It’s official, Norfolk has some of the best beaches in the UK!
6 of our North Norfolk beaches have been awarded the prestigious blue flag status which means our beaches are amongst the cleanest and safest in the country.
The Eastern Daily Press wrote that “East Runton and West Runton have joined Cromer, Mundesley, Sea Palling and Sheringham in being awarded prestigious Blue Flag status. The international quality mark recognises their high standards of cleanliness and safety, as well as the water quality.”
I’ve travelled to some wonderful far away places with the hope and expectations that we’ll find ourselves on those remote and deserted white sandy beaches that we’ve all seen and dreamt of, listening to the gentle lapping of the waves and the sun dappling through the palm trees whilst drinking my Pina Colada out of a coconut husk, swinging gently in a hammock (actually more likely to be a cold beer!) without a care in the world……..are you there??
Those beaches are out there and we’ve found ourselves on some beautiful beaches around the world but I honestly have to say some of my most memorable beach moments are right here in the UK and many in Norfolk.
I’ve been lucky to have now walked the Norfolk Coast Path from Hunstanton to Hopton-on-Sea a fair few times. It was my first long distance walk and since setting up MarGins Walking and Glamping Holidays, I’ve re-walked the whole 84 miles on my own with my beloved pooch Brylie taking photo’s and notes to develop our Information Pack all our guests receive prior to their walking holiday.
I have to admit, I’m totally smitten with the Norfolk Coast. Why? because it’s so diverse and there is something for everyone to enjoy and experience.
Our guests are falling in love with the Norfolk beaches to: “Most amazing beaches I’ve ever seen” and “We loved every minute of the walk and I cannot recommend this glorious coastline enough, which is hauntingly beautiful in all the shifting light of the day, too much. One of the best walks I have ever done.”
As our walking holidays generally start in Hunstanton I’ll take you through some of the beaches our guests experience on a MarGins walking holiday:
Hunstanton (or Sunny Hunny) – has the most spectacular red and white striped cliffs plus it’s the only West facing town on the East coast so the sunsets are amazing!
Old Hunstanton – has the iconic coloured beach huts scattered throughout the sand dunes. I love the vast sandy beach from here through Holme-next-the-Sea to Thornham. You walk through the Norfolk Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve with panoramic views out to sea, across the vast sandy beach, the marram grass clad sand dunes, pine forest standing tall and elegant plus water ways swarming with wildlife.
Brancaster beach – another must see. A sandy beach as far as the eye can see, even in peak season you will be able to find a tranquil spot. It’s a very popular beach for kite sports, fantastic to sit and watch.
Holkham – one of my most memorable moments has to be walking the Norfolk Coast Path from Burnham Overy Staithe along the ridge path, meandering through the marshes and creeks towards the sand dunes, early one September morning last year. Climbing the sand dune up to the Norfolk Coast Path sign and voila! the view literally took my breath away (I’m getting goose bumps now as I write this and remember that moment). It was a still and sunny morning, the tide was way out and all we could see was miles of flat sandy beach shimmering as the sun reflected off the lows the sea water had left behind shortly before. To the left looking out to sea was the beautiful Scolt Head Island and to the right miles of sandy beach, sand dunes and the Holkham pine forest standing proud in the distance. The only footprints and paw prints in the sand that morning were ours….total bliss!
Wells-next-the-Sea – is another iconic scene with the coloured beach huts on stilts and the natural pine forest as a backdrop that is great for shade and to explore.
Stiffkey and Blakeney – are both beaches that are not the easiest to get to but are really worth the journey and the experience! You do need to watch the tides though as you can easily get caught out. To get to Stiffkey beach you can take a path, crossing quirky wooden bridges, with a spot of mud hopping, across the salt marshes, until you reach the beautiful expanse of remote beach. This is definitely a spot to find a welcoming quietness…….and then there’s beautiful Blakeney Point. A four mile long shingle spit offering protection to Blakeney Harbour and the surrounding saltmarshes, providing a perfect habitat for the vast array of residential and migratory wildlife. You can take a boat trip out to see the grey seals any time of year.
Cley-next-the-Sea to Weybourne – a 5 mile stretch of shingle passing Cley-next-the-Sea Nature Reserve, very popular with bird watchers. Although probably the most challenging section of the Coast Path, the crunch of the pebbles under foot, the sound of the sea over the shingle and the welcoming short sections of sand dunes and marram grass, all make this a beach not to be left out.
Sheringham to Sea Palling – This stretch changes again and is where you will find the 6 beaches that have been awarded the blue flag status. Sheringham, West and East Runton, Cromer, Mundesley and Sea Palling are all family friendly beaches made up of sand and shingle sections, rock pools to explore plus amenities that will all make for a fun seaside experience. East and West Runton is an important section of our Deep History Coast and where the remains of a mammoth were found and only recently another major find was discovered on West Runton beach. You will be relieved to know that the majority of the Norfolk Coast Path follows the cliffs above the beaches so you don’t have to walk on the soft sand and shingle!
Mundesley to Bacton – I have a fondness for this stretch of beach. When the tide is out, you are left with vast stretches of hard sand, easy to walk on and glimmering in the sunlight. You do need to watch the tide times though on this section as it is part of the Norfolk Coast Path and the sea can come in right up to the cliffs.
Happisburgh – with the backdrop of the iconic Happisburgh lighthouse this is not a beach to miss out. Archaeological excavations on Happisburgh Beach have revealed that ancient humans lived in Britain more than 800,000 years ago, making them the earliest northern Europeans. This is a great place for beach combing (another hobby of ours and subject for another blog). I also love the quirky homes you pass all along this stretch of coastline, some have been made into lovely seaside retreats with big veranda’s and porches where long lazy summers could be spent very easily……
Eccles, Sea Palling, Horsey, Winterton – all vast sandy beaches of soft sand backed by miles of marram clad sand dunes under the umbrella of Norfolk’s big skies. Plus the place to spot a grey seal, although they have usually clocked you first with their heads popping up out of the sea following your progress as you wander along the beach.
Great Yarmouth – all the fun of the fair and enough seaside amenities to last a life time but the beach is miles of soft sand.
Gorleston – this is quite a sight as you emerge from walking alongside the industrial shipping area of Great Yarmouth and Gorleston. A vast expanse of sandy beach with a mile long promenade to wander along until you reach the sandy beaches of Hopton-0n-Sea, which is the end of the Norfolk and England Coast Path before you head into Suffolk.
One of the first things I wanted to do when we made the decision to launch MarGins Walking and Glamping Holidays was find a poem that summed up the Norfolk Coast for me whilst out walking, so I’m going to leave you with a beautiful poem written by Aliali, that I feel totally captures my love of walking the Norfolk Coast and it’s breathtaking beaches, I hope you love it as much as I do……..
Walking in the sun and breeze, distant sea for me a please
On this heathland open air, empty mind, set free from care.
The happiest, I feel the most, is when I’m here beside the coast……