Set in Norfolk’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, North Norfolk is renowned for its spectacular coastline and wildlife, miles of glorious beaches, many of them Blue Flag, Deep History Coast, seaside communities and a beautiful hinterland of rolling countryside and picturesque market towns and villages.
There’s mile upon mile of sandy beaches – great for family fun.
With its imperious clifftop setting, Cromer is the jewel in north Norfolk’s crown, a seaside resort that’s been popular since the Victorians brought the railway here. They also built a strong of grand hotels on the seafront and a magnificent pier, home to Europe’s last end-of-pier show.
Centuries ago Cromer was actually a long way inland, but if North Norfolk’s charm is in the fact it retains an air of being timeless, it’s actually an area that’s been relentlessly shaped and changed by natural elements.
Cromer has the last end-of-pier theatre and lovely promenade – perfect for al fresco fish and chips or a Cromer crab sandwich.
Cromer is famous for the eponymous Cromer Crab – a fresh brown crab which you can find in many establishments throughout the town, in salads, sandwiches, dressed or in their shells. The reason Cromer’s crabs are so tender and sweet is that they grow slowly on the world’s longest chalk reek, just offshore.
The town doesn’t have a harbour, so the fishing boats are hauled up on to the shingle by the cobblestoned Gangway. Nearby is the Henry Blogg Museum, named after the town’s most distinguished lifeboatman.
The shallow waters at Cromer and Sheringham host the world’s longest chalk reef.
Above the family-friendly beach, you can explore the town’s tight streets, the church of St Peter and St Paul with its wonderful stained glass and 160ft tower (the tallest in Norfolk), and the Cromer Museum where you can learn about the town’s fishing, trading and seaside history – or just simply enjoy the peaceful mini-parks and gardens.
North Norfolk is renowned for its spectacular coastline, fantastic wildlife, miles of glorious beaches, seaside communities and a beautiful hinterland of rolling countryside and picturesque market towns and villages.
Birdwatching in Norfolk – the best places to birdwatch in Norfolk
Norfolk may well be the bird watching capital of Britain. It certainly has Premier League status nature reserves – just the names of Titchwell, Cley, Holkham, Blakeney, Snettisham and Welney make birdwatchers weak at the knees.
Managed by the National Trust since 1912 and within the North Norfolk Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Blakeney Point is a 4-mile spit of flint-derived shingle and sand dunes, created by longshore drift across the River Glaven.
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!
Westward of Cromer, there’s the 200ft high Beeston Bump, beyond which is Cromer’s sister coastal town of Sheringham, with its easy-going charm and Sheringham Museum on the seafront. Close by is National Trust Sheringham Park, laid out by Humphrey Repton, whose highlights include the rhododendron garden and the watch tower and Gazebo which have amazing views over the coast.
The North Norfolk Railways has sceneic views of the sea on its way to Georgian market town Holt.
The heritage steam railway, North Norfolk Railway, known locally as ‘The Poppy Line’, stretches 5 miles between Sheringham and Holt, with stops at Weybourne Heath and Kelling Halt, which gives access to Kelling Heath, a protected parcel of heathland covered with gorse, heather and bracken – and lots of rambling paths.
Cycling in the Quiet Lanes on the Cromer Ridge at Kelling with fabulous scenic views.
Genteel Holt is a fabulously handsome market town which has become a mecca for discerning visitors looking for independent shops and antiques. Most of Holt was burned in its famous fire of 1708, and in its place rose a splendid Georgian town focusing on an appealing Market Place where fabulous markets take place as well as the annual Holt Festival.
Burnham Market is also a favourite for those looking for a shopping experience with charming independent and well-known shops and plenty of delis and places to stop for a bite to eat, and nearby Burnham Thorpe is the birthplace of Horatio Nelson.
The iconic stripy lighthouse at Happisburgh on the Deep History Coast.
This is also Deep History Coast, where the biggest and best-preserved mammoth skeleton was found on West Runton beach, along with a prehistoric flint axe and 850,000-year-old human footprints at Happisburgh – the oldest footprints of man found outside the Great Rift Valley in Africa. There is a Deep History Coast Discovery Trail to follow with eleven Discovery Points along the way. A free mobile app can be downloaded and triggered at each point, revealing information about how the area’s deep history along with augmented reality revealing how north Norfolk looked millions of years ago. The North Norfolk Visitor Centre in Cromer has a Deep History Coast Discovery Zone where you can find out more.
Felbrigg Hall has lovely parklands and walled garden.
Nearby is the Jacobean Felbrigg Hall, run by the National Trust. The lovely limestone and brick façade of the main house has the skilfully carved inscription Gloria Deo in Excelsis, and the parklands are a delight to walk through.
Cley marshes and windmill, close to the nature reserve with superb birdwatching.
From Cley you can take the hike along a 4-mile shingle and sand spit to Blakeney Point, a nature reserve renowned for its terns and seals. The village of Blakeney is a delight.
You can visit the seal colony on Blakeney Point by boat from Morston.
You can take a boat trip with Beans Boats from Morston quay to see the largest seal colony in England. There are two trips a day in Summer. Beyond Morston is the village of Stiffkey, which has access through to the marshes.
On the roads inland from here to Fakenham are various attractions, including the substantial remains of Binham Priory, The Thursford Collection, which claims to host the world’s largest collection of steam engines and organs, ands Little Walsingham, a Christian pilgrimage centre since the 11th century. The pilgrimage season at Walsingham runs from Easter to the end of October. Dotted throughout north Norfolk, there is a range of attractions including zoos and farms you can visit, theme parks, artisan studios, stately homes and heritage railways.
Wells-next-the-Sea harbour with visitors crabbing.
Wells-next-the-Sea, now about a mile from the sea, was one of the great Tudor ports, having significant trade with the Netherlands. The harbour is still used by sailing boats and crabbers and the quay and narrow streets are a pleasing mix of shops with a friendly welcome for visitors. From the quay is a long road and pedestrian path to a car park and huge beach backed by a pine wood, with some lovely nature walks.
The Norfolk Coast Path covers the whole stretch and the Coasthopper bus service is a great way to do chunks at a time. The Bittern Line, running from Norwich, connects the city with the coast as it passes through the Broads National Park and the scenic beauty of North Norfolk. Connections along the line include – at Wroxham and Hoveton – the Bure Valley Railway, a narrow-gauge line which runs through the Norfolk countryside to the market town of Aylsham.
The Bittern Line terminates at Sheringham, opposite the start of the North Norfolk Railway. See the Greater Anglia route map here. At Sheringham you can also catch the Coasthopper which allows you to explore even more of the North Norfolk coastline through to Hunstanton.
Boat trips to seals
Deep History Coast
Rock pooling & crabbing
Outstanding Natural Beauty
all the above
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