Blakeney is an atmospheric, small coastal town in the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is surrounded by stunning salt marsh that encourages wildlife, and has a number of hotels, pubs, and artisan shops that make it popular with tourists. It is our favourite place along the North Norfolk Coast, that draws us back again and again for holidays and days out. This walk was our first ever walk in Norfolk and is a good introduction to the salt marshes and the wildlife.
It’s not a difficult walk and - being around 4.4 miles long and almost flat - should take about two hours, even when stopping for photos and to admire the views. We started out mid-afternoon in lovely sunny conditions, but ended up taking refuge from a heavy hailstorm in a bus shelter near the start/finish point! This was in the first week of June and the start of our first Norfolk holiday. That’s English summers for you! Luckily, the weather was good for the rest of the week.
The walk goes through Blakeney, onto the North Norfolk Coast Path around the Cley marshes to Cley-next-the-Sea, where we walk to the windmill and then come back along the road to Blakeney. Naturally, after heavy rain the paths around the marshes could get muddy, so make sure you have good boots.
There is a free car park on the corner of Langham Road and the A149, but if this is full there is plenty of paid parking down at Blakeney harbour.
From our start point we carefully cross the A149 and go down Westgate Street towards the harbour. We just love the harbour and would often walk around here in the evenings. From the harbour there is also the chance to go on a seal spotting boat trip to Blakeney Point. After walking along the short quay turn to the right and have a look at the remains of the 14th century Guildhall. You can look through the window and see the undercroft. Just to the left of the Guildhall is a small mound from which you get lovely views over the marshes.
We’re now going to join the North Norfolk Coast Path on a raised bank that goes away from Blakeney. Just as you climb the bank, an attractive duck pond lets you start practising your bird spotting skills!
With your back towards Blakeney, follow the footpath along the raised bank in the same direction as the River Glaven. The path and river soon divert from one another. The landscape offers pretty salt marsh views and the chance to spot all kinds of birds. The path is well-worn and clearly marked and takes you to the village of Cley-next-the-Sea, which is famous for its windmill.
Cley is another Norfolk town we like. It is not as big as Blakeney, and its roads are rather narrow and often stuck with traffic, but neither distracts from its charms. Cley has a great deli and smokehouse, a couple of artists' galleries, and a pub. When in the area, we frequently drop in to buy lunch from the deli and smokehouse.
Just before you get to the road, turn left along a footpath on a raised bank and continue over the River Glaven into the village of Cley. Follow the main road through the village until you see a red telephone box on your right-hand side. Now take the small footpath to the left that runs along the side of the Old Town Hall House. At the end of the garden the footpath turns sharp right, and we continue along the path until we meet the River Glaven and Cley quayside where the windmill can be clearly seen.
After taking a break at the windmill, follow the road back to the High Street, where we turn right to walk back through Cley and on the A149 to Blakeney. Although the A149 is a main road, the levels of traffic are very low, especially outside the main holiday season. A pavement runs along one side of the road for most of the walk back to Blakeney. Look out for the Wiveton Hall Farm Shop, where - during the summer - you can buy freshly picked fruit and seasonal vegetables, including the famously tasty Norfolk asparagus.
As you head back into Blakeney, you'll pass St. Nicholas' church, where there's the chance of climbing the tower which, at 100 feet tall, gives fine views. From the church, you continue along the A149 to return to the start point of the walk.
We love this part of the country and were really sad when the holiday cottage we liked so much in Blakeney became a private home. However, it did make us research the area again and try something new - Honey Barrel Cottage in Stiffkey. Again, we were close to the salt marshes and could explore new parts of the north Norfolk coast path. So my selection of holiday cottages are spread along our favourite parts...
Or, if you fancy staying in a hotel here are some nice examples...
Please click here if you would like to review more Norfolk hotels.
Are you feeling in need of a holiday yet? Here are a few more pages that might give you ideas...