North Norfolk Coast
There are so many reasons to choose the stunning north Norfolk coast area for your holiday - and most of them will delight your four-legged friends as well! Wide, sandy beaches, open spaces, easy walking and a warm welcome almost everywhere make this a doggy heaven.
You'll find many pubs, restaurants, cafes and visitor attractions warmly welcome your canine buddies. They can join you for free on some of the popular seal-spotting boat trips from Morston, and on the "Coasthopper" buses that will drop you at the best places along this stretch of coast. On lead they are welcome at Walsingham Abbey Grounds, Aylsham Bure Railway, Alby Craft Gardens, Priory Maze & Gardens and the North Norfolk Poppy Line trains from Sheringham, to name but a few.
The main attraction, of course, is always going to be the famous unspoilt sandy beaches. Your dogs can run freely, roll in the sand and snaffle seaweed to their heart's content at most places, even in high summer. Only the main sunbathing areas immediately around some popular resorts have any restrictions (usually from May to October) so there's never a shortage of beach to explore together.
The four-mile stretch of unspoilt sands fringed by pine trees at Holkham is worth a special mention. Recently voted best beach in the UK in a survey of over 100 of the UK’s top travel editors and writers, it is restriction-free all year round. Here you can combine the delights of sand, sea and pine woods with a visit to the park at nearby Holkham Hall, where dogs are welcome (on leads, as there are deer roaming). Brancaster and Cley beaches, too, have no restrictions and their salt marshes, dunes and miles of soft white sands are top favourites with dogs and their owners. Wells, with pine woods and dunes, is equally lovely and here, just behind the pretty beach huts, the Beach Cafe has its own 'K9 club' well-equipped with water bowls for thirsty explorers. While you're in Wells, Gareth Hacon’s Photography studio is a dog-friendly gallery where you can take your K9 art connoisseur and browse to your heart’s content.
As an alternative to sand and sea, don't overlook the many miles of safe and quiet country paths, woodland and heath waiting to be explored. There are also wonderful country parks at Holt and Sheringham. Other must-dos include the beautiful stately home estates at Felbrigg, Houghton, Blickling and of course Holkham, all with their own unique and varied attractions.
If you want to up the pace with some serious walking, the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coastal path offers a challenging trek of up to 93 miles, though you can always opt for gentle strolls along just parts of it if you prefer! The route takes in fabulous scenery including a Roman road, low cliffs and the unique Brecks as well as sandy beaches and dunes.
Inland you'll find lovely villages and some charming market towns to explore. Look out for village fetes, farmers markets and other outdoor events all through the year.
The entire county of Norfolk is the perfect place to bring your well behaved four legged friend and the east coast area is no exception, in fact it could be considered the jewel in the crown for dogs, with 10 super sandy beaches to run about on to their hearts content. Some have restrictions during the summer months but the beaches at Happisburgh, Waxham, Winterton-on-Sea, Hemsby, Scratby and Caister-on-Sea are happy for dogs to run around all year long and with the tide out and the huge East Anglian skies above, it is a pretty impressive place to wander for humans too!
Inland the flat marshes and network of waterways provide endless walks of interest that stretch for a short distance or many miles and whether legs are short or long, everyone can enjoy the varied landscapes. The Paston Way, which in total is 29.5 miles, runs from Cromer to North Walsham. It is a trail that links medieval church to medieval church and along the way ambles down quiet lanes, through picturesque villages, across vast arable fields and quiet grazing pastures with glimpses of the North Sea along the way. Or try the Weavers Way, which links the north Norfolk coast at Cromer to the east Norfolk coast at Great Yarmouth. If you’ve got the time and the dog has the stamina, 91 miles of walking will take you through a diverse landscape of woodland, mixed farmland, the historic country estates of Felbrigg and Blickling Hall owned by the National Trust, the disused railway lines of the Bittern Line Railway Ramble, riverside walks and the famous Norfolk Broads.
Lovely at any time of the year, Bacton Woods near North Walsham is a walkers’ paradise. Here you will find 280 acres of ancient woodland that dates back to Saxon times, where there are over 30 different species of trees and 2 oak trees that are over 200 years old. There is freedom to roam here for dogs, horses and cyclists and three different trails to follow. Further south, touching the edge of The Broads, there are lovely walks in and around the Georgian village of Martham - visit Taylors whilst you are there, unusually a fish and chip shop with a thatched roof! Stroll around Martham Broad a nature reserve of over 140 acres or try Horsey Mere, 100 acres of National Trust land and a wildfowl haven for migrating birds during the winter. From the Mere you can walk down to the coast and view the local sea colony, The Nelson Head pub will welcome both you and your 4-legged friend in to the bar on the way.
This part of the county is also rich in heritage and dogs on leads are welcome at a number of interesting historical sites. The Berney Arms Windmill situated near the top of Breydon Water is about 3 miles inland from Great Yarmouth and can be accessed only by foot or boat. It is one of Norfolk’s best and largest surviving mills that was still in use until the mid-20th Century. Burgh Castle also at Breydon Water is home to one of the best preserved Roman forts in the country and was built in the 3rd and 4th Centuries AD. Aside from the fort itself, the 90 acre site is rich in bird, animal and plant life and its peaceful and secluded position offers wonderful views westward over the rivers Yare and Waveney. The partial remains of a Roman Saxon shore fort can be explored at Caister-on-Sea and the Musuem of The Broads at Sutton Staithe is well worth a visit.
After all this walking, a welcome pit stop would probably be a good idea and you will find that many of east Norfolk’s shops, cafés and pubs are very dog friendly, providing water bowls to keep a dog as happy as its owner. Local pubs that will welcome dogs in the bar area can be found at The Ship at Mundesley, The Hill House at Happisburgh, Reefs Bar at Sea Palling, The Fisherman’s Return at Winterton-on-Sea and The White Horse at Overstrand, all great places to wind down after a great walk and a happy place for 4 legs and a waggy tail to come to rest.
If you and the dog want to go walking, you couldn’t have picked a better place than the Royal West Coast. There are some brilliant walks that will immerse you in nature, great coastal stretches for beach runs and a paddle, riverside rambles and hidden country lanes for a quiet stroll.
In this part of the county the beaches are vast (tide willing), sandy and just a great place for the dog to run out all that energy! The beaches at Heacham, Old Hunstanton, Thornham and Holme-next-the-Sea are happy to see dogs all year round but be aware of the birds nesting in the dunes in spring and early summer. If you are visiting the RSPB Reserves at Titchwell or Snettisham you are welcome to bring the dog on a lead and at Brancaster and Hunstanton there are summer restrictions in place on parts of the beach but by no means all.
Walk some of the Norfolk Coast Path that stretches from Hunstanton to Cromer and pass through sandy beaches with dunes, salt and fresh water marshes, quaint harbours and coastal villages, all set under immense Norfolk skies. The Coasthopper Bus service is also handy to get you where you need to be if you want to leave the car behind and will happily accept dogs on board. The route shadows the Norfolk Coast Path making it easy to access many of coastal trails in the region. Split your day with a walk in the morning and, if your dog has sea legs, a canoe outing in the afternoon! Canoes can be hired in Brancaster Staithe and will allow you to see the coast and its creeks from a quieter and more retrospective point of view. Dogs are also welcome on the sea trips to visit the seal colony at Blakeney Point a little further down the coast, doggie paddling not required!
If you prefer a quieter pace of life, many of our inland walks offer peace and tranquillity amongst woods and open farmland, set back from the coast. Try the Snettisham Woodland Walk a 2.6 mile walk through Lodge Plantation with far reaching views of the Wash from the edge of the wood. Or take a round robin walk from Snettisham to Sedgeford, this 6 mile walk will take you along rural footpaths, undulating farm tracks and quiet country roads.
The Burnhams Circular Walk is part of the Norfolk Trails series; starting in Burnham Market it takes in two of the other Burnhams – Burnham Overy Staithe and Burnham Norton via gentle undulating countryside that has the River Burn at its centre. On the way see the remains of St Mary’s Carmelite Friary and the medieval church of St Mary at Burnham Norton, a large church for a small community! After 4.5 miles finish back in Burnham Market and take some rest at The Hoste, who will happily welcome dogs in the bar area.
Another great way for the family to enjoy walking the dog is to visit the Norfolk Treasure Trails website, here you will find self-guided walks based around a Spy Mission, Treasure Trail or Murder Mystery theme. Pointing out interesting sights along the way, these are enjoyable walks for all ages and abilities, dog or human and there are over half a dozen set in West Norfolk. Of course, don’t forget the great parks of Sandringham and Houghton Hall, the National Nature Reserve at Dersingham Bog, Shouldham Warren with its woodland walks on the edge of the Fens and a short set of circular walks in locations such as Terrington St Clements, Clenchwarton, Wimbotsham, Castle Acre, Harpley, and Ringstead.
Aside from walks of course, dogs love to be sociable so if you are here at the right time of the year, why not take them to see the Dog Agility Show at the Houghton International Horse Trials or the Hunstanton Dog Show both in May, or the Sandringham Country & Game Fair in September. Dogs can take part in such events as Aqua Sport, Agility, Musical Sits, Waggiest Tail and Best Pedigree at the various shows.
When the walking is all over and it is time to curl up around a winter fire or bask in the summer sun there are plenty of pubs that will welcome your dog in to the bar area; some of our favourites are The Lord Nelson at Burnham Thorpe, The White Horse at Brancaster, The Railyway Inn at Docking, The Ancient Mariner Inn at Hunstanton, the Kings Head at Bircham and The Ostrich at Castle Acre.
They say that every dog must have its day and if you go to The Orange Tree at Thornham, it’s probably guaranteed. Your dog, with a little help, can choose from the special canine menu, pigs ears in gravy, doggie sausage roll or bone with marrow – all washed down with a fresh bowl of water!