Eastern England – The North Norfolk Coast

The North Norfolk Coast
1. Holkham Hall
Holkham Hall was designed in the 18th century by architect William Kent for the first Earl of Leicester. The interior retains much of its original decoration, notably the marble hall, with its fluted columns and intricate reliefs. The rich colours of the state rooms are an appropriate backdrop for a fabulous selection of paintings by Van Dyck, Rubens, Gainsborough and Poussin. Footpaths lace the estate, leading to Holkham Bay, one of the finest sandy beaches on this stretch of coast.

2. Seal Watching Boat Trips
Take a boat trip from Blakeney to watch seals on Blakeney Point. There’s a number of operators to choose from, including Bean’s Boats, Bishop’s Boats and Temple’s Seal Trips. You spend a couple of hours on Blakeney Point, and at the seal colony just off the point to see some of the 500 or so common and grey seals, which are often quite inquisitive and can pop up out of the water from time to time for photo opportunities.

3. Sandringham House
Sandringham is the much-loved country retreat of the Queen, and has been decribed as ‘The most comfortable house in England.’ Built in 1870 by the then Prince of Wales, Sandringham has been passed down through four generations of British monarchs. Set in the 60-acre gardens, with a fascinating museum of Royal vehicles and mementoes, the principal ground floor apartments with their collections of porcelain, jade, furniture and family portraits are open to the public from Easter to October.

4. Blakeney Point Sailing School
The sailing school at Blakeney is called Norfolk Etc. and offers Royal Yachting Association approved sailing and powerboat training courses for adults and children, from beginners to advanced. Courses follow the structured RYA approach, with a mixture of land based theory and on the water tuition to build confidence and skills. The school also provides private tuition and charters in a rugged and well built Norfolk Oyster boat to the seals on Blakeney Point.

5. Holkham Beach and Nature Reserve
Holkham Bay on the north Norfolk coast is a long windswept sandy beach, fringed by sand dunes and pine trees. Part of a large nature reserve, stretching from Wells in the west to Holkham in the east, there are four main zones to the shore; the beach itself, dunes, salt-marsh and pinewoods, each supporting different types of plant and animal life. Wildlife fans may be lucky enough to spot seals, as well as oyster catchers, curlews and terns.

6. Cromer
Cromer is another traditional English seaside town that is returning to favour as more and more of us re-discover holidays closer to home. Famous for the quality of the seafood caught here, Cromer also has an attractive pier, a good beach and an interesting local museum. Here you can discover Cromer’s history as a Victorian seaside resort with its fine hotels and scandal of mixed bathing and learn about the daring rescues of Henry Blogg and the Cromer lifeboatmen.

7. Blakeney
The small coastal town of Blakeney is an appealing place to visit for a day or two, or maybe for an afternoon stop if travelling along the north Norfolk coast. Pretty pebble cottages and a flint and rubble church (the Church of St Nicholas) exemplify the areas traditional building techniques, and family run shops and restaurants line the high street. Blakeney harbour has stalls selling fresh crab sandwiches on the quayside, and looks onto the 5 mile long pebble spit of Blakeney Point to the north.

8. Wells-next-the-Sea
Wells-next-the-Sea is an attractive North Norfolk coastal town, with narrow lanes and old fashioned shops. Although there’s no specific attractions, it’s an excellent base from which to explore the surrounding area and a pleasant place to stop off at, with some decent gust houses. With a beautiful beach bordered by pine woods, Georgian buildings and a choice of pubs and restaurants, Wells-next-the-Sea is a perfect destination to relax and unwind from the stresses and cares of modern life.

9. Blakeney National Nature Reserve
Blakeney National Nature Reserve is one of the largest expanses of undeveloped coastal habitats of its type in Europe. Its a dynamic coastal habitat with a long sand and shingle spit, fine sea views and wide open skies. The reserve is a significant breeding area for tern colonies and an important haul-out site for Common and Grey seals. Access is by foot from Cley Beach (3ml) or by ferry from Morston and Blakeney, depending on the tides.

10. Hunstanton
Hunstanton is a popular holiday destination with a friendly family atmosphere retaining much of its original Victorian elegance. Enjoy traditional coastal attractions, such as donkey rides on the beach, a trip round the town in a Road Train, or if youre feeling more adventurous a ride on a sea buggy. Take a walk along the promenade, where colourful gardens butt up against the sea shore. Play pitch and putt or bowls, or explore the beach with its dramatic red and white cliffs.

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