A fun day out in Norfolk is definitely going to the coast, walking on a beautiful white sandy beach and then embarking on these wonderfully inhibited sea animals. This is nature up close and a very special experience.
In Norfolk you can find common (harbour) and grey seals and the majority have their home in a prime spot on Blakeney Point Nature Reserve. What is fascinating is that the common seals have their young between June and August, and the pups can swim almost immediately. While the grey seals breed between November and January and their young cannot swim until they have lost their first white coat. So they ‘hang out’ with their family on the beach for the first three to four weeks of their lives before they test the water.
This year (2016-2017), nearly 2,400 new pups have been born on Blakeney Point keeping its position as the largest colony of grey seals in England. The National Trust Norfolk Coast team monitors the seals there regularly so they can keep count of the colony and their well-being.
This is one of the best places to see grey seals from November to January when they come ashore to give birth. While it is a quiet beach during other months it can get very busy in the winter. So we highly recommend visiting the seals outside school holidays and weekends or arrive early. You can get close but please respect the mums and pups’ space so you don’t upset them. For tips and more information, check Friends of Horsey’s website.
The point is a shingle spit managed by the National Trust and is a top spot to see the common and grey seals any time during the year. Seal watching trips usually last for one hour and run daily from Morston and Blakeney on the high tide. Seals spend 90% of their time out of the water so it’s a great way to get good views of the seals without disturbing them.
Just next door from Horsey, this lesser known beach is a lovely place to see seals. If you have binoculars do bring them as you can spot several playing and swimming in the sea. What a joy! And of course enjoy the beautiful views from atop the dunes which is designated as a Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
During the warmer months of the year, Brancaster beach is a good spot to see seals being in their element in the water. They will enjoy playing and foraging in the sea and don’t be surprised if a seal pops up nearby to say hello (happened while I was swimming!). Any time of the year this long stretch of stunning beach is great for walks, dog walking and play (of course be mindful that dogs and seals are not best friends).
Horsey Gap has no facilities but there is a paid for car park (mind the potholes…).
Morston Quay has a car park with toilet cubicles. The National Trust has a great viewing tower plus there is a small kiosk with refreshments (check the website for opening times). And on most days there is a fish van with the catch of the day! You can also park here for boat trips to Blakeney Point.
Brancaster has a large car park, toilets and a kiosk. And is a short walk to the beach. The shop sells snacks, beach toys and mini boards.
There are no facilities at Waxham and you just park on the side of the road.
They go daily from Morston Staithe or Blakeney Quay. During the high season, trips go every two hours or even every hour. Check the company’s website for more details.