6 of Norfolk's best coastal walks and cafés
PUBLISHED: 12:40 10 August 2018 | UPDATED: 13:00 10 August 2018
A coastal walk is even better if you can stop off at a lovely café along the way
Around Cley (four miles)
Starting point: Artemis Coffee Shop (parking can be found around the village), West Cottage, New Road, Cley, NR25 7RA
Route: Walk from the café towards Cley Windmill, follow the track to the left of the windmill, and continue on as it becomes the Norfolk Coast Path. This will take you out of the village and towards the sea. The path links with a three-mile circular walk around the Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s Cley Marshes reserve. The marshes are beautiful whatever the time of year and are rich in birdlife – in the summer look out for avocets, spoonbills, numerous waders, bitterns, marsh harriers, bearded tits and teals. The walk takes you along the shingly beach before returning back through the marsh and up to the reserve’s visitor centre. Take time here to stop and take in the spectacular views before returning to the village.
The café: Before your walk, enjoy a delicious fruit or cheese scone, freshly baked every morning, and a locally roasted coffee at Artemis Coffee Shop and Home Antiques. Choose from a seat in the sheltered garden or perch on the terrace with stunning views right across the marshes and sea in the distance.
If you feel in need of refreshment during your walk, a stop at the café at the NWT’s eco-friendly visitor centre is a must. Sit on the large outside decking and soak up the unrivalled views, or if the weather is less than clement, take a seat at the counter inside by one of the enormous windows.
Wells to Holkham (five to seven miles)
Starting point: Wells beach car park, Beach Road, Wells, NR23 1DR
Route: Walk along the beach past the iconic beach huts and beyond until you reach the vast, tree-framed sands at Holkham and then return along the Norfolk Coast Path and through the beautiful, cool pine forest which makes this part of the coastline so special. The walk is approximately five miles, extending to seven if you walk through to Holkham Hall.
The café: The Beach Café at Wells is just a stone’s throw from the beach and is the perfect place to start or finish your walk. Focusing on fresh local produce, there is an excellent choice of light meals, ice creams and cakes. It also sells plenty of takeaway options, so you can buy your lunch or a cake to enjoy at a pretty spot along the way. Although there are not many seats inside, the outside courtyard is where everyone heads to, whatever the time of year.
At Holkham, make your way off the beach and up Lady Anne’s Way towards the estate entrance, cross the road and head towards the hall. The Courtyard Café on the estate has plenty of seating inside and out and a fantastic range of homemade cakes and freshly baked pastries.
Cromer to Overstrand (four miles)
Starting point: Runton Road car park, Cromer, NR27 9AU
Route: Simply follow the pathway all the way along the promenade and cliffs to Overstrand. Walk from the car park towards the pier along the pathway, making time to walk through to the pretty gardens along the way. Head down to the promenade until you reach the lifeboat slipway by the Henry Blogg Museum. Make your way up the hill and turn left at the top towards North Lodge Park and the boating lake. Follow the cliff top pathway towards the lighthouse through pretty heathland. There are plenty of benches along the way to appreciate the spectacular coastal views. The walk takes you through Royal Cromer Golf Club, so stick to the pathway and keep away from the edge of the cliffs. Once you arrive in Overstrand, either walk back the same way or, tides allowing, head down to the beach and walk along the sand back into Cromer.
The café: In recent times, Cromer has seen a number of excellent cafés open – but the tea rooms by the boating lake in North Lodge Park is a definite favourite. With tables outside, this sheltered spot is the perfect pace to soak up some summer sun away from the sea breeze. A community venture run by volunteers for the Friends of North Lodge, it sells excellent cakes and large pots of tea, all served on mismatched vintage crockery. If you have young children, you can relax while they play on the boating lake. At Overstrand, there is only one place to go, the longstanding Cliff Top Café. Selling home-cooked food, with views overlooking the sea, it is known for its hearty breakfasts, homemade cakes and speciality teas.
Happisburgh (three miles)
Starting point: Beach Road, Happisburgh, NR12 0PR
The route: Walk from the village down Beach Road, turn right on to the Norfolk Coast Path. From there it is simple; follow the path for about one mile to Cart Gap beach. When you have enjoyed a walk along the sand or dipped your toes in for a paddle, simply follow the path back.
The café: When you return, refuel with a burger at Burgers at the Beach, at the end of beach road, close to the sea. It is run by husband and wife team, Andrew and Jojo Smith. Their food is as local as possible. They serve three types of burgers - a crab burger, caught at the end of the road by a Happisburgh fisherman; the vegan and gluten-free lentil and walnut burger, and finally a locally sourced steak burger. They all serve locally-made cakes. Although it has no indoor seats, don’t let the weather put you off.
When you reach Cart Gap, the wonderful Smallsticks Café is perfectly positioned on farmland just a short stroll from the beach. Everything is freshly made and as local as possible - including crabs and lobsters straight from the boat at Cart Gap and eggs and potatoes from their farm.
Hunstanton (1.5 miles each way)
Starting point: Sea Lane, Old Hunstanton, PE36 6JN
The route: Walk down Sea Lane and head through the dunes and down to the beautiful sandy beach. Tide depending, you can walk all the way along the beach until you reach Hunstanton’s famous stripy cliffs. Take time to explore the rock pools along the way. Walk up on to the promenade and it will take you right into the main resort. If you fancy walking further, carry on along the prom to Heacham. Or take the path back up on to the cliff top and walk through the beautiful gardens.
The café: Before you embark on your walk, stop at the Old Boathouse Café on Sea Lane. With views over the sea from its garden, this café is a popular place for a hearty breakfast and its scones served with clotted cream are freshly baked every morning.
Hunstanton’s town centre has a huge choice of cafés. For coffee with a view, head to The Pavilion café off the green. It has its own ice cream bar with every flavour imaginable and also sells delicious hot waffles. The glass screen around its outdoor terrace means you can enjoy the views, while protected from those sea breezes.
Titchwell (two to three miles)
Starting point: Briarfields, Main Street, Titchwell, PE31 8BB
Route: This circular walk takes you to the RSPB reserve nearby. It is essential to check tide times before you go as the full walk can only be completed at low tide. Turn left out of the hotel and walk through the village, passing the church. Turn left into Gypsy Lane footpath towards the beach; once there, left and continue to the sea inlet. Don’t miss the pool at the end where you can sometimes spot seals. Either take the marsh path back to the hotel or, if the tide is okay, continue to the RSPB reserve. Cross the inlet at the shallowest point and continue along the beach, where you can see remains of tree stumps which once stood on dry land, and the remains of two tanks and a gunnery tower. Turn left at the boardwalk and follow it into the RSPB reserve. Enjoy the birdlife from the hides, before heading back out through the main entrance, turning left on to the A149 and back to the hotel.
The café: Indulge in a Briarfields’ posh afternoon tea or a coffee and slice of cake outside on the terrace with views across the marshes and beach. If you take the walk to the RSPB reserve, take a breather at its café. Sit outside in the courtyard next to the numerous bird feeders.