It has a remarkably dry, temperate climate; it has more churches than anywhere else in the world; the royals spend their Christmases here; it’s home to a rare species of frog with a Norfolk accent and it plays host to the annual world snail championship: Norfolk is undeniably unique.
So where better to go in search of adventure? If it’s good enough for the royals…
Vast, open skies, a long and picturesque coast, peaceful Broads and nature in abundance, the opportunities for outdoor activities are unparalleled.
Walking in Norfolk
The county’s incredible landscape invites visitors to explore on foot, strolling along leafy lanes, ambling alongside open marshland, skipping barefoot along deserted beaches or seeking shade beneath aromatic pines. The clearly sign-posted Norfolk Coast Path is one of the most popular routes, taking in 47 miles of glorious seaside scenery from Hunstanton to Sea Palling. Don’t worry about retracing your steps, the Coasthopper bus provides a convenient service and there are plenty of pubs en-route where you can recharge your batteries.
Merging into the Norfolk Coast Path at Hunstanton is Peddars Way. Following the path of an old Roman road, it is an inland trail which wends its way through 46 miles of countryside from Knettishall to Holme-Next-The-Sea. Derived from the Latin ‘pedester’ which means ‘on foot’, nowadays much of the route can be enjoyed by cyclists and horse riders too. Choose a starting point and take in scenery which blends seamlessly from remote heathland into dappled woodland, past castle ruins and wildlife-rich countryside.
For even more treks and trails across Norfolk, take a look at our top walks in Norfolk.
Birdwatching and wildlife reserves
Bird spotting and wildlife watching is another popular past time in Norfolk, not least because it lies on one of the most important bird migration paths in the world. The best places to witness waders and wildfowl in their natural habitat is within the salt marshes at RSPB Snettisham. The reedbeds, salt marsh and freshwater lagoons of RSPB Titchwell Marsh are home to yet more intriguing species including avocets, bearded tits and marsh harriers.
Other notable locations for budding birdwatchers or seasoned twitchers are NWT Cley Marshes on the north coast, NWT Hickling Broad National Nature Reserve to the east and inland nature reserves such as Sculthorpe Moor and Pensthorpe Wildlife and Gardens. Thetford Forest, in the south of Norfolk, is a veritable haven for wildlife, where you’re not only likely to spot crossbills and night jars but also woodland creatures such as red deer, roe deer and small, stocky deer known as muntjacs.
If observing animals of the land and air isn’t of interest, perhaps seal watching is more to your taste. Common and grey seals bask in the sunshine at Hunstanton during the summer months, lounge around all year at Blakeney Point, accompanied by their pups in the winter, and can also be spotted at Horsey from November to the end of January. Boat trips can be arranged to watch them from the sea at Blakeney Point, where you also see oyster catchers and other sea birds - Beans Boat Trips offer daily boat trips where you have the chance to see this amazing wildlife up close.
Water sports in Norfolk
For more exhilarating sea-based adventures, sailing is Norfolk’s next trump card. Sailing clubs and schools pepper the coast at Morston, Blakeney, Brancaster Staithe, Snettisham and Hunstanton, offering sailing experiences for beginners to accomplished seafarers. RYA courses are available to teach the essentials of the sport and local yacht clubs are welcoming and accommodating to visitors looking to hire a boat or launch their own craft.
Rather be in the water than on it? While Norfolk isn’t your typical surfing destination, it does have a modest surf scene which centres on Cromer, with other options being East Runton, Gorleston, Sea Palling and Mundesley. Even if you’ve never tried it before, it’s fun to splash about in the waves under the instruction of a knowledgeable expert from one of the surf schools.
Trade the surfboard for a kayak and the North Sea for the Norfolk Broads and you’ll have the perfect recipe for yet another Norfolk adventure. The sleepy backwaters of the Broads National Park offer a network of scenic channels where you can glide along in a canoe or kayak, spotting kingfishers, bitterns and maybe even otters. Private boat hire is widely available on the Broads, or guided tours can enrich your experience with wildlife tips and trips to secret spots.
A round of golf
Back on dry land again, golf is another activity with which you can centre your holiday in this beautiful corner of East Anglia. The courses at Brancaster and Hunstanton are over 100 years old and the latter is rated as one of Britain and Ireland’s top 100 courses. Taking a swing as the sun sinks down over The Wash, it’s not hard to see how this links course has earnt its place on the list.
West Runton and Sheringham also boast spectacular sea views, while inland courses treat players to scenic countryside vistas.
Explore Norfolk's great outdoors
When the sun sets on your outdoor fun, there’s only one thing for it: relaxing in the comfort of one of our welcoming holiday cottages in Norfolk, planning the next day’s outing!