A two-day hike along Norfolk’s coastal path from Cromer to Holkham

16 March 2022

The entire path runs from Hunstanton to Hopton-on-Sea and covers eighty-four miles. If you are short on time, this two-day hike covers twenty-four miles of diverse scenery from the seaside town of Cromer to the sweeping sand dunes of Holkham.

Put on your hiking boots and head to Cromer

Put on your hiking boots and head for two days of freedom and spectacular scenery on Norfolk’s scenic coastal trail. Catch a train or bus from Norwich to Cromer just twenty miles away.

With its Victorian pier and fish n’ chip shops, a visit to Cromer is like going back to another era. In fact, it’s one of the few places left in the UK which still hosts a traditional variety show on its pier.

Before setting off on your adventure, why not enjoy a hearty breakfast at the Rocket House? Not only is the food tasty, but it has a birds-eye-view of the beach and pier from the balcony.

Fossil Beach

Make tracks towards Runton Beach and look out for the goats on the grassy knoll to the left of the beach. The shingle beach is backed by chalk cliffs dating back eighty million years.

At West Runton, take time out to search for fossils. One of the best preserved and oldest fossilized skeletons of a steppe mammoth was discovered here in 1990 and fossil hunters often find flint axes and mammoth bones nearby.

Across the Clifftops to Sheringham

After trudging across the shingle, it’s a relief to hit the clifftop trails. Although Norfolk is famous for its flat landscape, this stretch has a few small hills including the not-too-daunting Beeston Bump.

Passing a nature trail where a variety of local flowers and fauna can be seen, there are panoramic views over the North Sea. Soon, the seaside town of Sheringham soon comes into view.

A popular spot for family holidays, the town is also famous for its heritage steam railway, attracting  railway fanatics from far and wide. The promenade is lined with ice cream parlours and cafes, making it the perfect pit stop for refreshments.

On the other side of Sheringham, climb Skelding Hill to the coastal lookout, one of many surveillance stations on the UK’s coastline. On a bright day, the sun sparkles down on the sea and there are wonderful views of the cliffs in both directions.

The Saltmarshes

Three miles on, descend into the quaint village of Weybourne with its flint cottages surrounded by winding country lanes. Leaving the village, follow the that track cuts across the marshes to the welcoming sight of the Dun Cow Pub at Saltmarsh.

A perfect spot for lunch or dinner, the pub has stunning views across the marshes. Check out the delicious fish pie with creamy mash and wash it down with a pint of Norfolk ale.

Feeling energised after a rest and some pub grub, set off across Cley Marshes Nature Reserve. The area is a renowned bird-watching site which is populated by a wide variety of water birds year-round.

A Night in a Windmill

Cley-next-the-Sea is an ideal place to end your first day’s hike. For an authentic experience, spend the night at Cley Windmill, a Norfolk landmark.

The windmill was built in the early 19th century and is believed to have once been a smuggler’s den.  Nowadays, it’s a charming B&B and has panoramic views of the marshes from the terrace.

Seals Galore

After a good night’s sleep, take a stroll along the beach to the hamlet of Blakeney. Previously a medieval port, the village consists of a few small shops, a pub and restored church

Blakeney Point is home to five hundred seals and is the country’s largest grey seal colony. You can take a boat tour from Morston Quay to see the basking seals and pups at close range.

Back on dry land, take a break at Stiffkey and indulge in lunch at The Red Lion. Try the delicious freshly caught crab, a local speciality.

The coastal path then cuts through the open landscape of the saltmarshes. Look out for migratory wildfowl as you walk.

The Final Stretch

A bustling fishing harbour, Wells-next-the-Sea is the last of the towns you will pass through. Browse in the galleries and gift shops and perhaps treat yourself to a memento of your Norfolk adventure.

In summer, the town brims with families enjoying ice cream and fish n’ chips on the quay. If you are feeling weary, you may be tempted to hop on the miniature railway which takes passengers the mile from the harbour to the beach.  

With its iconic colourful beach huts, Wells Beach is one of the most photographed in Norfolk. From there, you can either continue along the sands or follow a trail through the pine trees.

Either way, you will finally emerge at Holkham Beach, where you will be treated to an incredible view of pristine golden sands as far as the eye can see.

Before taking a bus back to Norwich, find yourself a spot to relax in the sand dunes. Soak up the beauty of Holkham Beach and reflect on a hike to remember on Norfolk’s Coastal Path.