When you drive from the village of Blakeney towards Cley-next-the-Sea, you first notice the windmill. It sits on the edge of the Cley Marshes Nature Reserve, its sails silhouetted against the endless horizons beyond.

The small Norfolk village of Cley-next-the-Sea is so beautiful that the BBC has even used it as a backdrop between programs. And you really can't blame them.

Cley is picture-postcard perfect with its flint houses and flower-filled window-boxes.

As other villages along this stretch of coast, Cley was once a thriving trading port. Its Medieval harbour was in front of St Margaret's Church - in an area now silted up and overgrown. It appears quite a way from the sea now, with the beach, the Marshes and even the main road separating it from open water.

But what caused the decline of the wealth brought by shipping, eventually brought wealth by tourism. Cley-next-the-Sea is renowned for its peace and tranquillity, for its wonderful views, for long leisurely walks and spectacular wildlife.

Cley's a friendly, busy place and like Blakeney just a mile or so up the road, makes a good base for a relaxing Norfolk break.

Cley-next-the-Sea Windmill © essentially-england.comCley-next-the-Sea Windmill ©

Picnic Fayre, the deli at the corner is richly stocked with all manner of tasty bits for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Often we stop for food when going to picnic on Cley Beach. There's fresh bread and a very fine selection of cheeses. There are pastries and cakes, olives and antipasti, oils and sauces, fresh and dried pasta ... and even ready meals for those who are not at all in the mood to cook. Alongside all of this bounty you can find snacks, super fresh vegetables, wines and even fresh coffee.

And if this is not enough food, there's a great place selling truly mouthwatering ice-cream and just across from the deli you'll find the Cley Smokehouse offering the tastiest of smoked goods.

But don't think for a moment that you'll now have to go hungry in Cley-next-the-Sea. You could not be more wrong. The village is host to several small cafes and a pub.

And you can find lots of good artwork, too. The Pinkfoot Gallery in the High Street usually has beautiful landscapes in its windows, and Made in Cley opposite is a dream if your taste runs to handmade pottery or jewellery.

Panorama of Cley-next-the-Sea and Cley Marshes Nature Reserve © essentially-england.comPanorama of Cley-next-the-Sea and Cley Marshes Nature Reserve ©

If you want to walk to Blakeney Point to see the seals, the start point is the Cley Beach car park which is about a mile outside of Cley itself. It's a beautiful walk, but can be quite tough on the knees and ankles as most of the time you're walking on stones and shingle. We believe the best time of day to do the walk is at low tide as then you can walk close to the sea and the slope into the water is less steep.

So - all in all - there's really no reason not to make a stop in Cley when you're spending time on the North Norfolk coast. I promise you'll love it!

Are You Planning a Holiday in Norfolk?

Where You Could Stay

Norfolk has no shortage of fabulous holiday accommodation whether you want to spend time on the beach, love boating or want to explore inland. You may covet a tiny fisherman's cottage like the one in Blakeney we kept returning to. You may like something larger and more modern like a loft overlooking the Norfolk Broads, or the right place for you may be a chic city apartment perfectly placed to explore Norwich...

The Granary
Sleeps 4

Holkham Skies
Sleeps 2

1 Station Cottages
Sleeps 2

To see other holiday cottages in Norfolk click here. Or check out holiday cottages in other parts of England by clicking here.

Or you could try a family orientated holiday resort in Norfolk. There's plenty of choice...

If you need to find a hotel, then try one of these search platforms...


What You Could See and Do

It's next to impossible to be bored in Norfolk, there's just so much to do and see. The list below includes some of our favourite places

For more holiday ideas return from Cley-next-the-Sea to the Norfolk page.