Places to stay in North Norfolk with breath-taking walks

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Ruth Richardson

Sawday's Expert

5 min read

From pretty Tudor cottages bedecked with roses to modern minimalist beach houses, we’ve picked out six very special holiday cottages in North Norfolk. We’ve also asked the cottage owners to share their favourite local walks to help you discover Norfolk’s most breath-taking stretches of coastline, prettiest fishing villages, and cosiest pubs. Read on for our recommendations.

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Morston to Wells next the Sea recommended by Lynda owner of The Moat House

‘Norfolk has a most beautiful unspoilt coastline with a path treading the line between land and sea; the secret to accessing it is the Coast Hopper Bus. This allows you to park at one end of the walk and take the bus back to your car when you reach the other end.

My favourite walk on the Norfolk Coast Path starts at Morston, a ten minute drive from The Moat House. It is a small village with a harbour and both pub and Michelin starred restaurant. Lots of sailing boats are moored here and if you allow time you could book a boat to visit the seals at Blakeney Point.

From Morston take the path through the wild marshes (covered in sea lavender at certain times of the year) to Stiffkey, famous for its wicked Victorian Vicar and “Stewky Blues” (a wonderful cockle found here), Stiffkey has a hostelry just off the Coastal Path. Keeping the sea on your right the flat path takes you through wild unspoilt landscapes, rarely meeting another walker until you reach Wells next the Sea.  By now you should have spotted enough birds and wildlife to fill an I Spy book and should you meet another walker we locals always say Hello. Wells has a charming little harbour, wonderful small shops and lots of places serving and supplying local food. A good place to stock up on your groceries with its bustling narrow streets and long- established shops. The bus back to Morston should take only 20 minutes.’

Stay at The Moat House >

Waxham Beach, Norfolk, recommended by Simon owner of Shangri-la

‘Waxham and its beach are, above all, atmospheric with a true sense of remoteness and isolation. It’s a great place for a walk, regardless of season as there is so much to see and the beach is rarely, if ever, crowded. This walk will take you to see the seals, at the Horsey colony, but seals will invariably be seen from Waxham onwards.

Access to the beach is around the ancient barn, manor house and church (look for the church if you’re not sure where the start). Take the access path to the beach (passing Shangri-la which is within metres of the beach) and then turn right, walking along the beach. If the tide is in, take the paths that crisscross the dunes and enjoy the spectacular, expansive views. Depending on the season, you’ll sooner or later find groups of seals. Take care not to get too close and observe from a distance (dogs are permitted on Waxham beach all year round but must be on a lead near the seals). The walk can be as short or long as you like but for those with stamina, it’s possible to walk along the beach and then take the path inland across the marshes to the Nelson Head pub where you can enjoy a rest and some refreshments before heading back.’

Stay at Shangri-la >

The Weavers Way recommended by Andrew owner of The Green Pavilion

‘The Weavers Way, which runs for about sixty miles between Great Yarmouth and Cromer on the north Norfolk coast, passes alongside The Green Pavilion.

Setting off from The Green Pavilion along The Weavers Way, this easy walk reaches Felbrigg Woods in fifteen minutes. In the spring there is a carpet of bluebells followed later in the year by wild foxgloves. In the early mornings and evenings, deer are often to be seen here. Another five minutes brings you to Felbrigg Lake where we have seen kingfishers, otters, hobbies, water rail, little owls and other wildlife. Binoculars are a good idea. Ten more minutes walking through parkland brings you to Felbrigg Hall with its café, book shop, and wonderful kitchen garden.

If you are not ready to return to The Green Pavilion yet, carrying on along The Weavers Way for another thirty minutes takes you through the estate and down past Cromer Hall and Amazona Zoo in to Cromer itself. Here, a refreshing drink on the end of the pier with views along the coast, or a swim from the sandy beach, is a fine way to end this easy and lovely walk.’

Stay at The Green Pavilion >

Holkham Beach recommended by Amanda owner of Hill Cottage

‘Norfolk is famous for its vast skies, and where better to enjoy those skies than on a leisurely walk along a beach.  The dunes on one side and the sea on the other.  Just heavenly.  Holkham is a favourite.

A walk along a board walk through the pines opens onto the vastness of the beach and endless miles of unspoilt golden sand.  When the tide is out, the sea is a long way away.

Dog, child and horse friendly.  The Household cavalry have been coming every July for over twenty years to exercise the horses.  It is a wonderful sight to see the skilled horsemanship of the soldiers riding bareback into the sea.

Hidden behind Holkham beach are two bird watching hides, overlooking the grazing marshes. Famous during the winter months for the pink footed geese and brent geese.  A spectacular sight and sound at dusk as they fly on to the marshes to drink and bathe before going to roost.’

Stay at Hill Cottage >

Blakeney Marshes recommended by Steve and Katie, owners of Cartshed Cottages

‘There is a wonderful wildness to the marshes of North Norfolk, and the walk between Blakeney and Cley offers the full saltmarsh experience – and it’s a slice of dog-heaven too! Blakeney Harbour is a lovely centre for sailing boats, paddle-boarding, crabbing and splashing about in the muddy waters – and floods dramatically at high tide. The path stays above water regardless and heads out into the marshes as the vistas and skies open up. The birdlife chatters around you, geese fly overhead in season and birdwatchers camp out in the winter.

As the path turns east, the watery wildness is at its best: here the colours change with the season, the sea air blows in, and in winter you can suddenly realise there isn’t another soul in sight. A barn owl or marsh harrier will hunt across the inland freshes. Back towards Cley the famous windmill comes into view, the reeds whisper in the breeze – and there are great options for a coffee/cake refuel.

Back along the coast road to Blakeney past the glorious twin-towered church leads to a gentle wander back in time, past tiny cottages and shops down to the harbour.’

Stay at Cartshed Cottages>

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Ruth Richardson

Sawday's Expert

Ruth loves a good story. Following a decade living in London and working in publishing, her ears are always pricked for a spicy plot twist or unforgettable character. She delights in meeting hosts and discovering the history that brought saffron to her spaghetti, the hiking detours that will lead to temple ruins, and why someone cares so passionately about their special corner of the world. She loves that as a marketer for Sawday’s she can share these stories with others too.
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