Category: BRITAIN
Hits: 1997



NORTH NORFOLK COAST; HUNSTANTON to SHERINGHAM: Blakeney Point (Morston Salt Marshes), Brancaster (Scolt Head Island), Cley next the Sea, Dead Man’s Hill, Holkham Bay (Overy Marsh), Holme next the Sea (Gore Point), North Norfolk Coastal Path, Peddars Way, Salthouse, Stiffkey Salt Marshes, Titchwell, Wells next the Sea (Warham Salt Marshes and Greens)

National Grid (see text) 00o00´/00o00´ N/A ha m, shingle, saltmarsh, dunes, pines 
Anytime (03.05.92, 15-17.05.92, 15-16.05.93, 21-22.05.93, 20-22.05.94, 19-21.05.95)


Birding Site Guide

Also search BSG with ‘Norfolk’ for other sites nearby, or by a species, as there are many good birding sites in the county. The places are given in this account West to East, some sites may also have individual accounts on BSG. The main coast road is the A149, the heaths lie S of this road and information on them is given in a separate account on BSG; North Norfolk Heaths.

HUNSTANTON on the NE side of the Wash (National Grid TF672408) 13m, is where the North Norfolk Coastal Path starts (on the B1161), and as you head NE out of town you pass cliffs that become sand dunes. The sea watching from Hunstanton provides probably the best opportunity in Norfolk for sea ducks, sawbills, grebes and divers and passage shearwaters and Skuas. Further along there are the marshes and reedbeds of HOLME NEXT THE SEA with its bird observatory and accommodation. There are also some isolated pines and scrub which are attractive to migrants and GORE POINT (TF708449) which is just above sea level, and the open water of Broad Water. The marshes continue E past Thornham, where there is a high tide wader roost, to the RSPB TITCHWELL reserve (TF748438) 3m, which has full visitor facilities including a large car park, cafe and shop. The reserve has huge reedbeds which are excellent for breeding Bittern, Bearded Tits and Reed Warblers and large areas of open water with a good range of water birds. As well as the footpaths on the reserve there is a N-S Public Right of Way along the edge of the reserve which runs right to the beach.

A little further E brings you to the large National Trust Reserve at BRANCASTER (SCOLT HEAD ISLAND 1,800ha) where there is a car park at the W end (TF771450). The main attractions here are the breeding Sandwich and Common Terns. The coastal path continues along the S side past Burnham Harbour to HOLKHAM BAY and OVERY MARSH (TF860448). The Holkham Pines (Corsican Pines) along the beach and associated bushes are a good migrant trap as is the lake side at the nearby Holkham Hall lying just S of here over the A149 (see separate account on BSG).

The coastal path continues N of WELLS NEXT THE SEA (TF916434, 12m) with WARHAM SALT MARSHES AND GREENS (TF939445) to another National Trust property STIFFKEY SALT MARSHES (TF965440), the only access here being by a short N-S Public Right of Way, the coast path continues along its S edge and to the adjacent National Trust MORTON SALT MARSHES which has parking and visitor centre at TF005442. This area is directly S of the National Trust’s BLAKENEY POINT (TG001463), which lies at the most northern part of Norfolk on its N coast and adjoins Cley (E). It is 1,340ha 2m, shingle, saltmarsh and dunes. Blakeney town is on the A149 coast road, there is parking N of the town, but the main access to the point is 2.6km E of town where there is a turning N for 1.1km to the car park on the coast at Cley Eye.

The Point is a natural shingle bar extending W over 6km long, enclosing an area of saltmarsh. The River Glaven flows in from its E end. Areas to bird from along the Point include The Marrams, The Hood (halfway), Long Hills/Pits Point. The NT operate a boat to the head from Morston (2km W of Blakeney), otherwise it is possible to park at the car park at the Cley Eye end and walk. Common and Little Terns breed, along with a few Arctic; gulls and waders are obvious attractions, as are Brent Geese in winter and the site can turn up rarities too as on my visit when a superb Woodchat Shrike was present. The North Norfolk Coast can attract good numbers of Lapland Buntings in winter.

CLEY (TG053440) (Norfolk Naturalists’ Trust, National Trust) consists c.266ha 1-7m, shingle beach and brackish and freshwater pools with large reedbeds. Cley lies on the E side of the River Glaven outlet with Blakeney Point to the W and Salthouse Heath is immediately SW over the A149 (see separate North Norfolk Heaths account on BSG).

Cley Next The Sea lies just S of the main coast road, the A149. Parking is found 1.1km N from the town off A149 on the coast at Cley Eye or just E of town at the visitor centre (S side of road) and a little further along on N side of road. There is a path with a few hides and an admission fee is charged for non-members.

This is one of the best birding sites in Britain and anything can turn up. It is particularly good for passage waders and harriers. Autumn brings flocks of terns and Little Gulls. The reedbeds have large numbers of Bearded Tits, and Bittern. In winter the site, especially along the beach, is good for Horned Lark, Snow and Lapland Buntings. Also along the beach heading E towards the coast guards are some isolated Tamarisk bushes which attract incoming weary migrants. Over 280 species have been recorded in the area.

Moving on E past Salthouse Marshes on the coastal path along the beach now brings you to the National Trust’s DEAD MAN’S HILL (National Grid TG131435, 30m).


Birds seen (this is a composite list from all my visits). My list below gives an idea of species which can be expected, but also includes a few rarities, dates of visits are given at the top of the page.


Coastal plants found on the North Norfolk Coast (follows Stace)


Author: BSG