To make the most of the outdoors, there’s no better place to be than Norfolk. With miles of beautiful coastline and vast countryside to explore, you’ll have a hard time running out of things to do. From some traditional crabbing to discovering the Norfolk Broads, this county is the ideal place to get out and about. Here are some of the best things to do outdoors in Norfolk.
Crabbing (or gillying as it’s called in Norfolk) is a favourite pastime in the area. There are two popular techniques for crabbing. Traditionally, it involves a long line with bait on the end. Another technique is to use a netted platform on a line which stops them falling back into the water. Whichever way you decide to do it, remember to put the crabs back into the sea! Some of the best places for crabbing in Norfolk are Cromer, Blakeney and Wells-next-the-Sea. If you want to go for the tidal creeks, head to Titchwell, Brancaster Staithe or Burnham Overy Staithe.
Beachcombing and fossil hunting
Norfolk has 90 miles of coastline just waiting to be explored. If you’re a keen beachcomber, Norfolk’s beaches are the perfect place to be, especially in the north. You can go beachcombing at any time of the year, and there are a whole wealth of treasures to be discovered, from amber to fossils. There have been some pretty cool finds on the Norfolk shores, from early evidence of British human civilisation to the world’s largest mammoth skeleton remains. Some of the best places to go beachcombing and fossil hunting are West Runton, Hunstanton, Cromer and Sheringham. If you find something particularly interesting, take it to the Cromer Museum and they’ll identify it for you.
Watersports off the coast
One of the most exciting outdoor activities in Norfolk is watersports. Norfolk is an ideal place to enjoy a variety of watersports, from sailing and jet skiing to windsurfing. If you’re keen to have a go at surfing and windsurfing, the wide, open beaches and flat, shallow waters of Hunstanton make it one of the best places to go. There are several sailing clubs and schools in the area that cater to all levels. Kitesurfing is also popular, with spots like Heacham and Brancaster providing a beautiful backdrop to surf the waves.
Water sports on the Broads
For a more relaxed watersport, try canoeing, kayaking and paddleboarding on the Norfolk Broads. This National Park has over 125 miles of navigable lock-free waterways that meander through peaceful countryside and picturesque villages. It’s a great way to get up close with wildlife, as the Broads are teeming with wildlife like otters, great crested grebes and water voles. There are plenty of slipways and launching points dotted around the Broads. Salhouse Broad is one of the prettiest areas. Wroxham is another great area of the Broads, and you can either go upstream passing quiet countryside, or downstream to Salhouse Broad. Outney Meadow is another beautiful spot. With lush water meadows, clear waters and wonderful wildlife, it’s also a great place for beginners as there are no motor vehicles. To see rare species, head to Martham to spot swallowtail butterfly, marsh harrier, Norfolk hawker dragonfly, leopard reed moth and bittern.
Walking & Exploring
The Norfolk Trails network combines over 1,200 miles of walks and cycles. Boasting coast, country, fen and forest walks, the trails and routes around Norfolk offer something for all levels. Norfolk is home to the Norfolk Coast Path which runs for 84 miles through the dramatic landscape of the Norfolk Coast AONB. For something a little shorter, try the Blakeney Freshes Coastal Wildlife walk. Make your way round Blakeney Village and Blakeney Freshes and see how much wildlife you can spot. Another lovely coastal walk is the Blakeney Gramborough Hill walk. This circular walk takes you along heathland, on top of the coastal ridge and down onto the beach. It’s the best spot for elevated views of the coast. A fantastic walk further inland is the Wensum Way. This walk passes through picturesque villages, historic sites and beautiful landscapes that follow the River Wensum.
As Norfolk is quite flat, it’s very suitable for cycling. For a leisurely trail, try the Wells and Holkham Circuit. This runs for 10 miles in a loop from Wells-next-the-Sea. The Marriott’s Way between Norwich and Aylsham is another favourite as it’s traffic-free and you can stop off at different towns on the way. If you’re feeling up for a challenge, set off on the Norfolk Coastal Cycleway which stretches 59 miles from King’s Lynn to Great Yarmouth. Most of the trail runs through an AONB so you’ll be guaranteed dramatic views. If you’re more into off-road cycling, then try the Cromer to Felbrigg track. This 12 mile route has a mixture of hills and rocky landscape, perfect for more adventurous cyclists!
Norfolk is often dubbed the birdwatching capital of Britain. Its wealth of excellent nature reserves make it the perfect destination to birdwatch all year round. As well as favourites like kingfishers and barn owls, Norfolk is also home to some special species like marsh harriers, bitterns and stone curlews. Some great RSPB sites include Strumpshaw Fen, Berney Marshes & Breydon Water, Snettisham Nature Reserve and Titchwell Marsh Nature Reserve. The Norfolk Wildlife Trust also has sites at Cley Marshes, Foxley Wood and Hickling Broad National Nature Reserve.