The Norfolk Coast Path runs for 84 miles from Hunstanton to Hopton-on-Sea, with much of this walking trail running through the dramatic landscape of the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Experience seaside towns and villages, tidal marshes teeming with wildlife, wide sandy beaches, pine woodlands and huge skies.
View an overview map of Norfolk Coast Path (PDF download 1mb) or view Norfolk Coast Path on the interactive map.
The original Norfolk Coast Path combines with the Peddars Way (which it joins at Holme-next-the-Sea) to form the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path National Trail, one of 15 National Trails in England and Wales.
At 84 miles long, the Norfolk Coast Path covers some stunning areas along Norfolk’s coastline. Stretching all the way from Hunstanton in the west to Hopton-on-Sea in the south east, you’re spoilt for choice for things to see along the trail.
The following are worth exploring as you walk through this stunning area, listed west to south east from Hunstanton to Hopton-on-Sea:
Make sure you take a short detour down to the beach to see the stunning red and white stripey cliffs at Hunstanton. White chalk from the Upper Cretaceous era forms the top white layer and ‘red chalk’ from the Lower Cretaceous sits below.
NWT Holme Dunes holds a variety of important habitats including sand dunes, salt marsh, pine woods and grazing marshes. These support lots of wildlife species including natterjack toads, butterflies and dragonflies, as well as a large number of interesting plants. Various military remains from WWII can also be glimpsed around the reserve.
RSPB Titchwell offers fantastic opportunities to see wildlife all year round. Spacious hides give sheltered views of different habitats or sit on a bench to enjoy the reedbeds and lagoons. Take a walk down the west bank, to the beach, for elevated views across the reserve.
These beautiful villages, full of flint-stone cottages, deserve a stop on your walk. With great beach walks, tidal marshes and lots of sailing activity there’s much to look out for. Burnham Deepdale acts a hub for the area, with plenty of facilities for walkers to top-up on supplies or take a well-earned break.
Set in the stunning grounds of Holkham Park, the magnificent 18th Century Holkham Hall is the ancestral home of the Coke family (Earls of Leicester). The Hall is open seasonally but the outer Palladian design can be admired throughout the year. Holkham Park is criss-crossed by paths to help visitors explore the incredible 3000 acres of parkland, home to managed herds of both fallow and red deer.
Holkham is also well-known for its vast sandy beach, stretching for miles at low tide, which is also popular with horseriders. Paths through the tranquil pine woodland that fringe the beach offer a different experience altogether.
This area forms part of the 11 mile stretch of Holkham National Nature Reserve, managed by partnership between the Holkham Estate and Natural England.
The historic seaside resort of Wells-next-the-sea is a welcome stop-off for any walker. It has been a port for at least 600 years, and is naturally protected by rare saltmarshes behind a sandbar.
The extensive sandy beach is lined with colourful beach huts and pine woodlands that merge with Holkham beach a short way along the coast.
Enjoy the views between Wells’ beach and the quayside along a mile long raised bank, or rest your legs by taking the miniature train.
The old granary and malting buildings on the quayside reflect past industries associated with the port. The most distinctive building, with its overhanging gantry, was built in 1903.
The quayside is a great place for crabbing too.
Morston Quay falls within the Blakeney National Nature Reserve, and is situated just within the shelter of Blakeney Point. The Point is a 4 mile long shingle spit with sand dunes that is home to a variety of unusual plants and an important breeding ground for sea bird colonies. Grey and common seals are also in abundance here.
The small National Trust Visitor Centre is a great way to learn about the wildlife, conservation work and history of the Nature Reserve, whilst the observation tower offers fabulous views over Blakeney Point and the surrounding marshes.
Several local businesses offer seal trips from the quay to Blakeney Point, a fantastic way to get up close to these wonderful mammals without disturbing them.
The pretty coastal village of Blakeney, is set on a hill leading down to the quay and harbour.
Brimming with flint cottages typical of this part of Norfolk, in medieval times Blakeney was a busy port, until the estuary began silting up which prevented large vessels from entering the harbour. It’s the perfect place to stop for a rest, have an ice cream and watch the popular pursuit of crab catching on the quayside.
Just off the quay is the 15th century Guildhall, the remains of the house of a prosperous Blakeney merchant, which has an impressive brick-vaulted undercroft.
On the hill above is St Nicholas’, a large distinctive church with 2 towers that dominates the skyline for miles around.
Cley is another pretty coastal village, well known for its iconic windmill overlooking the marshes.
The village was a busy port in the Middle Ages, until the river gradually began silting up. With a popular delicatessen and tea-shops, a pub and art galleries, there is plenty to encourage walkers to take a break.
Set just to the east of the village, NWT Cley Marshes, is Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s oldest and best known nature reserve. The shingle beach and saline lagoons, along with the grazing marsh and reedbed support large numbers of wintering and migrating wildfowl and waders, as well as bittern, marsh harrier and bearded tit.
Weybourne Camp is a former anti-aircraft training camp dating from before World War II. The camp is currently home to the Muckleburgh Collection, a privately owned military museum with 25 tanks in working order.
The shingle beach at Weybourne Hope has long been considered a vulnerable spot for invasion. Marauding Danes came ashore here in the 9th and 10th centuries and defences were built as prevention against invasion by Spain in the 16th century. Further anti-invasion defences were constructed here during World War II, which explains the large number of concrete pill boxes that can still be seen along this stretch of coastline.
Behind the beach is Weybourne Cliffs, a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest, important for its geology. The remains of a wide variety of marine molluscs have been found here along with both small and large animal fossils. The cliff face is also used as a nest site for sand martins.
Weybourne Priory on the edge of Weybourne village is an Augustinian priory founded by Sir Ralph Mainwaring around 1200. The ruins include the ruined tower of an 11th-century Saxon church, which can be seen attached to the chancel of All Saints’, the current village church.
Halfway between Weybourne and Sheringham and a little way inland on high ground is Sheringham Park. The park was landscaped in the early 19th century by Humphry Repton and many consider it to be the best example of his work. Repton himself considered it to be his ‘favourite and darling child in Norfolk’. Sheringham Hall, which the park surrounds, was designed by Repton’s son John Adey. Both park and hall are now in the ownership of the National Trust.
Sheringham, like neighbouring Cromer, is a former fishing village that enlarged and developed as a resort in the late Victorian period when the railway first arrived.
The town’s seafront promenade has the early 20th-century gardens of The Lees. Leading south from The Lees is The Boulevard, constructed in 1887 to link the seafront with the newly built railway station.
Just to the east of Sheringham stands an isolated hill that is known locally as Beeston Bump, from where there are excellent views out the sea and inland. The hill is part of Cromer Ridge, a range of low hills left behind when the glaciers retreated at the end of the last Ice Age between 15,000 and 10,000 years ago. Beeston Bump was used as the location for a top secret ‘Y’ listening station during World War II and the concrete remains of this can be seen on top of the hill. The area is a geological Site of Special Scientific Interest that also has rare plants.
At Beeston Regis, a short diversion south from the coast path at Beeston Cliffs, is the medieval clifftop church of All Saints’, which contains a magnificent 15th-century rood screen.
West Runton Cliffs between Sheringham and Cromer is a Site of Special Scientific Interest that is of international importance for vertebrate fossils.
The famous West Runton Mammoth, an extinct species twice the weight of an African elephant, was discovered here in 1990 following a storm that revealed a huge pelvic bone. More of the skeleton was recovered during excavations in 1992 and 1995, and a sample of fossil bones from the elephant can be seen in Cromer Museum and in the Castle Museum, Norwich.
In January 2015, close to the elephant site, further erosion of the cliffs revealed part of a pre-historic rhinoceros skull, discovered by an amateur collector.
Cromer became an important seaside resort in the late 19th century when the railway first arrived. The town has long been associated with crab fishing and Cromer crabs are still highly regarded.
The church of St Peter and St Paul in the town has the tallest church tower in the county. Next to the church is Cromer Museum where you can learn all about the fascinating history of the area. The museum includes a fossil display, a cosy Victorian fisherman’s cottage and the ‘Old Cromer’ gallery with displays of historic photographs and illustrations. There is also a nationally important collection of photographs by pioneering North Norfolk photographer Olive Edis.
Cromer Pier built at the beginning of the 20th century houses both the offshore lifeboat station and the end-of-the-pier Pavilion Theatre.
The elegant 19th-century Hotel de Paris on the promenade just above the pier was designed by Norwich architect, George Skipper.
Further along the promenade to the east of the pier is the RNLI Henry Blogg Museum, which documents the thrilling history of the Cromer Lifeboat and the town’s most famous coxswain, Henry Blogg.
Cromer is now also a Walkers Are Welcome town.
Overstrand, along the coast just east of Cromer, was once a crab fishing centre but it became a very fashionable resort for wealthy Londoners at the end of the 19th century when this part of the Norfolk coast was celebrated as ‘Poppyland’ by the writer Clement Scott.
Because of this, Overstrand became known as ‘the village of millionaires’ and there are several grand buildings in the village that date from this period.
Both Overstrand Hall and The Pleasaunce in the village were designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, and Gertrude Jeckyll is also said to have had a hand in designing the gardens of the latter.
Lutyens also designed a late 19th-century Methodist chapel in the village.
Between Overstrand and Trimingham is a mysterious tree-shaded pond that is known locally as ‘The Shrieking Pit’. Although this name is normally associated with the flooded pits of ancient ironworking site, here a local legend tells of a young woman called Esmeralda who is said to have drowned here as the result of a tragic love tryst.
At Sidestrand, the old church of St Michael’s used to stand on the cliff edge.
Because of the threat of erosion the church was partially demolished leaving just its tower in place as a landmark. The solitary round tower finally succumbed to the sea in 1916. In 1881 a new church of the same name was built further inland to exactly the same design using material from the earlier church
Trimingham is home to the Perpendicular-style church of St John the Baptist’s Head, which has a short, heavily buttressed tower and dates from 1300.
A life-sized alabaster carving of St John the Baptist’s head used to be on display here in medieval times and the church would have once been an important place of pilgrimage. As a reminder of this tradition, the small painted rood screen depicts St John the Baptist’s head on a platter.
This impressive 15th Century rood screen, with double-layered carving, also depicts beautifully coloured paintings of eight saints.
Mundesley between Overstrand and Happisburgh is a popular seaside resort with a fine sandy beach.
The village once had its own railway station but this closed in 1964.
Mundesley’s Maritime Museum, one of the smallest in the country, is located in a tiny two-storey building that formerly served as a HM Coastguard lookout station. The Lookout is still manned by volunteers for National Coastwatch.
Happisburgh is probably best known for its red and white banded lighthouse, the oldest working one in East Anglia. The five-storey building was constructed in 1791 in response to a severe storm in 1789 that wrecked 70 ships and claimed 600 lives. Although the lighthouse’s red and white bands are a familiar sight these days, during the years of World War II it was painted in camouflage pattern.
The village’s St Mary’s Church with the second highest tower in the county (Cromer’s church of St Peter and St Paul is a few feet higher) is another prominent local landmark.
The village became famous in 2010, when a large cache of flint tools found on a Happisburgh beach appeared to indicate that the area was the site of early human activity between 1 million and 780,000 years ago. Further evidence came in 2013 when wave erosion exposed a number of fossilised footprints believed to belong to the same hominin (early human) species – Homo antecessor or ‘Pioneer Man’. This is the earliest known record of hominin occupation outside Africa.
Sea Palling is a small coastal resort with a Blue Flag Award swimming beach.
Seals are often seen in the sea here and a humpback whale was spotted out to sea in November 2013 and 2014, so it is worth keeping a lookout.
Like much of the Norfolk coast, the village was very badly affected by the floods of January 1953 – a memorial plaque to the seven villagers who died can be seen in the village’s St Margaret’s Church. In response to these devastating floods, nine offshore reefs were created in 1995 to serve as protection for this vulnerable part of the coast.