Wells-next-the-Sea to Holkham Walk
An Essentially England Fish 'n' Chip Run & Walk

Our Wells-next-the-Sea to Holkham Hall walk is a real treat. This relatively flat, 7-mile circular walk gives you all sorts of vistas. Starting from Wells' busy harbourside overlooking salt marsh, the walk takes you to the beach, through sand dunes, into a pine forest, then up into the Holkham Hall estate where the route passes through deer parkland and woodland to return to Wells-next-the-Sea. The walk really does have a bit of everything and the chance of spotting some interesting wildlife is high. There is also plenty of choice if you fancy a stop for refreshments.

We'd planned the visit as a Valentine’s Day treat and fish ‘n’ chip run, but the weather was against us, with twelve days of storms and rain delaying our trip. In the end, we set off on a sunny, cool and windy February day and arrived just before noon. We parked in our usual car park, the Wells Town Car Park, along the B1105 Holkham Road. It has plenty of room, but please be aware that the car park closes at 4pm during the winter months!

From the car park, follow the footpath that passes the football pitch, skateboard area, and playground to the harbour.

The Harbour at Wells-next-the-SeaThe Harbour at Wells-next-the-Sea © essentially-england.com
Tasty Fish 'n' Chips at Wells-next-the-SeaTasty Fish 'n' Chips at Wells © essentially-england.com

Since we'd arrived in time for lunch, getting some of Wells' fabulous fish ‘n’ chips was first on the agenda. There are two very good chip shops along the quayside. We’ve tried both over the years and make our choice by the length of the queue waiting to be served. At Essentially England we believe that fish ‘n’ chips is best eaten by the sea, and in Wells-next-the-Sea you can sit right on the quayside watching the boats and overlooking salt marsh. Be warned, though... it can get rather busy!

The Latest Catch at Wells-next-the-SeaThe Latest Catch at Wells © essentially-england.com
View from the Harbour at Wells-next-the-SeaView from the Harbour at Wells © essentially-england.com

So, after a tasty brunch we set off on our walk…

Wells-next-the-Sea to Holkham Walk

The walk starts at the harbour area and sets off down the smooth tarmac footpath that runs the mile down to the beach. You get fine views out over the salt marsh and the East Fleet channel running into the harbour.

Towards the end of the path there is a small harbour area. As the path curves around the new lifeboat station, it rises and turns sandy. To your left is a café area if required. Follow the sandy path passed the Coastwatch Lookout and onto some boardwalk to reach the beach.

Fishing Boat Approaching Wells-next-the-SeaFishing Boat in East Fleet Channel © essentially-england.com
Boardwalk onto Wells BeachBoardwalk onto Wells Beach © essentially-england.com

The walk turns left onto the sandy beach and follows the line of colourful beach huts. It is well worth wandering on the beach, which at low tide is massive. If you’ve brought your lunch with you, then the beach will make a fine picnic spot.

This was our first visit to Wells-next-the-Sea when it was almost high tide, so we were lucky in that we didn’t have too far to walk to the water's edge. We were also lucky, and surprised, to see two seals basking in the sun. We weren’t expecting the seals to be around at this time of year!

Beach Huts on Wells BeachColourful Beach Huts on Wells Beach
© essentially-england.com
Seal Basking in the Sunshine on WellsSeal Basking in the Sunshine on Wells Beach
© essentially-england.com

At the end of the line  of beach huts, the beach starts to form sand dunes. Continue walking with the pine trees to your left and the dunes on your right. And note how little you can hear of the waves, even though you're only a few metres from the tideline.

Walking through the Sand Dunes on Wells BeachWalking through the Sand Dunes on Wells Beach
© essentially-england.com
Reflections in the Water Between the Sand Dunes on Wells BeachReflections in the Water Between the Dunes on Wells Beach
© essentially-england.com

After about 1.5 miles, look for a signpost to Lady Anne’s Drive and Holkham village on your left, and follow the path upwards away from the beach. It's bracketed by wooden fencing, so you can't miss it, and it soon turns to boardwalk. Follow the boardwalk through the shade of the pines until it reaches the Lady Anne’s Drive car park. IF refreshments are needed, the Lookout café is here.

Footpath onto Holkham BeachFootpath onto Holkham Beach
© essentially-england.com
Boardwalk Through The Pine Forest at Holkham BeachBoardwalk Through The Pine Forest at Holkham Beach
© essentially-england.com

The walk continues up Lady Anne’s Drive and has fine views to the left and right over the Holkham nature reserve. Be careful though, as vehicles will be coming and going and/or parking.

View over Holkham Nature ReserveView over Holkham Nature Reserve © essentially-england.com
Holkham Park North GateHolkham Park North Gate © essentially-england.com

If you fancy stopping for lunch, then The Victoria Inn at the crossroads with the A149 may tempt you. Otherwise, cross the road and continue up the gentle slope of Park Road to the grand North Gateway into Holkham Park. There is a notice on the gateway pointing to a small gate on the left which cyclist and pedestrians should use. This is to avoid walking over the cattle grid.

Holkham ParkHolkham Park © essentially-england.com
Deer in Holkham ParkDeer in Holkham Park © essentially-england.com

Ignore any footpaths going to the left and right and continue in the same direction as the road towards Holkham Hall. The views here are stunning, lush green grass with trees dotted here and there. Keep your eyes open for herds of deer. You’ll also get glimpses of The Coke Monument through the trees.

The View in Holkham ParkThe View in Holkham Park © essentially-england.com
Holkham Park © essentially-england.comHolkham Park © essentially-england.com

Just before the entrance to the car park is a sharp left-hand turn, which almost doubles back on itself. At this point you have a choice, if you want to see Holkham Hall and the lake, then follow the road past the car park and return to this point to continue the walk.

The Impressive Holkham HallThe Impressive Holkham Hall © essentially-england.com

Otherwise, the walk turns sharp left onto the narrower track. At the next fork, follow the left-hand track again, towards the East Gate. This track leads to a cattle grid and gate and into woodland. Continue along the path, pass through the East Gate, and on towards a junction at a sharp bend in the A149 road.

The Woodland Path Towards the East GateThe Woodland Path Towards the East Gate
© essentially-england.com
The Road back to Wells-next-the-SeaThe Road back to Wells-next-the-Sea
© essentially-england.com

Turn right onto the road and use the pavement on the left-hand side. Continue on the pavement until the road turns sharp right, where we turn left into Mill Road. Follow Mill Road around to the right to a crossroads. We’re now back in Wells-next-the-Sea and walking along some of the more shopping orientated streets. There’ll also be a good selection of refreshment stops if required.

Straithe Street in Wells-next-the-Sea
Straithe Street in Wells-next-the-Sea

Straithe Street in Wells-next-the-Sea © essentially-england.com

Ignore Clubbs Lane and The Buttlands on your left and right and go straight ahead on Station Road. Take the second left turning into Staithe Street and walk gently back down to the harbour area.


We really enjoyed this walk, but realised in Holkham Park that we were a bit rushed to get back to our car before the car park closed. This meant we didn’t walk down to see Holkham Hall, although we have been there in the past. It was just before 4 o’clock when we got back to the car, and gone four when we were ready to leave. There didn’t seem to be any rush to close the car park, and there were still plenty of cars still there.

Are You Planning to Visit Norfolk?

Where You Could Stay

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...

Primrose Cottage
Sleeps 6

Apartment 2 The Granary
Sleeps 2

Eric's Cottage
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...

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What You Could See and Do

Are you feeling in need of a holiday yet? Here are a few more pages that might give you ideas...

Alternatively, for more holiday ideas return from our Wells to Holkham walk page to the Norfolk page.