Blakeney Point coastal walk to Lifeboat House
Blakeney National Nature Reserve, Morston, NorfolkRoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
This walk follows Blakeney Point’s 4 mile-long (6.4km) shingle spit to the sand dunes, near the Lifeboat House. It's home to a variety of unusual plants and is an internationally important breeding ground for sea bird colonies. Keep an eye out for both grey and common seals along the way.
- Bus stop
Start: Cley beach, Norfolk Wildlife Trust car park, grid ref: TG048453
From the car park walk onto the shingle ridge towards the sea and turn left. If the tide is out, you can walk along the beach, which is a slightly easier surface to walk. The shingle ridge, which begins at Weybourne, is 8 miles (12km) long. and has grown westwards over time, forming Blakeney Point spit. Vegetated shingle is a rare habitat, home to scarce plants such as horned sea poppy, sea pea and shrubby sea blight. Please give any fenced areas a wide berth to minimise disturbance to nesting birds.
Sandwich terns nest on the end of the Point; some years it's home to a third of the breeding UK population. In spring and summer, they can often be seen flying with sand eels in their bills. Common, arctic and little terns also breed here.
After 1.5 miles (2.4km) you reach the Watch House, also known as Halfway House. It was built in the 19th century as a look-out for smugglers, then used by the coastguard and later the Girl Guides Association. It's now rented out as basic holiday accommodation. From here, continue along the beach for another mile.
Ringed plovers, oystercatchers and little terns make their simple, camouflaged nests on the shingle beach, making them vulnerable to disturbance and trampling, so please be aware of birds breeding on the beach. We fence the larger concentrations but birds nest all over the shingle beaches and dunes. Please help by keeping away from the fenced areas.
At the start of the main dunes walk onto the top of the ridge and turn left, away from the sea, along a track towards the blue Lifeboat House, keeping the main dunes on your right.
Towards the end of the Point, large sand dunes have formed. They've been colonised by marram grass, a species of grass with long roots that help to secure the dunes. There are great views of the whole reserve from the top of the boardwalk that crosses the main dunes. Four species of sea lavender can be found on the reserve and in the summer it forms purple carpets on the saltmarsh. The rare habitats of saltmarsh, shingle and sand dune host an array of unusual plant species, such as sea heath and glasswort.
To the right of the Lifeboat House is a boardwalk that leads to the beach. Follow this through the dunes and continue out onto the beach. At low tide from point 5 on the map, you may be able to spot the seals on the tidal sands to your left. Beyond this Point there is no access to the west further along the beach, to afford protection to breeding terns and seals hauled-out on the beach.
The iconic blue lifeboat house was built in 1898, and used for the purpose until 1924. It is now a visitor centre and also where the ranger team who look after the wildlife, live for a large part of the year. The building was refurbished in 2013, including installing former features such as the ramp, veranda and large doors. It was then subject to flooding associated with the tidal surge of 5 December 2013, where the flood level can be seen on the adjacent black Old Lifeboat House, a University College London laboratory.
From here, turn right and walk along the beach, with the sea on your left, returning all the way to Cley beach car park.
Common and grey seals can be seen bobbing in the sea or hauled out on the sands at low tide. During the spring and summer seals can only be viewed on the sands at the western end of the Point at low tide. Grey seal numbers on the Point increase in late autumn, which is the start of their breeding season. Common seals have their pups in the summer, although few pups are born at Blakeney, large numbers of adults are usually present in the summer.
End: Cley beach, Norfolk Wildlife Trust car park, grid ref: TG048453
In partnership with
- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Moderate
- Distance: 7 miles (11kms)
- Time: 3 hours
- OS Map: Landranger 133; Explorer 251
Much of the route is on soft shingle, which can be difficult to walk on. Not suitable for pushchairs. This route is possible at all states of the tide, except during extreme weather, but is an easier walk at low tide. Important areas for breeding birds and seals are fenced off and access is restricted, which includes the western end of the Point. Please follow the on-site signage. Due to the presence of ground-nesting birds, dogs are not permitted on this route from April to mid-August. For the rest of the year dogs are welcome on a lead or under close control.
- How to get here:
By foot: Coastal path runs 45 miles from Hunstanton to Cromer, passing Cley beach
By Bike: Norfolk Coast Cycleway (National Cycle Route 30) runs along quiet lanes from King’s Lynn to Cromer; it's a short detour to Cley beach
By bus: Norfolk Coasthopper, Sheringham to Hunstanton. Bus stops at top of Beach Road, Cley - it's a 1 mile (1.6km) walk along Beach Road to Cley
By train: Sheringham 8 miles (12km) east of Cley, then take Coasthopper bus to Cley
By car: A149 King’s Lynn to Cromer coast road; Cley beach car park is signposted ‘Beach’ from A149 on edge of Cley village
By boat/ferry: Seal trips run daily at high tide from Morston Quay and often land on Blakeney Point near the Lifeboat House for an hour
- Parking : Norfolk Wildlife Trust car park at Cley Beach.
- WC's : Toilets are available next to the Lifeboat House (open April to September).
- Food and drink : Nothing available on this route.
- Contact us