Skip to content

Wildlife walks at Friary Hills and Blakeney Freshes

A view across the lush green scenery of Blakeney Freshes at Blakeney National Nature Reserve, Norfolk
A view across Blakeney Freshes | © National Trust Images/Ian Ward

Explore the scenic Friary Hills and Blakeney Freshes, home to important habitats and diverse wildlife that changes with the seasons.

Explore Friary Hills

To the east of Blakeney village is a small area called Friary Hills. Part of an old friary, the site is a mixture of grassland, trees and gorse and overlooks the Blakeney Freshes. It's family friendly and perfect for a picnic.

Birdwatching at Friary Hills

Friary Hills is known locally as being a great spot for birdwatching. This part of the coast is the first place that migrating birds flying in from the continent are able to stop and rest.

Hilltop views

Head to the top of the Friary Hills, where you'll find a couple of well placed benches. Pause to take in the panoramic views over Blakeney Freshes and beyond to Blakeney Point and harbour.

Discover Blakeney Freshes

Comprising approximately 160 hectares of freshwater grazing marsh, Blakeney Freshes is an important area for breeding birds and overwintering wildfowl. For this reason, it's a popular place for birdwatchers.

Some areas are closed for grazing but the National Trail Norfolk Coast Path goes around the perimeter and offers spectacular elevated views.

Wildlife watching at Blakeney Freshes

During the warmer months, Blakeney Freshes is an important area for ground-nesting birds. Species such as lapwing and avocet raise chicks in the surrounding fields.

It's also home to water voles and otters, so be sure to keep an ear out for the tell-tale 'plop' as they drop into the water in the ditches that criss-cross this site.

As the weather turns colder this expansive area becomes the feeding and roosting spot for the thousands of pink-footed and brent geese that migrate to this part of Norfolk.

Walking trails

Whether you're looking for a short meander or a longer stroll, Blakeney Freshes is perfect for a scenic walk. Take a short circular walk to Friary Hills, taking in three different habitats along the way. Or why not take a coastal walk through Blakeney village and around Blakeney Freshes? The 3-mile wheelchair-accessible route is fantastic for spotting wildlife.

Grey seals and a pup on the beach at Blakeney National Nature Reserve, Norfolk in winter

Discover more at Blakeney National Nature Reserve

Find out how to get to Blakeney National Nature Reserve, where to park, things to see and do and more.

You might also be interested in

Seal pup at Blakeney Point, Norfolk in winter

Caring for grey seals on Blakeney Point 

Find out about England’s largest grey seal colony, how we’ve changed the annual count due to ever-increasing numbers and why the seals call Blakeney Point home.

A small dog on the lead standing at the beach

Visiting Blakeney Point and Cley Beach with your dog 

Planning to bring your dog to Blakeney? Here's what you need to know, including how to protect the wildlife that call this special place home. Blakeney is a one pawprint rated place. 

Rangers monitoring grey seals on the beach at Blakeney National Nature Reserve, Norfolk in winter

Our work at Blakeney National Nature Reserve 

Learn about the work the team at Blakeney National Nature Reserve carries out to preserve this special place for both wildlife and visitors, from counting seals to fence repairs.

A black and white image of the downed Heinkel riddled by gunfire and partially submerged in water

The Second World War at Blakeney Point 

Discover how the wreckage of a Second World War German plane was unearthed at Blakeney Point.

Young grey seals on the beach at Horsey, Norfolk

Seal-spotting guidance 

Take a look at our guidelines for responsible seal spotting and top tips for seal watching.