Holkham Nature Reserve

Published: Monday 14th Jan 2019

Written by: Georgia Dawson

Holkham is a magical destination, no matter the time of year. Situated on the north-west Norfolk coast, just two miles from Wells-next-the-Sea and four miles from Burnham Overy Staithe, Holkham is an ideal location for exploring the beautiful Norfolk coast. The stunning, unspoilt stretch of golden sand, the wonderful, picturesque Holkham National Nature Reserve and the breath-taking Holkham Hall make the coastal village of Holkham so iconic. 

Holkham National Nature Reserve covers over 9,000 acres, stretching from Burnham Norton to Blakeney. With footpaths leading from the three main car parks, it is possible to explore most of this unspoilt landscape by foot or bicycle. Perfect for dog walkers, family explorers, bird watchers and nature lovers – the gorgeous Holkham Reserve can be enjoyed by all. The Nature Reserve consists of the muddy foreshore, picturesque dunes, colourful saltmarsh, dense pinewoods and open grazing marsh.


Holkham foreshore


Horse riding on Holkham beach


A long time ago, the tidal creeks along the north Norfolk coast were large enough to allow ships to load cargo from a staithe at Holkham village. The Vikings sailed up a creek through the saltmarshes during the first millennium and built a fort at a bleak, empty place they called Holkham (‘ship town’ in Danish). 

Years later, saltmarsh reclamation began and a range of embankments started to be created around the shoreline from 1639 onwards by the local landowners, including the Cokes of Holkham. By 1859, around 800 hectares of saltmarsh had been transformed to farmland. In the late 19th Century, the 3rd Earl of Leicester decided to plant pine trees along the dunes - this was done to protect the farmland from the sea and this went on to create the Holkham National Nature Reserve. Nowadays, the Nature Reserve is brimming with wildlife and plants.

In July 2017, the amazing Holkham Estate was awarded Approved Body Status under Section 35 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act. This made Holkham one of a select few privately-owned estates in England to hold this wonderful status which enables the estate to manage the Holkham National Nature Reserve. Up until this point, the Reserve had been managed by Natural England.


Holkham Estate

Brand new facility, The Lookout, has been recently opened at Lady Anne’s Drive, Holkham, for the 800,000 visitors annually to the Holkham National Nature Reserve and Beach. Perfectly situated, The Lookout offers spectacular views over the surrounding nature reserve. The eco-friendly, innovative Lookout Café is committed to reducing waste and aim to be free of single-use plastic. Holkham use 100% plant-based, compostable packaging where it is needed. The Lookout sell their very own ‘KeepCup’ with your first hot drink free. A brilliant 10% discount will be given to all customer using their ‘KeepCup’ or another reusable cup or flask. Disposable cups will also be available.

The 'lookout' building at the Holkham estate

A view from inside the 'lookout' building at the Holkham estate

Georgia Dawson
Georgia Dawson



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