Caught in a mizzle – A walk on the north Norfolk coast

A couple of weeks back we jumped in the car and headed north on a spur of the moment decision to get a change of scene and do some coastal exploring. It was good timing, just before the Christmas rush and before our sons (and chaos) settle back at home.

We made it to the Norfolk coast at the harbour town of Wells-next-the-sea. Sadly, the harbour is now largely silted up and the North Sea is a mile further north. A stroll along a mile-long sea wall takes you to a beautiful sandy beach. As we began our walk it started to rain, a gentle, persistent fine mist that gradually blurred the view until, together with the failing light, we could see very little.

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Wells-next-the-sea, with the tide out but a mizzle soaking everything

By the time we made it back to town to check into the hotel, we were soaked and could see some major disadvantages to sharing the room with a soggy dog!

Next morning the weather was thankfully a different story. We returned to the end of the sea wall and joined the beach a little west of the coast guard station, where dogs are allowed.

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It is a climb up a protective sand bank through a narrow band of pine trees to reach the beach. It feels a little like entering a quarantine area. The trees deaden sound impressively and filter the light, creating a twilight zone. Breaking through on the beach side is a strangely liberating feeling.

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Brightly coloured huts on Holkham beach.

Beach huts along this stretch of coast can exchange hands for some serious money (one was on the market in 2012 at £70,000), but you can rent them for ~£30 a day. There are plenty to chose from …

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Above the tide line the beach is covered in soft golden sand.

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Sand dunes erupt from the beach in patches at this northly point (looking roughly toward Blakeney)

Close to the water’s edge there many shells, especially scallops, cockleshells and razorshells. We were striding out in boots, but those razorshells  must be a bit of a worry for people with small children.

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Sandbars emerge as the tide recedes leaving calm lakes enjoyed by the  seabirds (dark-bellied Brent geese, sanderlings and oystercatchers here I think)

People come to this stretch of coast to spot diverse and rare birds. There are daily boat trips to Blakeney Point to see seals. Holkham is where I saw the seal that I mentioned in this month’s wildlife post.

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Miles of unspoilt beach enjoyed by a steady stream of dog walkers and wildlife enthusiasts

We turned back towards the pine forest behind the dunes at Holkham Gap, stepping through thickets of sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides).

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Sea buckthorn is a native to eastern England and largely confined to dunes

The bushes were really glowing in the wintery light.

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Sea buckthorn was an ancient horse remedy (giving rise to its genus name)

So we moved into the muted atmosphere caused by the pine needles, above and below.

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There are apparently three kinds of pines growing in the woods: Corsican, Scots and Maritime. I walked through them oblivious to this variety. The woods were planted in the  late 19th century. Most have grown straight and tall, but there are some fun shapes on the seaward edge of the woods.

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On the landward side of the band of conifers, the pines give way to deciduous trees and scrub. This diversification is a valuable aspect of Holkham Nature Reserve and provides nest sites and feeding areas for a much wider range of birds and insects than the pine ecosystem alone.

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We walked back to Wells and the car through the silent woods. Sadly, we didn’t hear or see any Crossbills, which are supposed to be commonly found here.

This part of the coast is very dog-friendly. Sadie, our labradoodle, was able to accompany us in all of the restaurants, hotels, beaches and parks that we visited. It made our impromptu trip to Norfolk very easy and much more likely to happen again.

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About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
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15 Responses to Caught in a mizzle – A walk on the north Norfolk coast

  1. What a superb beach, it’s always good to hear about ones that have stretches that are dog friendly too. (There’s nothing quite like eau de damp dog, is there?)

    • You can definitely stretch your legs on the beach (we only walked a fraction) and there are plenty of things to watch out for, wildlife-wise, even in winter. Plus the whole area is so dog-friendly that Sadie got fat on the dog biscuits that everyone seems to produce!

  2. Chloris says:

    Lovely pictures. I love the North Norfolk coast. What a great idea to have a pre -Christmas break here.

    • Thanks Liz. We’ve done Brancaster and Hunstanton with the kids quite a lot over the years, but Wells was new. I think that our next trip will be a Norfolk/Suffolk coastal tour, to get a feel for the whole area.

  3. What a sensible way to prepare for the inevitable over-indulgence of the coming weekend. I know and love Wells-Next-The-Sea and now long to have an out of season visit.

    • We coincided with the arrival of Santa’s boat in Wells, so the place turned out to be quite busy with people and festivities in spite of being off-season. We really loved Holkham too, but both towns look like they would be too packed in summer.

  4. love your snowflakes too! Happy Christmas and all the best for 2017!

  5. What a lovely place. HAPPY CHRISTMAS 😊

  6. pbmgarden says:

    What a great place to explore. Happy Holidays.

  7. Eliza Waters says:

    Looks like a lovely spot and the ‘dog-friendliness’ seems like a dream. Impossible on this side of the pond. 😦

  8. Tina says:

    Soggy (and adorable) dog notwithstanding, it looks like your trip was a success. Great photos!

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