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Blakeney Point

North Norfolk - Cotswolds-by-the-Coast

The Cotswolds are, quite rightly, a wonderful destination to visit in England. But north Norfolk has got everything the land-locked Cotswolds have plus one little extra – it’s by the sea!

If you’ve visited the Cotswolds you’ll know it’s a place of Farrow & Ball paint, Chelsea Tractors and expensive second homes for wealthy Londoners. So is north Norfolk!

Home of the Stewkey Blue

Stiffkey estuary

In fact, Farrow & Ball’s Stiffkey Blue No 281 is named after the quaint north Norfolk village otherwise famous for its cockles, called Stewkey Blues, and local rector Harold Davidson, who was defrocked by the Bishop of Norwich after devoting himself to being ‘The Prostitute’s Padre’ in London and being pictured with a near-naked teenage girl, and who was eventually killed by a lion while performing in a seaside spectacular after stepping on its tail.

We are not making this up! Here's an ITV News Report.

Anyway, Stiffkey Blue No 281 is, according to Farrow & Ball, ‘reminiscent of the extraordinary colour of the mud found at Stiffkey beach, Norfolk. A slightly bluer alternative to Down Pipe’.

200 multi-coloured beach huts and beautiful beaches

Beach huts at Wells-next-the-Sea

There wasn’t a beach at Stiffkey last time we looked, however there are some of the finest beaches in the UK close by, particularly at Wells-next-the-Sea, with its 200 multi-coloured higgledy-piggledy beach huts and pooch-friendly cafe, and Holkham, voted the best in Britain by readers of BBC Countryfile magazine and where Gwyneth Paltrow filmed the closing shots of Shakespeare in Love.

Norfolk's top beaches

Hollywood Holkham

Largest seal colony in England

Grey seal pup

Like the Cotswolds, north Norfolk has a beautiful Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, except ours’ provides bracing cliff-top walks at Sheringham, and a four-mile sand and shingle spit called Blakeney Point, home to the largest seal colony in England. Take a boat trip from Morston Quay to see them up close and personal.

Seals in Norfolk

Cycling and spectacular coastal views

Cycling at Kelling Heath

North Norfolk also has rolling hills, including the Cromer Ridge, the highest point in the East of England from where you can get spectacular coastal views, and while the Cotswolds have the meadows of the upper Thames, north Norfolk has meadows from which springs the Wensum, the longest and most protected chalk river in Europe. Oh, and in prehistoric times, the Thames used to be in Norfolk.

Again, not making it up. Read all about our Deep History Coast, the world’s biggest and best-preserved mammoth skeleton, a flint axe that was the Swiss Army knife of its day and the human footprints that are the earliest evidence of mankind outside the Great Rift Valley in Africa and proof that the first tourists ever to arrive in the UK holidayed in Norfolk.

Deep History Coast

Cromer Ridge

Flint homes and round-towered churches

Flint cottage at Blakeney

Whereas the Cotswolds has its gorgeous golden coloured stone for building, north Norfolk has flint. Across the mainly rural landscape you’ll see flint walls, houses and churches. Many of the latter are Saxon round towered – we have more than the rest of the country put together.

Norfolk flint

Europe's first industrial centre

Grimes Graves

Like the Cotswolds, north Norfolk has Neolithic settlements - Grime’s Graves flint mines were the earliest industrial centre in Europe; Roman remains at Caistor St Edmund and Burgh Castle, and Roman roads, such as the Peddar’s Way.

Our 7 Natural Wonders

Romans in Norfolk

Magnificent Wool Churches


The Cotswolds’ medieval wealth came from the wool trade with the continent, with much of those riches being used to build churches. So did ours’. Norfolk has a plethora of magnificent ‘Wool Churches’ and in Walsingham, a medieval centre of pilgrimage. Like the Cotswolds, the industrial revolution passed Norfolk by (a lack of fast-running water) meaning that much of our beautiful built capital remains gorgeously set in aspic.

Churches and cathedrals

Norfolk's Downton Abbeys

Blickling at night

Both the Cotswolds and north Norfolk are quintessentially English.

North Norfolk is punctuated with beautiful gardens, historical and lively market towns such as Georgian Holt, picturesque villages such as Burnham Market, otherwise known as Chelsea-on-Sea, and Burnham Thorpe, birthplace of our greatest naval commander Nelson, and splendid stately homes, our own 'Downton Abbeys', such as Holkham Hall, Felbrigg, Blickling and Houghton, which recently hosted a stunning celebration of work by Damien Hirst.

Stately homes

Home of Royalty and heirs to the throne

And that’s not to forget Sandringham! The Cotswolds is home to Prince Charles and the Princess Royal, but the Sandringham estate is HM The Queen’s countryside dacha and also rural retreat of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children. So the Cotswolds has the next in line to the throne, but north Norfolk can claim the second to fifth.

UK's best birdwatching and reserves

Birdwatching at Cley Marshes

Like the Cotswolds, north Norfolk has famous reserves for bird-watching, such as Cley Marshes, breath-taking landscapes that are ideal for walking and cycling, and an arty vibe with galleries, exhibitions and festivals.

Unsurprisingly, this landscape provides a rich harvest of food and drink that can be enjoyed in gastro pubs, country inns, restaurants in chic hotels and in characterful cafes. It's said we have the best malting barley in the country too, due to salty sea frets and the fact it's grown at height!


Beer and brewing

Our top foods

Food and drink in Norfolk

Great accommodation... for humans and dogs!

Dog-friendly accommodation in Norfolk

Talking of hotels, there’s great accommodation in north Norfolk – spa hotels, country house hotels, boutique hotels, charming B&Bs, glampsites and self-catering cottages. And we love dogs too.

So, is that enough to satisfy? North Norfolk. Just like the Cotswolds. With added Coast. You’ll love it. At any time of the year.

Where to stay

Explore north Norfolk