Fresh sea air, beautiful views, great countryside and of course some seriously good beer!
The coastal footpath runs along the north Norfolk coast from Hunstanton to Cromer and links in with many other walks along the way. Approximately every couple of miles there is a pub, some better than others, some famous for their food, some for their beer and some for both. Here is a walking tour for a couple of days taking in some of the best along the route.
Start from Burnham Deepdale and take the coastal footpath West towards Hunstanton. For good walkers, Hunstanton is easily reachable in a day, for those more interested in the pubs then it’ll take a lot longer.
Follow the footpath along the front of Burnham Deepdale and Brancaster Staithe, passing mussel beds, some very expensive houses and salt marsh. When you reach the cockle sheds of Brancaster Staithe you have your first stop, unless its too early. The Jolly Sailors is at the top of the track and it brews its own beer, a traditional Indian Pale Ale (IPA) and a stronger brew called Old Les (named after an old character of the village). They also usually have an excellent guest beer and in the winter the seafood, especially the mussels in white wine sauce are superb. You may like to save this for the evening when you’ve finished your walk, as right now you’ve walked less than a mile.
To rejoin the walk go back down the track and turn left, which takes you past the sailing club. Cross the lane and walk down the little path, which takes you onto a board walk, with reed beds and salt marsh on your right. This path takes you into Brancaster, where you turn left up the road and then first right down the lane which takes you to the next part of the footpath. You can choose to visit Brancaster Beach at this point or head slightly inland to follow the path to Titchwell. If you follow the path to Titchwell, there is the Titchwell Manor there, which has excellent food, but the next beer goal is to continue to Thornham. The path is inland of Titchwell giving superb views across the saltmarshes and beaches of this stretch of coast.
In Thornham there are three good eating places, The Lifeboat Inn (an old smugglers pub to the West of the village), The Orange Tree and the Old Coach House, which are both in the centre of the village. If its beer you want then the Lifeboat is your goal. They still have old gas lamps in the bar and like many pubs will have a roaring wood fire during the winter. Menu items include excellent burgers and racks of ribs with a range of seafood.
The walk from Thornham takes you to Holme-next-the-Sea. This section of the walk is along the beach. Its hard going, but wonderful to see and well worth the effort. We would recommend the end of your walk is in Holme, where the White Horse offers an excellent range of beers and food. You can catch the Coasthopper bus back to Burnham Deepdale from Holme.
Head East on the coastal footpath, along the seawall to Burnham Overy Staithe. You’ll pass saltmarshes, the start of the Holkham Nature Reserve and the Burnham Overy Windmill. In Burnham Overy Staithe there is a pub, which is improving after many years of neglect as a brewery pub. The Staithe (harbour) is worth seeing, as it is very picturesque, with lovely old buildings and many sailing boats.
You now have two choices. For the walkers, the walk to Holkham continuing along the coastal footpath is well worth while, as you’ll walk on one of the best beaches in Britain, Holkham Beach which is still privately owned by the Holkham Estate. Your next pub is a good hour to two hours walk. The Victoria at Holkham is also well worth a visit, along with Holkham Hall.
For those more interested in pubs you can walk to Burnham Market, via Burnham Overy Town. Don’t be fooled by the name, there are only about 10 houses in the Town, with no shops or watering hole. In Burnham Market you have two good pubs for beer and both also offer food. You’ll also be able to buy sandwiches, sausage rolls and the like from various shops and the bakers in the centre of the village. The two pubs are the Lord Nelson, in the East of the village and the Hoste Arms on the green.
To return to Deepdale you can take the bus from the centre of Burnham Market or take one of the stewardship walks back through the fields. Alternatively you can carry on to the Lord Nelson in Burnham Thorpe, which is to the East. You may be wondering why the pubs are named after Admiral Lord Nelson, and the reason is he was born in Burnham Thorpe. There isn’t much to see there except for a blue plaque, but the pub is well worth a visit. Until recently it didn’t have a bar, with all drinks served at your table by a slightly grumpy landlord. Now the staff are much friendlier and there is a bar. Watch out for Nelson’s blood, a deadly drink which has a relationship to rum somewhere along the line and they also have a range of Nelson beers which should definitely be tried. The bus doesn’t connect to Burnham Thorpe so if you drink too much you’ll have to invest in a taxi.
If you can still walk you will want to head back to Burnham Market to catch the bus or for the keen walkers keep walking East to the Holkham Estate. It’s a pretty long walk, but well worth it to walk through the walled estate past the Hall and down to Holkham village. You’ll get a chance to see the follies built by the Earls of Leicester and the deer in the park. The prize for the walk is the Victoria at Holkham on the main road in Holkham. It offers excellent beer and food, including pheasant and venison from the estate. There is also a tea room at the Hall and in the main village a café.
Most places mentioned are accessible by bus for those less keen to walk miles.
Buses don’t tend to run much after 5pm, sometimes earlier. You can catch taxis, but if you have decided to settle in at a pub for the evening it is worth booking a taxi early on, as if it’s a quiet night they may well go to bed and not be available.