N is for National Trust
They're world famous for looking after our wonderful stately homes, but the National Trust has also been championing our coastline since 1895, allowing visitors to enjoy its rare beauty and also protecting it for future generations.
So in Norfolk, you might be aware of the magnificent halls at Blickling, Oxburgh and Felbrigg, but did you know they also manage significant properties on the Norfolk coast?
Here's the top five…
Blakeney Point, the sand spit which has the largest seal colony in England in Winter.
Blakeney Point, within Blakeney National Nature Reserve, is a four-mile-long sand and shingle spit. Sand dunes have formed over hundreds of years on the shingle ridge and form a rare habitat valuable for unusual plants, insects, birds and, as of last Winter, the largest seal colony in England.
The surrounding landscape of saltmarsh, mudflats and fresh watermarsh shape the rest of the National Nature Reserve.
The Point is open throughout the year – you can either walk the spit from Cley-next-the-Sea or take a boat trip from Morston (where there's also a National Trust information centre) or Blakeney. Be mindful of cordoned off areas to protect breeding birds.
Wander through Sheringham Park and you'll discover why it became the personal favourite of its designer, Humphry Repton. The 1000-acre park was landscaped in 1812 and there are many way-marked walks to enjoy. Climb the viewing tower to get a magnificent scene of the coastline all the way to Blakeney Point and look out for the gazebo. In May and June the rhododendrons are a wonderful sight.
Brancaster Staithe offers a great place to start exploring the Norfolk coast, if you're sailing you can launch a boat (voluntary launching fee applies) and sail in the sheltered waters of Scolt Head Island; or if you venture a little further west along the Norfolk Coast Path you will find the Roman Fort of Branodunum.
Nearby is Brancaster Beach, with mile upon mile of golden sand – great for dog walking, building sand castles and power kiting. Brancaster Staithe is famous for its mussels, but equally of interest is the NT's Millennium Activity Centre.
The striking five-storey Horsey Windpump provides stunning views over the coast and Broadland landscape. Set within the Broads National Park (and possibly the closest the inland Broads gets to the sea), the Horsey estate is an internationally important site for wildlife and offers a great spot for birdwatching and wintering wildfowl. Go to Horsey beach and it's likely you'll find a few seals basking in the water or relaxing on the sand.
PS Most of the buildings you'll see in Norfolk with sails are actually windpumps – used to drain the land – rather than windmills.
West Runton and Beeston Regis Heath
Just back from the sea but with fabulous views of it, West Runton and Beeston Regis Heath is the perfect place for a breezy walk along, or up and down, the hills of north Norfolk. Yes, hills! In Norfolk! This is part of the 8.7 mile-long and 100 metre-high Cromer ridge, the highest point in East Anglia and the result of the terminal moraine of a glacier, the front line of the ice sheet where less movement meant a bigger build-up of material. Imagine a rucked-up carpet and you'll get the point.
Enjoy the sun on the heaths or shelter from the wind in the woods and the views over coastal villages and Sheringham. Don't miss the signs of a Napoleonic signal station, near to the car park.