July 13

Backpacking England’s North Norfolk Coastal Path

norfolk coast trail
Holkham Woods

For those looking for easy hiking with beautiful views in England, the North Norfolk Coastal Path has 46 miles of trail to explore. This National Trail can be linked with another national trail: the Peddars Way which adds up to 92 miles of trail altogether.

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NNCP Map

This Coastal path makes a brilliant easy 3 day hike. You can wild camp or get accommodations along the route. It takes in some stunning (but VERY FLAT) scenery, and a lot of wildlife. I highly recommend taking a decent SLR camera with a couple of lenses rather than a lightweight compact for this short trip. I used an 18-55 for my trip.

The walk starts in Hunstanton on the West and finishes in Cromer in The East, going through several nature reserves and long beaches. I do this about once a year, just because it is so wonderful. It is just as fabulous in winter (except in driving rain).

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NNCP Map Start

 

To be honest I can only give a flavour of this here but my blog posts capture it all in pictures. Whether you love or hate it probably depends on your motive for walking. This trail isn’t wild and it isn’t isolated. It takes in small towns and villages and while it is never far from civilization,it is still abounding in the beauty of nature.

As to wild camping. This can be an issue in England. It is possible, but you must be discreet and get off the main path, but still avoid farmers land unless you ask permission to put up tent or bivvy for the night.It is possible to also do so in the dunes and the woods, but again don’t be obvious, and if in doubt ask, or hide really If not wild camping, then lots of B&B’s and other places to stay.

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Leaving Hunstanton

The walk takes a fine coastal track from the centre of Hunstanton, and is soon meandering out to Thornham, where there are some superb examples of the remains of old piers when Thornham was a busy port.

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Thornham Church

From Thornham the main path goes inland. A nicer alternative goes along the road but allows you to go left down into the Titchwell Sanctuary where there are fine photo opportunities.

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Titchwell Sanctuary

From here you head to Brancaster, and then via the coastal path to Burnham Norton and Burnham Ovary. Timing is everything here if you want to have a pub meal or a beer.

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Burnham Deepdale Harbour

A fine detour round through Deepdale Marsh will get you to Burnham Ovary, another pretty little port. And then it is off to walk the Dunes and onto the large spread of Holkham Beach. You can also walk out to Scolt Head Island, but not when the tide is in, and again make sure you know the tide patterns, because you do NOT want to get stuck out there. Even on Holkham beach, you need to take care here if the tide is coming in because it is easily possible to get cut off and that is NOT a good thing.You have choices of all along the beach, or go through Holkham Woods, and both are good.

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Heading onto Holkham Beach
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Holkham Beach Huts (very English)

A short walk by the old miniature railway will take you into Wells-Next-The-Sea. Many places to look at here and some good pubs. If you don’t want to camp, there is the YHA which is a cheap option.

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Dusk in Wells Harbour

Leaving Wells, takes you out to Warham Greens and then Stiffkey Greens. Both part of the large wildfowl nature reserve, and can be rather wet underfoot if it has been raining.

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Warham Greens Salt Marshes
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Near Stiffkey Greens
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Stiffkey Greens

After Stiffkey, you head via the Salt Marshes to Blakeney. As with all this path, depending upon time, there are lots of opportunities to detour, especially out to the dunes, but as with Holkham, take real care, because the marshes can be treacherous.

Blakeney can be a bit of a tourist trap. You can decide whether to do the loop to Blakeney Eye or go via Wiveton hall and get a cup of tea in the Café. I did, because the next bit is a very long trudge along the shale beach from Cley Eye to Wyebourne. Navigation is simple, but it is hard work underfoot. Eventually you will get to the Sheringham Cliffs and some rather lovely views. You can stay in Sheringham or crack on towards Cromer continuing along the cliff tops.

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Neverending shale beach from Cley
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Looking back from the Sherringham Clifftop

It is a quaint short trip. It is rural, it is English, it isn’t big hills, it isn’t long distance, it isn’t remote, it isn’t hardcore.It is quite easy. It is very pretty, and it probably is quite different for many.But walking isn’t only about wilderness and long trips. It is about the beauty and diversity of our planet.

This post was contributed by Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassador Andrew Walker