Norfolk Coast Path: [1] Kings Lynn - Hunstanton

Date walked: 30/12/2019

Time taken: 2 days

Distance: 11.5km

Ascent: 35m

Norfolk Coast Path: [1] Kings Lynn - Hunstanton

This report the is the first of four that I'll be uploading covering the Norfolk Coast Path/England Coast Path:

Norfolk Coast Path: [1] Kings Lynn - Hunstanton
Norfolk Coast Path: [2] Hunstanton - Cromer
Norfolk Coast Path: [3] Cromer - Happisburgh
Norfolk Coast Path: [4] Happisburgh - Hopton-on-Sea

Currently, there are some sections at the extremities that have yet to be finalised (due later this year, 2020, although there is scant evidence of progress south of the Snettisham RSPB reserve.) I've discussed the current state of play as I've found it, including making use of the Iceni Way/Walsingham Way between Kings Lynn and Snettisham.

Norfolk Coast Path: [1] Kings Lynn - Hunstanton

King's Lynn to Snettisham Pits

Currently the only official continuous footpath from Kings Lynn to Snettisham follows the coincident section of the Iceni Way/Walsingham Way to Castle Rising (excellent village and castle - well worth a visit), and from there along the Iceni Way to Sandringham and Dersingham (also very much worth visits in their own right) before following a north-westerly route to almost the southernmost of the Snettisham RSPB Reserve pits. It's a very worthwhile, if seldom walked, route, but couldn't really be called a coastal path by any stretch of the imagination. I suspect that the intrepid could find a much more coastal route but I wouldn't recommend trying it until the rights of way issues, way-marking and paths are sorted out. It's very remote, prone to flooding and outside people aren't particularly welcome (rural crime is a real issue in remote parts of the county). I've explored some of it as far as I'm able, (it used to be a good place to see Montague's Harriers) and I've been out there with my SAR Dog and the local rescue team. At present best left for the locals who work and live there and know it well. When the Coast Path is sorted, I'll walk it and update my report.

At the present time the route from Dersingham brings you to the southern end of RSPB Snettisham Reserve where the bird-watching is absolutely outstanding, especially on the pits during winter high tides when thousands of waders roost there. In addition, sea duck, scarcer species of Grebe and divers may be present in winter.

This inland route (not currently marked on O/S maps) is about 15 miles/25 kms in length, however, John Merrill does an excellent little guide to the Walsingham Way (recommended) which would guide you as far as Castle Rising*.
The Ramblers Association have published a guide to the Iceni Way (ISBN 1 901184 641) which is also excellent, but probably currently out of print. Again, I'd recommend it if you can get hold of a copy.
O/S Explorer Map 250 Norfolk Coast West covers all this section.

*I have done a Walk Highlands report "Walsingham Way: Kings Lynn to Walsingham" which might be useful for the section from Kings Lynn to Castle Rising.

Snettisham RSPB Reserve to Heacham

This section of the Norfolk coast has been part of the Iceni Way, an 84 mile westerly route from Knettishall Heath to Hunstanton, since 1998. As an established coastal path this section is very likely to be adopted as part of the England Coast Path due to be completed in 2020.

There are two clear alternatives between Snettisham Beach and Heacham.
The most obvious is to follow the beach all the way. Great for the dogs, possibly a little exposed and, exceptionally, does flood, but a good walk with "big skies".

The beach route

The other alternative runs a few hundred meters inland along the tops of the sea defenses. Although exposed, it offers a safer bad weather alternative to walking along the beach. Extensive wetland management is taking place here as part of the Ken Hills Estate Wetland Enhancement and Restoration Project. I've walked the section around Snettisham pits on many occasions, especially in the winter months, when the bird watching can be spectacular. (On this walk the highlight was two Rough-legged Buzzards, but egrets, wildfowl and waders were also present.)
Frankly, the inland route probably has more interest, but it comes down to personal preference. The circular route (about 5.5 miles/9 kms) is excellent.
web_7392 Ken Hills Estate Wetland Project.jpg
Ken Hills Estate Wetland Project

web_7382 Inland route along the flood defences.jpg
Inland route along the flood defenses

web_7379 Approaching Heacham.jpg
Approaching Heacham

The round trip from Heacham South Beach to Snettisham, which I completed on 30.12.2019, is about 5.3 miles/8.5 kms Ascent +/- 10m (allow about two hours for the round trip)

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Heacham to Hunstanton

Less than 50m up the road from the start of the promenade at Heacham South Beach [TF 66350 37474] is a fish and chip shop on the left. As it serves the local community as well as holiday makers it is often open when other facilities are not. In my opinion, it is well worth a visit if you are hungry or want a hot drink, it is nearly three miles to Hunstanton from here and there may be nothing else open until you reach it. For what it's worth, I thought my cod and chips was excellent (and my dogs seemed very happy with their sausage!)

From Heacham South Beach [TF 66350 37474] there is concrete promenade all the way to Hunstanton, however dogs have to be kept on leads on much of the promenade and are not allowed on Hunstanton Beach from the beginning of May until the end of September.

An evening walk does, however, afford the opportunity of a fine sunset over the sea at high tide (something not normally available on England's East Coast, but this coast faces west!)

The round trip from Hunstanton to Heacham on 26.09.2018. Length: 5.75 miles/9 km Ascent: +/-25m (c. 1 hour each way). Heacham to Hunstanton: 2.82 miles/4.53 km

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King's Lynn to Hunstanton is, in total, probably little more than 20 miles walking at present, but it felt much further than that. I've no doubt many could do it in just one day but some of the going (mud/sand/overgrown) is hard work.
The distance recorded just represents my additional, personal total: 11.5 kms / 7 miles (Walsingham Way is recorded elsewhere)

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Comments: 2

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Activity: Munro compleatist
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Member: MTA; LDWA; Norfolk Wildlife Trust; RSPB; National Trust
Ideal day out: Epic ridge walk

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Hewitts: 234
Islands: 2

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