Backpacking England's North Norfolk Coastal Path

Backpacking England's North Norfolk Coastal Path

norfolk coast trail

Holkham Woods

For those looking for easy hiking with beautiful views in England, the North Norfolk Coastal Path has 46 miles of trail to explore. This National Trail can be linked with another national trail: the Peddars Way which adds up to 92 miles of trail altogether.

norfolk coast trail

NNCP Map

This Coastal path makes a brilliant easy 3 day hike. You can wild camp or get accommodations along the route. It takes in some stunning (but VERY FLAT) scenery, and a lot of wildlife. I highly recommend taking a decent SLR camera with a couple of lenses rather than a lightweight compact for this short trip. I used an 18-55 for my trip.

The walk starts in Hunstanton on the West and finishes in Cromer in The East, going through several nature reserves and long beaches. I do this about once a year, just because it is so wonderful. It is just as fabulous in winter (except in driving rain).

norfolk coast trail

NNCP Map Start

To be honest I can only give a flavour of this here but my blog posts capture it all in pictures. Whether you love or hate it probably depends on your motive for walking. This trail isn't wild and it isn't isolated. It takes in small towns and villages and while it is never far from civilization,it is still abounding in the beauty of nature.

As to wild camping. This can be an issue in England. It is possible, but you must be discreet and get off the main path, but still avoid farmers land unless you ask permission to put up tent or bivvy for the night.It is possible to also do so in the dunes and the woods, but again don't be obvious, and if in doubt ask, or hide really If not wild camping, then lots of B&B's and other places to stay.

norfolk coast trail

Leaving Hunstanton

The walk takes a fine coastal track from the centre of Hunstanton, and is soon meandering out to Thornham, where there are some superb examples of the remains of old piers when Thornham was a busy port.

norfolk coast trail

Thornham Church

From Thornham the main path goes inland. A nicer alternative goes along the road but allows you to go left down into the Titchwell Sanctuary where there are fine photo opportunities.

norfolk coast trail

Titchwell Sanctuary

From here you head to Brancaster, and then via the coastal path to Burnham Norton and Burnham Ovary. Timing is everything here if you want to have a pub meal or a beer.

norfolk coast trail

Burnham Deepdale Harbour

A fine detour round through Deepdale Marsh will get you to Burnham Ovary, another pretty little port. And then it is off to walk the Dunes and onto the large spread of Holkham Beach. You can also walk out to Scolt Head Island, but not when the tide is in, and again make sure you know the tide patterns, because you do NOT want to get stuck out there. Even on Holkham beach, you need to take care here if the tide is coming in because it is easily possible to get cut off and that is NOT a good thing.You have choices of all along the beach, or go through Holkham Woods, and both are good.

norfolk coast trail

Heading onto Holkham Beach

norfolk coast trail

Holkham Beach Huts (very English)

A short walk by the old miniature railway will take you into Wells-Next-The-Sea. Many places to look at here and some good pubs. If you don't want to camp, there is the YHA which is a cheap option.

norfolk coast trail

Dusk in Wells Harbour

Leaving Wells, takes you out to Warham Greens and then Stiffkey Greens. Both part of the large wildfowl nature reserve, and can be rather wet underfoot if it has been raining.

norfolk coast trail

Warham Greens Salt Marshes

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Near Stiffkey Greens

norfolk coast trail

Stiffkey Greens

After Stiffkey, you head via the Salt Marshes to Blakeney. As with all this path, depending upon time, there are lots of opportunities to detour, especially out to the dunes, but as with Holkham, take real care, because the marshes can be treacherous.

Blakeney can be a bit of a tourist trap. You can decide whether to do the loop to Blakeney Eye or go via Wiveton hall and get a cup of tea in the Café. I did, because the next bit is a very long trudge along the shale beach from Cley Eye to Wyebourne. Navigation is simple, but it is hard work underfoot. Eventually you will get to the Sheringham Cliffs and some rather lovely views. You can stay in Sheringham or crack on towards Cromer continuing along the cliff tops.

norfolk coast trail

Neverending shale beach from Cley

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Looking back from the Sherringham Clifftop

It is a quaint short trip. It is rural, it is English, it isn't big hills, it isn't long distance, it isn't remote, it isn't hardcore.It is quite easy. It is very pretty, and it probably is quite different for many.But walking isn't only about wilderness and long trips. It is about the beauty and diversity of our planet.

This post was contributed by Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassador Andrew Walker

Great Hikes in the United Kingdom

Great Hikes in the United Kingdom

hiking in the UK

Thinking about taking a trip to the United Kingdom? Make sure to save some time for a good walk. Although relatively small I feel lucky to live in a very green and lovely island. Here are my suggestions for making the best of your time for hiking in the UK:

Having walked in the United Kingdom for over 30 years I would say the best months to visit are middle of May or September. The days are long enough for a good walk and sunset/sunrise times aren't too far apart to catch. The weather tends to be more settled and an added bonus is that the 'Scottish midge' has died off around these dates.

I'm lucky to live in South Lakes which is just a 30 minute drive from the Lake District in the Northwest of England, but have travelled the length and breadth of Scotland over 25 years peakbagging the fabled "Munros". Munro is the name given to a mountain in Scotland that is over 3000 feet in height .They are named after Sir Hugh Munro who collated the list for Scottish Mountain Club in 1890. Most believed there were only 30-40 peaks of that height, but there are 282 peaks over 3000 feet and including other hills over that height "tops" the real total comes in at around 523. I'm proud to say that in September 2013 I climbed my last Munro "Am Bodach" and became the 5348th person to register this completion.

hiking in the UK

The Lake District has rail and public transport links and lots of lovely hills. For a day walk I would first choose Hellvelyn, one of lake lands only four peaks over 3000 feet. This day hike is 10 miles long and gains 3400 feet of elevation. It typically takes 4-6 hours depending on your fitness.

The best approach is from Patterdale and approaches the hill from the east side by the "Hole in the wall" path! A nice steady climb on a big path once crossing the wall, the mighty Hellvelyn can been seen in all its glory joined back to where you stand by two ridges. You can view Striding edge on your left and Swirral edge on your right.

hiking in the UK

For most walkers these are fairly standard ridges. They are often narrow in places but a great hike on a fine day. On the way across striding edge (which can be bypassed by a much tamer path on the right) you reach a place called the "Bad step" nothing to worry about, it's a very short scramble of about 8 feet, my Labrador often jumps down, though I would rather he didn't! The last climb is straight in front and is soon over, putting you only a few minutes from the summit shelter and a vista covering the whole Lake District! On a clear day a view of the Pennines and even South Scotland can be seen. Just before the summit shelter, there is a nice plaque called the "Gouph"with a poem by Wordsworth about a dog who stayed with his master who had fallen near here, erected in 1890.

hiking in the UK

After a snack you walk 'round Hellvelyn to Swirral Edge: a steeper but much shorter ridge down again to the tarn and back to your ascent path back down to the valley. There are a few pubs and hotels in Patterdale village to stay, but for a great snack nip into the Post-office and have a Cumberland sausage baguette or the equally tasty bacon bun, highly recommended!

hiking in the UK

A longer walk taking 5 days is the Cumbria Way and starts just up the road at Ulverston, the birth place of Stan Laurel (One half of the famous Laurel and Hardy). The walk is easy to follow and a nice steady route to backpack having both hotels/campsites and if you stay high, lots of wild camping spots at the end of each day. Your Gossamer Gear rucksack will of course carry your gear with great ease. The Mariposa Lightweight Backpack is ideal for this trek.

hiking in the UK

I did this walk a few years ago with my 12 year old son who loved every minute of it, apart from a wet walk to Keswick on day 3 . It is around 75 miles and can be easily broken into 15 mile sections:

  • Section 1: Ulverston to Coniston (15 miles)
  • Section 2: Coniston to Langdale (12 miles)
  • Section 3: Langdale to Keswick (16 miles)
  • Section 4: Keswick to Caldbeck (16 miles)
  • Section 5: Caldbeck to the finish at Carisle (17 miles)

Both the start and finish are near to train stations. This trek has roughly 10,000 ft of ascent in all.

hiking in the UK

There are many more great places to visit in the United Kingdom, but these are some of my favorite hikes. Get out there!

This post was contributed by Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassador Peter Dixon, more commonly known as Munro277.