Walk & Glamp the North Norfolk Coastal Path
Eat, Sleep, Walk, Repeat - 47 miles of beautiful coastline with MarGin Walking and Glamping. Possibly the best Muddy experience to date and it's right on our doorstep!
Walking the North Norfolk Coastal path has been on my to do list for quite some time and I was beyond excited when Gin (yes that is her name and fatefully my favourite drink) got in touch to tell me about MarGins Walking and Glamping Holidays.
Every detail is taken care of from the safari tent accommodation and luggage transfer to the breakfast hamper and ear plugs for a good nights sleep. All we needed to do was put one foot in front of the other and of course find some great places to eat and drink along the way.
I love Norfolk and this is possibly the best way to see our diverse and beautiful coastline. I’ve visited many of the beaches en route but travelling by foot allows you to see some of the great stretches of beauty which lie between the popular seaside towns. From cliffs and salt marshes to fields and woodland, this is a wonderful opportunity to escape life’s stresses and simply breathe.
Luckily for us local folk, MarGin is the only business of its kind in England, offering a range of walks along the North Norfolk coastal path which vary in distance staying in comfy tent accommodation along the way. Their information pack is incredibly comprehensive with easy to follow instructions, the coastal path is also well marked along the way, plus some lovely recommendations for things to do and visit.
We opted for ‘Curlew Plus’ giving us five days to walk 47 miles between Hunstanton and Cromer. Apart from a bit of calf burn on the first night, we soon settled into a nice walking pace taking approximately six hours a day to cover distances between 9 – 13 miles. Mr O insisted on a couple of Woodfordes Wherry stops which took us off route but argued his case particularly well – “that it’s good to stay hydrated!”
I loved arriving at a different campsite each afternoon and seeing our little home for the night ‘Samphire’ ready and waiting. All we needed to do was crack open a gin and collapse.
The ‘glamping’ element comes in the form of a sturdy Australian safari tent – complete with comfy camp beds, duvets, towels and hot water bottles just in case it gets chilly. The kitchen area had a one ring burner, electric fridge box, cutlery/utensils, lanterns and chairs plus daily flowers. The devil is in the detail, from the breakfast hamper with produce guide (and nutritional value) to the little bedside cabinet with everything you need including a mirror and hand sanitiser to local interest books and incense burner, nothing was missed. Plus there were a host of things that you might just need but wouldn’t think to pack – an umbrella, pegs, batteries, shopping bag. Gin is truly the magical tent elf!
On a quick side note – Gin checks in with you every afternoon which we found really reassuring and particularly great if you decide to take on a solo mission.
I can honestly say, this was one of the best holidays I’ve been on and we relaxed much more than a week lying on a sun lounger. I found the rhythmic pattern to the day very cathartic. Simply walking from A to B, with long stretches of peace and quiet, huge skies to get lost in and eating what you want (because you’ve walked 30,000 steps) before collapsing into a deep exhausted sleep by 9pm!
We stayed at the very lovely Briarfields Hotel in Titchwell the night before which meant we could leave the car in their car park for the duration of the walk. MarGins provide a list of hotels and B&B’s they work with, or alternatively you can park in Hunstanton with a Rover ticket for £20.40 for the whole week!
Upon finishing the walk in Cromer you can get the Coastal Hopper bus back to Hunstanton. Or, if you fancy treating yourself – stay the night at The Grove Hotel which allows you the option of leaving a second car in their car park (this obviously means you have to drop the car off first, which we did en route to Titchwell).
Day 1: Hunstanton to Burnham Deepdale – 13 miles – 6 hours – 2 pub stops, 2 cafe stops
The sun was shining, map and guide in hand – we were ready for our adventure.
We started our walk along the cliff tops and past the Old Hunstanton light house, which by the way is a great quirky holiday rental and listed in our Little Black Book.
Past the higgedly piggedly coloured beach huts and to our first refreshment stop for the day – the Muddy Award winning Cafe – The Old Town Beach Cafe.
From the outside this beachside shack café is rather unassuming but step inside and you’re met with an explosion of colourful prints from local artist Jacky Hutson, a dedicated doggy wall of fame and a good hearty menu including vegan options. The traditional seaside decor, buckets & spades and chilled community vibe is a little nostalgic and well worth the visit for a trip down memory lane.
Onwards through the NWT Nature Reserve at Holme-next-the-Sea and a second stop at the Nature Reserve’s cafe for what Mr O exclaimed to be the best coffee this side of Italy!
The flood bank path offers amazing views over the dunes, marshes, estuaries and sandy beaches and takes you into the pretty village of Thornham. Home to three pubs – The Lifeboat, The Chequers Inn and my pub of choice, The Orange Tree where we devoured chunky prawn sandwiches and a couple of cold lager shandys. If you fancy grabbing something on the go – you can take a short detour to our Muddy Award winning Thornham Deli with its impressive deli counter – I recommend the Thai sausage rolls.
We then headed inland as we skirted Titchwell RSPB Nature Reserve. Our first hill (there are a few despite Norfolk being notoriously flat) but a nice diversion into woodland and across farmland with beautiful views back towards the sea.
A quick descent into Brancaster Staithe and an easy boardwalk along the marshes taking in Branodunum Roman Fort and the new Brancaster Sailing Club (members only grrrr) into Burnham Deepdale. At this point I had a huge house envy as we passed some beautiful properties with balconies, double height windows and lawns stretching down to the marshes and beaches beyond. One day – I could only dream!
Another cheeky refreshment stop at one of my favourite coastal pubs, The White Horse in Brancaster Staithe (full Muddy review here). A great place to rest our muddy feet and take in the spectacular views of Scolt Head Island (boat trips available to pre book) & enjoy the delicious aromas from the onsite Staithe Smoke House.
Finally on to Deepdale Backpackers and Campsite – a fab little site with 85 pitches and first class facilities. Top tip – book early and ask for one of the jumbo pitches in the back field with uninterrupted views of the surrounding countryside.
During the summer they have visiting street food trucks and we were lucky enough to sample the delights of The Duck Truck for dinner. The site also has a great programme of music and events across the year including the upcoming Deepdale Festival 26-29th September.
Next door is Dalegate Market with cafe, craft shops, gallery and a Fat Face. The garage/supermarket is worthy of note – a wide selection of fresh food, deli and at least 15 variations of quality gin behind the counter!
We were welcomed by Gin and Mark with homemade elderflower fizz, cake and a quick guide to the tent. Plus a rather handy leaflet on useful cool down stretches to soothe our tight calves, which I dutifully carried out before promptly soaking my feet in a washing up bowl of cold water – ahhh!
Any grand ideas of walking to The Jolly Sailors in Brancaster were cast aside as we were in bed by 8.30pm exhausted but happy and content.
Day 2: Burnham Deepdale to Wells-next-the-sea – 11 miles – 6 hours – 2 pubs stops, 1 cafe stop
We woke to beautiful sunshine and excitedly checked out the breakfast hamper. Homemade bread, free range eggs and lots more lovely local produce to set us up for the day.
A short walk through the marshes and in a moment of madness (kids don’t try this at home) I decided to take a short cut along the harbour estuary into Burnham Overy Staithe. Despite a couple of muddy moments and one thigh high water crossing (it was sunny and we dried off) – I felt like a child again as we traversed the creeks, before following a samphire picker to safety – phew!
This pretty little harbour village is definitely more of a locals hideout with the clue being the abundance of small sail boats and canoes which make the long walk/paddle up the estuary to the beach much easier. The coastal path took on a yellow brick road feel as we walked to the dunes and dropped down onto miles of deserted beach.
Muddy tip – pack a swimsuit! We stupidly forgot, however there is a naturist stretch to Holkham Beach and with the restraints of city life lifted and no one to blind, we decided to throw caution to the wind.
Clothes on, we chose to avoid the beach day trippers and head into the pine forest for the short walk to St Anne’s Drive at Holkham. The estate itself is a good 30 minute walk and best saved for another day when you can fully enjoy The Victoria Inn, play areas, zip wires, boating lake and of course the stunning Holkham Hall itself. Luckily for us the ‘Look Out’ beach Cafe opened this summer and with its beautiful modern architecture and sustainable ethos, it’s a great place to enjoy a natural juice.
Back on the coastal path through the pine forest all the way to Wells beach cafe and the start of a mile long flood bank walk into the harbour. A particularly windy stretch, this was the first time I’ve ever walked it as I usually jump on the little mini train which runs between the harbour and beach.
Wells-next-the-Sea was very buzzy when we visited, partly due to the carnival which runs for a week in July but also it’s a popular place for locals and tourists to hang out crabbing over the harbour wall.
We had a drink on the Albatross – a former dutch cargo ship permanently moored in the harbour. It’s a bit sticky and for novelty purposes an ok stop but we downed our pints quickly and headed to The Globe Inn. A warm and friendly pub with gorgeous bedrooms designed by Salt Interiors and a mouth watering menu. So good we returned later that evening for dinner and were lucky enough to bag one of the cosy nook rooms for a private dine experience.
Last mile to Blue Skies Campsite, situated just off the main coastal road. A small family site with lots of rustic charm. Our address for the night was 3 Bunny Hill – a pitch with four other tents and away from the main field with central play area. Hot shower, chair in the sun, gin, relax – another day done and smiles all round.
Day 3: Wells-next-the-Sea to Blakeney – 9 miles – 3 hours – 1 cafe stop, 1 pub stop
Waterproofs on, hoods up and headphones in. The weather had turned and we walked in the rain along the salt marshes passing Stiffkey (pronounced Stewkey) to Morston Quay. Incredibly atmospheric with sweeping seascapes and moody marshland set off by the tinkling boat masts and Einaudi in my ear. Boat trips can be booked from here to see the seals.
Quick hot chocolate stop at the National Trust refreshment hut before heading off to Blakeney. We arrived before midday, a little wet, and took the opportunity to warm up in The White Horse before continuing to our campsite – a mile up the road at Galley Hill Farm Camping.
The campsite was the most basic of the bunch – a field and a portacabin with washing facilities. Little Samphire was our haven and with much relief we grabbed a hot shower and collapsed for a few hours of rest before heading back into the village for dinner.
Voted by The Sunday Times as one of the best places to live in the East of England, Blakeney is a typical Norfolk village with lots of flint cottages and winding lanes with galleries, cafes and gift shops to explore.
The sun came out (four seasons in one day) and it was the annual Regatta so we got to witness the hilarious slippery pole event. No health and safety here – just a slippery pole over the harbour’s edge and people of all ages attempting to walk/run along it before falling into the water below.
The Adnams owned White Horse was my pub of choice and we tucked into a delicious three course meal and a bottle of red which warmed me up rather nicely. The food was fantastic, pub grub done incredibly well and definitely a posh fish ‘n’ chip night for me.
We walked a little light headed to our cosy little tent which welcomed us with twinkling fairy lights and a warm bed.
Day 4: Blakeney to Beeston Regis – 12.5 miles (plus 1 mile extra for 2 pub stops), 1 cafe stop, 1 chippy stop
Back on the coastal path bright and early – we decided to skip breakfast and instead ate brunch at Artemis Coffee Shop in Cley-next-the-Sea. I love this little cafe, the views over the salt marshes are stunning plus there’s a barn filled with great antiques and homeware too. The menu is a little quirky – Mr O opted for the Jewish dish – Shakshuka, eggs poached in spicy peppers and tomatoes.
Onwards to perhaps the most physically challenging part of the walk. Five miles along the shingle beach between Cley and Weybourne or you do have the option of halving this distance by walking along the coastal road path. To be honest, it’s not the A11 and with both of us suffering from knee injuries, we took the easier option. If you have the time, this also allows you to pop into Salthouse for a cheeky stop at the Dun Cow or Cookies Crab Shop.
We pressed on, as I secretly wanted to go to The Ship in Weybourne as it’s famed for its selection of 150 gin varieties.
I won’t lie, the shingle is tough, slightly easier if you walk closer to the water and we were rewarded by having a seal pup cross our path and slither back into the sea.
This stretch takes you past The Muckleburgh Military Collection so don’t be alarmed when you see guns and tanks pointing out to sea.
The landscape starts to change as you walk up and over the cliffs, past Sheringham Golf Course, National Trust Sheringham Park and into Sheringham town itself. We were lucky enough to see the Poppy Line steam train running between Sheringham and Holt – a great ride but even better when seen at a distance puffing along with blue skies in the background. Think Railway Children!
Couldn’t resist a portion of chips in Sheringham and a pint at The Two Lifeboats. After miles of solitude, Sheringham felt a little overwhelming, so we pressed on over Beeston Bump and into our cliff top campsite at Beeston Regis Holiday Park.
Yet again, MarGins had secured an isolated spot away from the main throng of the site, with a picture perfect view of the village church. We’d decided to spend our last evening at the tent and pre-ordered the MarGin meat platter with a bottle of bubbles – both of which were delicious.
I was beginning to feel a little sad that our adventure was coming to an end.
Day 5: Beeston Regis to Cromer – 4 miles, 1 stop – the final destination
We woke to beautiful sunshine and sadly left our little tent for the final time. A short walk along the cliff path, past West Runton famed for the famous Mammoth skeleton find and into East Runton village. Home to Constantia Cottage Restaurant – a quirky little greek restaurant that’s been in this quaint village for 38 years and definitely on my Muddy hit list.
The walk into Cromer takes you along the promenade with great views of the pier. A traditional seaside town, Cromer is one of those places that shines in the summer, busy with families crabbing and enjoying the beach. Of course we can’t forget the famous Cromer Pier Show which has been going for 42 years and even made the Daily Mail’s top 100 ‘Must Do’ experiences!
We headed towards our final destination and took the secret path which takes you from the coastal path through the woods and into the grounds of the beautiful Georgian Grove hotel. Here our luggage was awaiting us along with Afternoon Tea and a much needed 45 minute holistic massage at The Massage Hut.
We’d done it – 47 miles, lots of great memories, fabulous food and interesting tan lines.
I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending MarGins, they made the whole trip so easy and enjoyable. The accommodation was superb and this is an experience I will never forget.
In fact we’re already planning to do the final bit of the Coastal path from Cromer to Hopton-on-Sea next year – watch this space!