiful stretch of England’s coastline. Here’s the route we did last year with all the details on how you can do the same…
My long weekend cycling and walking in North Norfolk last year, was great. Norfolk totally lived up to the hype and we had a brilliant time exploring the coast. We wanted to make the most of our few days in Norfolk and ended up seeing quite a bit along the North Norfolk Coast Path, although I’d totally go back and see more.
I wanted to put together this guide to your long weekend walking in North Norfolk to help you decide where to go from all the worthy places along the coast.
Go walking in North Norfolk and you can enjoy wide beaches, tidal marshes filled with birdlife and pretty villages. You can indulge in fresh seafood in cosy inns, traditional pubs and crab shacks, and enjoy the open views across hinterlands and wide sands.
With this itinerary for a long weekend walking in North Norfolk you’ll spend 4 days along the North Norfolk coast from Holkham and Wells-next-the-Sea, to Blakeney and Cley.
Weekend Walking in North Norfolk
This post is in collaboration with Visit England and Discover England’s Great Walking Trails, but I went on the trip independently last year. If you’d like to know more about the coastal paths in England, check out NationalTrail.co.uk. Click here if you’d like more details on walking the North Norfolk Coastal Path, but read this post first!
Day 1: Wells-next-the-Sea
Wells-next-the-Sea was the first stop on our North Norfolk walking weekend. This traditional Norfolk fishing village is one of the most popular spots in the area.
It feels like there are two sides to Wells-next-the-Sea. First up you have the pretty village – all boutique shops, coffee shops and visitors sat around on the sea wall either crabbing or ‘gillying’ as the locals call it, or enjoying lunch time fish and chips.
If you go the other way from the centuries old harbour though, you can either drive or walk the 25-minutes along the embankment to the wide expanse of beach. Wells-next-the-Sea is a popular spot though – the car park had big ‘FULL’ signs when we walked past, so we were glad we’d walked along the embankment along the estuary there. It was an easy quest, and made the journey even better as we enjoyed the birds circling overhead, and the boats marooned with the tide. Apparently there are often seals here too, but no such luck for us.
Reach the end and you’re at the coast. Look to your left and you’ll see the famous Wells-next-the-Sea colourful stilted beach huts.
Now you have a choice: sit and relax and enjoy the beach and shallow waters, or carry on walking Norfolk’s north coast. Of course if you get there early enough, you can do both.
See the drone pic I took above? You can walk back the long way to Wells-next-the-Sea village in a loop, if you follow the Corsican pines around. Take the time to soak up the forest, and maybe do some forest bathing while you’re there.
Keep walking around, either on the path through the forest, or on white sand Holkham Beach. Your next stop is the Lookout Cafe at Holkham Gap. This is where Lady Anne’s Drive meets the trail. You can stock up with soup, sausage rolls, and tea and coffee here to take a scenic break.
Carry on walking west to where the pines end, then veer inland, to return east via the Holkham Meals Forest. Enjoy the grazing marshes, home to spoonbills, geese and many kinds of birds.
You can walk back through Holkham National Nature Reserve, via the nearby Victoria Inn for dinner if you’re hungry. I’d recommend going back to Wells-next-the-Sea to freshen up though, and then watching the sunset with some proper fish and chips by the sea.
If you’re back sooner than you expected, or the weather wasn’t playing fair to enjoy a day on the beach, then head to the flint-stone village, Burnham Market 5 miles away. Here you can eat at The Hoste Arms or Socius, where you’ll find locally sourced seasonal produce. You can get there and back via the Coasthopper bus if you don’t want to walk that far.
The Coasthopper bus runs every hour and is a great way to get around along the North Norfolk Coast.
Where to eat in Wells
Or, you could go to one of the many great restaurants in Wells-next-the-Sea – book early to get a table though!
Where to stay in Wells
Spend the night in Wells-next-the-Sea. The Edinburgh Inn in Wells-next-the-sea is very highly recommended, it’s a friendly pub with B&B rooms and a restaurant called Ollies.
Walking near Wells
Walking time: around 10 miles / 3 hours 20 mins + extra if you walk to Burnham Market, 5 miles away
Click here to see the Google map for day one of walking in North Norfolk
Day 2: Holkham & Walsingham
Right, time to up the mileage in the whole ‘walking in North Norfolk’ mission. It’s just a 45-minute walk from Wells-next-the-Sea, to reach the gates of Holkham Hall, and about two miles.
It’s the walking around Holkham Hall that’ll improve the number on your step counter.
This 18th-century Palladian-style house sits on a 25,000-acre estate. The best things to do at Holkham Hall include roaming the deer park, following the trails, eating lunch at the cafe and listening in to some Holkham Stories to learn more about the estate’s revolutionary farming heritage (and ride a tractor).
You could spend anything from a few hours to the whole day here.
Once you’re done, head back to Wells, either by walking the two miles, or getting the Coasthopper. Carry on walking past Wells-next-the-Sea and hop aboard the Wells & Walsingham Light Railway, the world’s smallest public trainline. Its tiny cars steam through the countryside from Wells-next-the-Sea to the village of Walsingham, a key pilgrimage site from the 11th century, when Lady Walsingham had visions of the Virgin Mary. Visit the monastery ruins, shrines and museums.
Or, you could go alpaca trekking in Wells.
Stay the night at your hotel in Wells-next-the-Sea again, not before checking out Whin Hill Norfolk Cider first though. And see if there’s anything going on at Wells Maltings for the evening though. It’s a theatre, cinema and event space too.
Walking near Holkham
Walking time: around 14 miles but it really depends on what you choose today, and whether you choose to get taxis and trains. Lots of miles on the table for you to step up to though!
Click to see the map for day two of this walking in North Norfolk itinerary.
Day 3: Morston & Blakeney
There’s every chance you’ll totally sleep through it thanks to the ciders last night, but the sunrises here are special. If you can get up for it, do. The first rays break in the east, the light glitters off the creeks and shallows, and the dawn chorus is in full song. Beautiful start to the day.
Enjoy a takeaway breakfast from the Wells Deli.
We’re walking along the Norfolk Coast Path today, from Wells-next-the-sea to Morston. Enjoy that sea breeze!
Stiffkey is a charming little village totally worth a detour, nestled in a wooded river valley. There’s also a great village shop where you can pick up some Norfolk delicacies for the journey, or to take home with you.
Get back on the Norfolk Coast Path and soak up the views all the way to Morston. Morston is a tiny fishing hub with a great foodie reputation – and is home to the Michelin-starred Morston Hall.
Keep walking to Blakeney and this is where you can get your boat trips to the resident seals at Blakeney Point from. A highlight any time of year, but extra special in winter when the white fluffy pups are born. Make sure to book your trip as soon as you have your dates as the trips can get booked up pretty quickly.
Where to eat in Blakeney
Café TMC is a homely cafe in Blakeney, with great cake!
Or, you can pick up an easy takeaway dinner from the street food stalls at the point where you get the boats from. You won’t find fresher crab!
Where to stay in Blakeney
Tonight you could either keep your accommodation in Wells, and get a taxi back. Or bring your stuff with you and stay at one of the many great accommodations in Blakeney.
Walking near Blakeney
Walking time: around 8 miles / 2 hours 30.
Click to see the map for day three of this walking in North Norfolk itinerary.
Day 4: Cley Marshes
If you’re staying in Blakeney you’ll wake up to a beautiful peaceful spot, with masts chinking on the quay and a cluster of quiet, cobbled lanes. If you didn’t manage to get on a seal trip the night before, then you have another chance this morning.
If you want to do the North Norfolk Coastal Path on your own, here are my top tips for walking alone to help you build up your confidence.
If you’ve been there, done that, then you can hire a dinghy or a paddleboard here and explore at your own pace.
Or, get cracking on walking the Norfolk Coast Path!
Get back on the path. Head east along the sand bank via the saltmarshes. The change in tides ensures you’ll always have a unique view here, with new wildlife to see. Take your time and enjoy the view.
Before you know it the path will bend inland into the lovely little Cley-next-the-sea. Here you’ll find a pretty windmill, and sweet lanes of little shops and cafes.
Stop and have a look around, relax, enjoy.
At Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s Cley Marshes there’s an internationally important mosaic of reedbeds and brackish lagoons, alive with birds. Look out for avocet, bittern, marsh harrier, sandpiper and huge flocks of pink-footed geese.
The Cley Marsh Visitor Centre serves cakes and coffees so sit and enjoy to take it all in.
Come back to the East Bank and wending, via Walsey Hills and Bard Hill to reach Salthouse. The highlight of this pretty little village is St Nicholas Church – where local art is often on display – and the heath. Salthouse Heath has great views from the escarpment, over the gorse scrub, woodland, villages and marshes, far out to sea.
Have a look around here and you’ll find archaeological sites, including a Bronze Age cemetery, as well as World War II remains.
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Where to eat in Salthouse
Ready for dinner? The Dun Cow serves traditional pub meals.
You could stay in Salthouse tonight, but seeing as it’s only 4 miles from Blakeney I’d save the hassle and just walk back again with the reverse view!
Walking near Salthouse
Walking time: around 4 miles / 1 hours 15.
Click to see the map for day three of this walking in North Norfolk itinerary.
Walking in North Norfolk
Walking the Norfolk Coast Path is a great way to explore Norfolk, and England. The Norfolk Coastal Path is part of the English Coast Path – the world’s longest continuous coastal trail.
Take the opportunity to walk it and you’ll pass through seaside towns, picturesque villages and landscapes rich in wildlife, heritage and geological interest. As well as the route set out here you can explore inland using the many connecting footpaths. There’s plenty of opportunity to make your trip longer!
And if you like the sound of the North Norfolk Coast, but you’d rather do it as a road trip – check out my North Norfolk road trip itinerary here.
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