Holkham and Wells coastal walk
PUBLISHED: 12:17 13 March 2017 | UPDATED: 12:17 13 March 2017
Peter James, of Norfolk Ramblers, takes us up to the coast for a walk at Holkham and Wells
1. From the Coast Hopper bus stop, turn to face the Edinburgh Inn and walk as far as the post office. Turn left by the post office along Bolts Close, passing the telephone exchange on your right, and continue down into Croft Yard to the quay. Turn left, follow the quay to Beach Road. Follow along the sea wall with the road and holiday park on your left; you are now on the Norfolk Coast Path which is marked with an oak leaf emblem. At the end of the sea wall turn left by the café following the path round the caravan park. The information board indicates that this is Wells Dell and one of the most famous birdwatching areas in England. The tall pines which dominate the area were introduced to stabilise the sand dunes. They, together with the broom and gorse undergrowth, are a haven for small birds.
2. On reaching a crossing of paths and a wooden finger post to your left, turn left along Lady Anne’s Drive towards Holkham. Sometimes there is a mobile café here, Hushwing Café, serving drinks, cake and sausage rolls, and this may be an opportune time to stop for refreshments. To the left cattle graze on the lush grass of the salt marsh whilst on the right ducks and geese enjoy the brackish pools. At the road you can, with the Victoria Inn in front of you, go straight ahead or left then right to the toilets and shops of Holkham. After the green past the shops, the path on the right takes you back to the main drive where you turn left to the main gates for Holkham Hall.
3. The pedestrian gate is in the left hand corner; pass through the gate and turn left then through another gate then follow the path to the East Lodge gate. Follow to the road where there is a footpath to the right along a gravel drive. Go left and right around farm buildings; there are three boats in the barn on your left, and follow the path to a crossing track. Turn left and continue along this track to the B1105.
4. Cross the road and turn left between the brick piers of a dismantled rail bridge. At the A149 turning turn right into Burnt Street, passing the fire station on the right and The Orchard Holiday Park on your left, cross the road at the school and speed limit sign and take the track between properties which soon narrows to a footpath going uphill. At the end of the path bear left along Plummer’s Hill to the area called Buttlands. Keep straight ahead passing a grassy area with a tree in the middle to the left. Pass the Crown Hotel on the right and carry on along the narrow lane ahead Chancery Lane. At the High Street, turn left you will then come to Station Street, the end of the walk.
Points of interest
A. Wells-next-the-Sea: One reason why it is has preserved its character is that it was, in the 18th century, nationally important as a producer of malt, supplying huge quantities of malt to the Dutch and then latterly to London breweries. The iconic maltings and granaries, now turned to new uses, make its working quay a fascinating place to visit, either to sit and eat, to watch the arrival of fishing vessels or gaze at the marsh wilderness beyond. An impressive feature of the harbour is the large granary building with its distinctive overhanging gantry. Built in 1903, the granary has now been turned into luxury flats with magnificent views of the harbour. There are nearby bird reserves but the rare terns and wading birds know no boundaries and can often be seen from the quay. You need to bring your binoculars! It is hard to believe that within living memory the marshes were full of sheep.
B. The beach at Holkham is one of the most unspoilt and beautiful stretches of sand in the country. Behind the shoreline lies a semi-circular basin, which, at very high tides, rapidly fills to form a spectacular shallow lagoon. Holkham Beach is also part of one of the largest National Nature Reserves in the country.
C. Holkham Park is only open to pedestrians and cyclists between 9am-4pm (from 10am on Tuesdays and Thursdays) January to end of March and 9am to 5pm April to September. If looking for a longer day out you could go further into the park; there are walking routes on their website www.holkham.co.uk/visiting/welcome