Norfolk Coast Path: Coasthopper Day Walks between Hunstanton and Wells-next-the-Sea

Enjoy laid-back walking under huge skies, across pristine beaches and nature-rich salt marshes across the coastal strip of East Anglia. Visit medieval churches, stately homes and a famous shrine whilst enjoying sea-fresh shellfish and lavish hospitality at a string of gastro-pubs along this undeveloped stretch of coastline.

North Norfolk’s big skies and wide-open beaches make it the perfect destination for clearing the mind and invigorating the body. This relaxed 5-day itinerary explores the sand dunes, mudflats and coastal creeks along one of England’s least developed stretches of coastline. This shore-line landscape is low-lying and inlaid with a complex tracework of tidal creeks and channels, making it an oasis for wildlife – especially birds. The paths are well-surfaced and signposted, making navigation straightforward as you traverse freshwater reedbeds, sand dunes and salt marshes. This tranquil wildness nestles up close to picture-perfect seaside villages, small fishing ports and a chain of ancient yet ornate parish churches, some with Saxon origins. Other attractions include the site of a prehistoric henge, a Palladian mansion and the birthplace of Admiral Horatio Nelson. The trail’s finale follows in the footsteps of medieval pilgrims in search of the spirit of the Madonna to a holy shrine in a ruined priory in the village of Walsingham.

Tour Overview

The icons below highlight the distance, difficulty and theme of this itinerary.

Distance

32km

Number of Days

5

Grade

Gentle

Theme

History / Coastal / Food & Drink

Landscape Type

By Water / Rolling Countryside

Norfolk Coast Path: Coast Hopper Day Walks between Hunstanton and Wells-next-the-Sea

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Itinerary

Base yourself at any of the great places to stay for four or five nights, then use the much-loved Coasthopper bus service to follow a different walk every day. Our relaxed itinerary allows ample time to explore the attractions along the way as it heads east along the coast to the quaint little port of Wells-next-the-Sea via the captivating coastal villages of Thornham, Titchwell, Brancaster and the Burnhams – birthplace of Admiral Horatio Nelson.

Day 1 Hunstanton to Thornham

Walk from Hunstanton to Old Hunstanton and grab a coffee at one of the cafés. From here the coastal path undulates through the dunes. Return to the path to the Norfolk Wildlife Trust site at Holme, passing the site of an ancient monument: Seahenge. The wooden remains of the original Bronze Age monument are on display at the Museum in the old Hanseatic City of King’s Lynn. Continue to Thornham and have a meal at the Lifeboat – an old Smuggler’s Inn and one of many pubs along this stretch renowned for its food. 10km/6miles

Day 2 Titchwell to Brancaster

Hop aboard the Coasthopper bus to the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) reserve at Titchwell, where you’ll find world-class bird-watching opportunities on the lagoons. There’s a lovely cafe and the chance to enjoy a warden-led walk. Follow the footpath through pastureland and saltmarsh onto the wide sandy expanse of Brancaster beach. Walk eastwards towards the granite blocks that protect the golf club and at low tide look for the remains of a petrified forest among the mussel beds and the wreck of the SS Vina on the tip of Scolt Head island. At the golf club follow the path inland past St Mary’s Church and into Brancaster. 10km/6miles

Day 3 Holkham Hall

Spend a day exploring the many and varied delights of this exquisite Palladian mansion, set within an almost perfectly conceived English garden and parkland. Holkham is the historic home of the Coke family, Earls of Leicester. The present Earl is the keeper of one of England’s finest treasure houses.  The park ensures that every vista offers views of the splendid Italian-style Hall. Pop into the Victoria Inn for lunch or take the Coasthopper into Wells-next-the-Sea to explore this quaint seaside town: part port, part seaside resort.

Day 4 Burnham Deepdale to Holkham Beach

Hit the trail at Burnham Deepdale, following the floodbank to Burnham Overy Staithe. The Burnhams have six medieval churches within two miles of each other, some with unusual round towers signifying their antiquity. Admiral Horatio Nelson was born at Burnham Thorpe and learned to sail in the coastal creeks on the square rigger ships that would have plied their trade here.  Continue along the floodbank, past Gun Hill and onto Holkham beach – one of the most beautiful in England. Follow the bay round to the main access point and onto the boardwalk leading onto Lady Ann’s Drive, and the Coasthopper stop at the southern end.  12km/7.5 miles

Day 5 A Pilgrimage from Wells to Walsingham

Take the charming narrow-gauge steam railway from Wells-next-the-Sea to the village of Walsingham – renowned across Europe as a major site of Christian pilgrimage in the middle-ages. In 1061, the Virgin Mary appeared to Lady Richeldis of Walsingham Manor and the priory that later grew around this sacred site became England’s Nazareth until Henry VIII ordered its Dissolution. Throughout the ensuing centuries, the fates of England and Europe were linked by North Sea maritime trade and these pretty Norfolk villages were once gateways for people, trade and ideas.

Accommodation

Accommodation on this stretch of the Norfolk coast is abundant and varied, ranging from comfortable campsites to cosy B&Bs and upmarket hotels at both ends of our route. The Coasthopper bus service makes walking each section from a single base perfectly feasible.

Travel

Air / Rail

Train from Stansted Airport via Ely to Kings Lynn (1hr 40mins). Eurostar to London St Pancras then Train to Kings Lynn. Fly from Schipol to Norwich International followed by train to Sheringham.

Ferries

Stena Line’s Dutchflyer Rail & Sail service provides city-to-city travel by rail and ferry from Amsterdam/Rotterdam to Norwich, via Harwich International. Then either take a train or bus to north Norfolk.

Bus

The trail is well-served by the dependable Coasthopper bus service, making it easy to try a different walk every day from a fixed accommodation base or hop on and off the trail to explore whichever sections appeal.

Advice

The walking on this coast is undemanding but rewarding and these itineraries are designed to combine walking with sight-seeing on foot or by using the Coasthopper bus service. The path can be walked all year round and in the summer months, sunscreen is likely to be more important than stout walking boots.

Food & Drink

This stretch of coastline has become something of a foodie paradise, where a plate of fresh shellfish is never far away! In the winter and spring months, mussels are a staple – look out for them on the menu in the string of fine dining pubs along the trail. Samphire – the asparagus of the saltmarsh is another delicacy and smoked prawns are not to be missed. Locally reared game also features extensively on local menus in autumn and winter. Pubs like the Victoria at Holkham and the White Horse at Brancaster Staithe offer superior snacks and a la carte menus – with alfresco dining popular in summer.

Maps, Guidebooks and Merchandise

The official guidebook and map for the Trail are available from the National Trails Shop along with a wide range of gifts and other merchandise.

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