Frampton Marsh to Little Walsingham / Blakeney to Happisburgh / Sea Palling to Burgh Castle


Blakeney PointAfter a night at an old hunting lodge near Thorpe Market we woke to drizzle and set off for the coast.

Morston Marshes are part of a nature reserve belonging to the National Trust. Unfortunately they don't pay much attention to the access road and the road humps were as bad as the pot-holes.

From the quay, a ferry crosses to the bird and seal sanctuary. This is a lonely shingle spit stretching from Cley Eye to Blakeney Point. It is possible to get there by ferry or by footpath from Cley.

Blakeney PointUntil the 16th century Blakeney was a thriving port, its vessels travelling as far as Iceland. Villages all along this coast were once thriving ports serving Norwich during its hey day, but they are now well inland thanks to extensive drainage projects over the centuries.

BlakeneyGradual silting has left a narrow channel that is only accessible to small craft at high tide and Blakeney is now a resort with several large hotels, popular with yachtsmen, birdwatchers and naturalists.


The pretty high street runs steeply down to the harbour between cottages of brick and flint. The old Guildhall has a well preserved 14th century undercroft with an arched and vaulted brick ceiling.

The vast Church of St Nicholas, dubbed the 'Cathedral of the Coast' has two towers, the western one rises to more than 100ft and is a landmark for miles around whilst a smaller tower was possibly built as a beacon to guide ships into Blakeney harbour.

Cley Next The Sea

Cley Next The SeaCley is also a former port left stranded by the receding sea. Cly, if you want to be in with the locals, is on the edge of one of Britain's foremost nature reserves. Breeding species in Cley Marsh, a great bed of reeds dotted with brackish and freshwater lagoons, include bearded tits and bitterns, and many other visiting wildfowl can be seen in winter.

Cley windmillIn Cley itself, traces of the old quay remain along the narrow Cley Channel, dominated by a fabulous windmill dating from 1713 which is now a guesthouse. The village is pretty and it is a shame that an A road passes right through it.

The attractive village of Salthouse with its flint cottages is another former port cut off from the sea. Lanes lead across the bird sanctuary of Salthouse Marshes to the long distance Norfolk Coast Path.

The Church of St Nicholas is a fine example of the late 15th century style. We drove about a mile inland to Gallow Hill to try and find some impressive Bronze Age barrows - but failed.


Weybourne HopeWeybourne is a hamlet of flinty cottages, a square towered church and a lovely windmill. We drove to a car park by a stretch of shingle known as Weybourne Hope. The steeply shelving beach allows ships to anchor close inshore, and it was heavily defended at the time of the Spanish Armada.

This was the first time we had seen the sea close to the shore since leaving Skegness. Standing on the shingle shore we could look west onto marshland and east to the soft crumbling cliffs climbing steadily past the seaside resorts of Sheringham and Cromer

Weybourne Camp

In World War II, Weybourne Camp was an important anti-aircraft firing range and training camp. It is now the site of the Muckleburgh Collection, a museum of military equipment with a display of tanks, armoured cars and artillery.

About a mile to the south west is Sheringham Park, designed by the landscape gardener Humphry Repton in 1812. A tower lookout gives panoramic views of the coast and surrounding countryside.


SherringhamThe road widened as we reached Sherringham, a popular seaside resort. The town grew with the coming of the railway in 1887 and a cluster of old cottages in the centre of the town pre-date it. There is a promenade overlooking a sand and shingle beach that is divided into bays by the groynes.

promenadeThe promenade is linked by a bridge over a large launching ramp. A small fleet of fishing boats still goes out for crabs and lobsters, and when not at sea the boats are drawn up on the beach.

clock tower

There is a small clock tower in the centre of the town and narrow streets are filled with gift shops and tea rooms. One bakery sold the biggest cream cakes I have ever eaten. The local history museum is housed in three converted fishermen's cottages and contains locally found fossils.

North Norfolk RailwayThe station is the headquarters of the North Norfolk Railway, nicknamed 'the Poppy Line' after the plant that thrives in this part of Norfolk. During the summer, vintagel trains travel along the 5 mile line south west to Holt.

There are also displays of old locomotives and carriages and the station itself is bedecked with old signs and piles of old baggage.

North Norfolk RailwayThe last proper train left here in 1964, travelling from Melton Constable to Great Yarmouth. Just yards away the British Rail station remains open, with a line to Cromer and Norwich. I liked it here.

West Runton

The highest part of the county is the 'Holt Cromer Ridge' which is formed of gravels, sands and clays deposited during the last Ice Age. At its seaward end, the ridge terminates in the chalky cliffs of Weybourne and Cromer (belemnites can be found in the rock). It reaches a height of 32ft on Beacon Hill, near the coastal village of West Runton.

West RuntonWe stopped to eat our cream cakes at the top of the cliffs, in a small carpark overlooking a beach of blackish coloured rocks.

Half a mile west of the village, a track running over a level crossing leads to the solitary All Saints' Church - definitely solitary. Golf seems to be pretty popular in this area with several courses along the cliff tops from Sheringham to Cromer.


Cromer lies at the eastern end of the long distance Norfolk Coast Path to Hunstanton, and at the northern end of the Weavers' Way footpath, which travels inland through the Broads to Great Yarmouth. It is a classic Norfolk holiday town, popular as a resort since the end of the 18th century.

The crumbly yellow dirt cliffs were like the banks of a quarry, high and scooped out and raked vertically by erosion and the long sandy beach is reached by a slipway from the promenade. Old flint cottages and winding streets surround the 14th century Church, a grand structure even by Norfolk standards, with towers soaring to 160ft and with huge windows.

white railed stepsAs we approached the town we passed several waves of statics before descending to the sands, west of the pier. Elaborate white railed steps lead up to the clifftop and there were some youngsters racing a car along the deserted promenade.

Pavilion Theatre

In the summer the Pavilion Theatre hosts the last remaining British 'end of the pier' show - Seaside Special - and there is a carnival in August. The town had an Edwardian look with red brick terraces and hotels with tall turrets. The information centre was useless so we had a look round, but there didn't seem much to stop for.

Cromer is known for two things apart from its beach: the famous Cromer crabs and the gallantry of its lifeboatmen. The most famous of all lifeboatmen is Henry Blogg who, his crew saved 873 people. The survival of the fishing industry (namely crabs), means that Cromer feels less temporary than so many east coast towns.


OverstrandA 2 mile clifftop walk to the resort of Overstrand passes a squat lighthouse. It is another former crab fishing village with a winding clifftop road and a huge Christianity Conference centre. You can get to the wide sandy beach by steps or a slipway, both of which are very steep, but there is no access to the sea between Overstrand and Mundesley because of the dangerous state of the cliffs.

golfball structure

We drove through Trimmington with its pretty village sign and stopped to look at the church which had a very plain square tower.

Further on we saw a military communication base sporting a golfball structure and warnings of microwave radiation.

Village Signs

Norfolk is renowned for its illustrated village signs - about 500 of them and more being added all the time.

The Royal Family first introduced the idea on the Sandringham Estate in the early 20th century and there was a surge to erect them around the time of the Coronation in 1953. They display local legends and characters and many have been put up to celebrate events.A great many were carved by one man - Harry Carter.


Stow MillMundesley is another tiny resort of wide sands backed by low cliffs; it is pronounced 'Munsley' and got a mention in Domesday Book.

thatched barnThere is a four storey brick tower of Stow Mill, built in 1827, with working fantail and sails.

At Paston there is a magnificent thatched barn some 160ft long, built by Sir William Pastor in 1581. It was being completely rethatched, which must be an enormous undertaking. The village is famous for the letters written by his wife Margaret, around 1440, when they lived in Paston Hall.

BactonBacton is a vast complex of gasholders, pylons and pipes of the Gas Terminal, where gas from North Sea wells 65 miles away is piped ashore.

Bromholm PrioryAt the southern end of the village, is the ruined gateway of Bromholm Priory, a 12th century place of pilgrimage. Bromholm was famous for its supposed possession of a piece of the 'True Cross' used in the Crucifixion, which was recorded as having raised people from the dead and restored sight. The relic was lost after the Dissolution of the Monasteries (it got lost - what a surprise!) and Bromholm then fell into decay.


Happisburgh lighthouse Walcott and Ostend merge into one another, incorporating holiday camps and caravan sites. South of Walcott is the isolated medieval Church of All Saints, which provides the main landmark in the surrounding flat countryside.

Happisburgh is pronounced 'Hazeborough' and is dominated by a red and white striped lighthouse that warns mariners of the dangerous Hazeborough Sands (probably pronounced Happisburgh), about 7 miles offshore. For centuries bodies of shipwrecked sailors have been buried in St Mary's churchyard, including 119 crew of HMS Invincible in 1801.