You may have noticed that we have a lot of sea in Norfolk. 90 miles of it… 93 when the tide’s out. It brought invaders like the Romans, Anglo Saxons and Vikings, but it was also for a long time our main means of communication and trade. It was the advent of the railways in the 19th century that brought people here for their health. Because, after all, nothing beats spending time on a beach and taking a dip in the briny. The Victorians popularised sea bathing, and we’ve been doing it ever since.
Excepting the obvious Cromer and Great Yarmouth, we’ve chosen our top ten favourite beaches to swim from when you visit Norfolk…
(Oh, and before you head out please check the tides and any warning advice on currents. Swim safely!).
There’s no shelf on this beach so the water is quite shallow, but if you really want to get into deep water then head for The Run, the channel that takes boats in and out of the harbour. At low tide, you can walk a mile out to where the sea has receded and take a dip.
Neighbouring Wells-next-the-Sea, Holkham beach is reached by wooden boardwalks through a pine forest. The water is shallow and if you time it right, with the tide going out, you’ll also discover lots of pools of warm water to swim in. The image here is high tide.
This quaint little village looks as if it was set in aspic in 1953 – it’s got a lovely traditional seaside vibe, and a huge beach from which to launch yourself into the sea.
The detached breakwater of granite blocks here has created lovely shallow bays. If you want to escape the crowds, walk to the northern part. In fact, walk a bit further and you’ll find yourself on just as lovely Eccles-on-Sea beach.
Although the fabulous Dunes Café lost its battle against coastal erosion (they’re now at Waxham Barn – oh, and Waxham beach is good for swimming too!), the beach here is still worth a visit for excellent sea bathing as the changing sands have created new sheltering sand banks.
Shifting sands have also changed Gorleston beach over the past few decades. A permanent large beach leads to gently shelving water and offshore sandbanks. Jay Jay’s café is good for a post-swim cake and coffee.
The tides change this large beach but it’s the low gradient that means it’s a good place to swim at any time.
Yes, Norfolk has its very own California! The beach here, at the bottom of low sandy cliffs, is peaceful and picturesque.
Neighbouring California, this is another quiet, wide sandy beach that leads into shallow water.
It’s no surprise the UK’s first holiday camp was built here – the beach is fabulous to steady your nerves before diving into the North Sea!