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10 reasons to visit Norfolk

Peter Williamson, 08 April, 2021
What makes the North Norfolk coast such a wonderful place to walk? Inntravel's Peter Williamson shares his top 10 highlights – from fantastic nature reserves to fabulous accommodation.
 
It's flat!
Which means you are treated to easy walking, big skies and even bigger views. Despite the lack of gradient, walking in Norfolk is always interesting, as the scenery is constantly shifting – no two stretches of beach are the same.

All trails in the area are well-signposted – it's impossible to get lost! – with some of our routes taking in sections of the Norfolk Coast Path, a long-distance National Trail. The bus network is also excellent: you can jump on and off the local buses (pay locally) as you choose, shortening or lengthening walks to suit your preferences.
Top-notch accommodation
The accommodation featured on our Norfolk walking holidays is superb, and all very different. 

You begin at the Rose & Crown in Snettisham – everyone’s romantic vision of an English country inn with its open fires, twisty passages and roses climbing around the door. Next up is the Victoria – an impressive Victorian property located at the gates of Holkham Hall – and then you have a choice: spend your final two nights at beautiful Blakeney House, or upgrade to the 200-year-old Cley Windmill, a uniquely magical place to stay.
'Staithes'
There are many small harbours, or 'staithes', along Norfolk’s 100-mile coastline – these were once vital to England's trading efforts and were used for landing and sending goods. Today, there are still many small vessels clustered in their creeks, but these tend to be pleasure crafts, from yachts to dinghies, canoes and paddle boards.

Once of my favourite harbours on the North Norfolk coast is Burnham Overy Staithe – it's a great place to stop for a rest and refreshments, and to watch the world go by.
The birdlife
Wildlife – and particularly birds – are everywhere in North Norfolk: from bitterns and marsh harriers in summer to wildfowl and waders in the cooler months. As you pass through a different nature reserve every day, there's always something to catch your eye – I last visited in August, when I saw lots of white egrets and spoonbills.

When walking from Holkham to Blakeney or Cley, you also have the opportunity to take a break from the trails and enjoy a seal-watching boat trip – this particular stretch of coast is home to the UK’s largest seal colony.
Wildflowers
At the time of my visit, there were flowers everywhere – in the meadows, outside the pretty flint-and-brick cottages and even on the sea marshes, which are coated in purple lavender every July and August.

Despite its name, sea lavender is not a member of the lavender family, but its beautiful mauve flowers are one of the defining images of Norfolk in summer. Most of what you will see is common sea lavender, although there are three other species in the region – each much rarer and more restricted in range and habitat.
The food
Where do I start?! There is a glut of local produce – seafood in particular, but also great local tipples such as Adnams beer and cider from Wells – as well as many wonderful places to eat out.

You will find smokehouses in Burnham Deepdale, at the White Horse Inn and in Cley, and many of the tiny staithes have huts selling fresh crabs, prawns, cockles and even samphire – a crisp, locally foraged sea vegetable that is particularly tasty with butter.
Very pretty
There are so many glorious sights in North Norfolk, the brightly painted beach huts at Wells-next-the-Sea being one of my absolute favourites. I also love the red-and-white-striped cliffs of Old Hunstanton, and the views from Wiveton Downs.

Of all the pretty villages and historic towns, the most charming has to be Burnham Market, which not only boasts graceful Georgian architecture, but also many independent eateries and specialist shops.
Culture
Norfolk certainly has its fair share of vast landed estates, two of which you have the chance to visit on our holidays.

Your first base, Snettisham, is close to Sandringham Estate, the Queen’s much-loved Christmas home. It is possible to tour the house itself, as well as the landscaped gardens and surrounding parkland. Your second accommodation, meanwhile, is located at the gates of the Earl of Leicester's country seat, Holkham Hall. This Palladian-style house is beautifully kept, and its extensive grounds contain a six-acre walled garden, boating lake and deer park.
 
Take the train
One of my favourite Norfolk days out begins in Wells, a historic harbour town with a traditional seaside feel. It's known for its beautiful beach huts – and as the home of the Wells and Walsingham Light Railway.

This heritage steam railway is the smallest in public operation, and a short journey aboard brings you to the pilgrimage town of Walsingham, whose celebrated shrine, ruined abbey and impressive timber-framed buildings are very much worth the visit.
History
Norfolk is a county with a long and fascinating history, fragments of which remain imprinted upon today’s landscape: from beautiful medieval churches built with the proceeds of a once prosperous wool trade to incredibly ancient sites such as Seahenge, a 4000-year-old Bronze Age timber circle that was discovered in Holme-next-the-Sea in 1998 and is now on display in nearby King's Lynn.

Among the many exquisite churches are several rare examples of Saxon round-towered churches. Pictured above is the Church of St Mary the Virgin in Titchwell.
 

Related holidays

Seascapes of North Norfolk
Stroll from Snettisham to Blakeney on this 6-night walking holiday and enjoy history, culture and ever-changing views.
More about our self-guided walking holidays in Norfolk >

Aspects of North Norfolk
Our shorter walking break in Norfolk takes in Snettisham and Holkham, as well as many pristine nature reserves and vast sandy beaches.
More about our self-guided walking breaks in Norfolk >
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