May's coastal treasure - Cley

Published: Wednesday 23rd May 2018

Written by: Georgia Dawson

Cley-next-the-sea is our coastal treasure for May.

Located on the beautiful North Norfolk Coast, Cley-next-the-sea is a former important trading port which nowadays boasts breath-taking coastal landscapes. The marsh area stretching between the wonderful village and the sea has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is ideal for a spot of bird watching. 

Tall wild grasses in the marshland of Cley


River running thorough the marshlands of Cley


The lovely beach at Cley-next-the-sea can be accessed either by car or by walking over the marshes, perfect for taking the dog for a walk, discovering the Norfolk coastline with the little ones or clearing your mind of day-to-day stresses. Feel the wind in your hair and the air filling up your lungs as you take a walk down to the sea. The beach is mainly shingle and boasts gorgeous views from either side.

It is the amazing 18th century windmill that graces the Cley-next-the-sea landscape, standing tall on the edge of the marshes. Cley Mill is а five story tower mill with а stage at the second floor and is an iconic landmark on the North Norfolk Coast. The mill was built in the early 19th century, when it was owned by the Farthing family. The mill stayed in the Farthing family until Dorothy Farthing, the owner, sadly passed away in 1875. Steven Barnabas Burroughs then bought the mill and lived and worked in it from 1840 - 1929, at which point it fell into disrepair.  It was bought by Sarah Maria Wilson in 1921 for £350 and she renovated the mill, removing most of the working parts. In 1934, the mill was inherited by Lt Col Hubert Blount. On 31st January 1953, the mill unfortunately got flooded by at least 8ft of water. In 1960, Norfolk County Council and the Pilgrim Trust both made grants for the sails to be replaced. More grants were received from the council in 1963 and 1971, which paid for the sales, fan-stage and galleries to be replaced in 1988. James Blunt, in his early years, spent time at the mill due to it being owned by his grandfather, and subsequently, this father.


Cley Windmill


What to do

Scattered with inviting tea shops, a wonderful country pub, the Made in Cley gallery and the Cley Smokehouse, Cley-next-the-sea is a beautiful place to visit this summertime.


The bright yellow 'Made in Cley' shopfront



Sign advertising the Cley Smokehouse


When visiting Cley, enjoy a walk around the circular coastal path through the salt marshes. Not only are the marshes a beautiful place to photograph (bring your camera!), they are also a fantastic location for bird watching so you may want to also bring along your binoculars. There are multiple hides between the road and the sea, ideal for bird watching. These bird-watching hides are free to use, providing you have paid for your permit at the Centre before you depart for your coastal walk.

After your 3 mile walk around the marshes, head to the Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Visitor Centre for a spot of lunch. The Visitor Centre is a fantastic place is you love bird watching, or just admiring the landscape. With large windows and viewing points, you can enjoy satisfying your taste buds and well as studying the activity of the local wildlife.


Patches of water in the Cley salt marshes



A view over the Cley salt marshes


Other wonderful places to enjoy some food in Cley-next-the-sea include the Artemis coffee shop and the George Hotel.

The large parish church of St Margaret stands in Cley-next-the-Sea, however far more inland. Although located in a very peaceful spot, it was not always this way; when it was built in the early 14th Century, the church would have looked over the busy harbor at Cley. 

SALT property spotlight in Cley

Our wonderful barn conversion Barn Drift is located in Cley. This grand property overlooks the sea and is placed on a private land just above the Cley salt marshes which has spectacular views over the beautiful Glaven Valley. From this stunning 18th Century barn you can also look out towards Blakeney point. Barn Drift sleeps 16 so is perfect for a large family break to the North Norfolk Coast, or perhaps a special occasion. You'll be living in luxury at Barn Drift, with five gorgeous en-suite bedrooms plus a further three bedrooms and three separate bathrooms/shower rooms. Every room is spectacularly presented and you can watch the ever changing big Norfolk skies from the kitchen with its expansive glazed windows and doors. 


Barn Drift Cottage in Cley



Open plan interior of the Barn Drift



Ages garden wall at the Barn Drift



View over fields from the Barn Drift



Cosy interior of the Barn Drift



Long table with 14 chairs in the garden at Barn Drift

Georgia Dawson
Georgia Dawson



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