This is really as far away from ‘Highlands’ as it gets, I’m afraid (especially having just read a report from Mont Blanc!) – there’s more ascent in two or three miles on most mountains than in the whole 47 miles of the Norfolk Coast Path. But this coastline holds the nostalgic pull of seemingly hundreds of childhood holidays, and the walk – beautiful in places, testing in others – is quite a challenge tackled in a weekend.
Starting from the eastern end, having caught the Coasthopper bus from Hunstanton (just £3.70 - taking a leisurely two hours over what would take sixteen to walk back…), Cromer is best left quickly. A typical ‘seaside town they forgot to close down’…, not improved by an industrial sprawl over the first few hundred yards of the Path. The route to Sheringham is inland, down lanes and then good paths through pleasant deciduous woodland, crossing without fanfare the (singularly nondescript) county highpoint of Beacon Hill.
From there, most of the rest of the Path hugs the coastline, or at least as near as a traversable path can go. Here it crosses its nearest thing to a ‘peak’ - Beeston Bump, a steep short climb through the wild flowers up to a trigpoint in a terrific clifftop setting, with long views: probably about as good as a 63m hill gets!
The section from here to Weybourne Hope, undulating over the sandstone cliffs, is the best part of the Path both underfoot and to the eye.
For the following four miles though, you never leave the beach – nice sights and smells of the sea, but ankle-deep in heavy, shifting shingle throughout, making for relentlessly tough going. It’s quite a relief to pick up a decent path along the floodbank through the mudflats to Cley and then onto Blakeney, two pretty and obviously well-heeled villages.
From there to Wells, the walking is unvarying and (other than for ‘twitchers’) perhaps a little dull – long, long miles following flat paths just inland of the edge of the broad salt-marshes that distance you from the sea. You could at least eat for weeks (or perhaps raise an illegitimate fortune!) by harvesting the mass of samphire and blackberries that grow beside the path...
Wells itself, like Sheringham earlier, for me is just about what a seaside town should be – striking a balance nicely between the genteel and the trashy. And although the walk out to sea along the bank and then through the woodlands towards Holkham has been half-spoilt by an ever-growing holiday park, it’s still rather lovely at twilight.
This board helps you to share your walking route experiences in England and Wales... or overseas.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.