NORFOLK
National Geographic Traveller (UK)|June 2021
Tracing a golden thread against the North Sea, the salty shores of North Norfolk are an undisputed highlight of the English coastline. Wend your way east from the marshes of Brancaster, home to some of the country’s finest seafood, through the streets of Cley next the Sea and on to the town of Cromer, with its grand pier jutting out into the surf. And in between these picturesque pit stops is a gentle, serene landscape, where the wind and water have shaped the lives of locals for centuries
RICHARD JAMES TAYLOR

The village of Brancaster is synonymous with shellfish, particularly the mussels that thrive in the salt marshes along this stretch of coast. Many of the families farming these mussel beds have been doing so for generations, working with time and tide to nurture a prized variety known as the Norfolk Blue. They’re a firm fixture on local menus, including at The White Horse in Brancaster Staithe. The restaurant is known for its take on the classic dish moules marinière, served overlooking the salt marshes where the mussels were grown.

As the coastline threads eastwards, Blakeney edges into view. The village is the gateway to Blakeney National Nature Reserve, home to the largest grey seal colony in England. The salt marshes, shingle and sand dunes make the perfect breeding ground for the seals, who come ashore to calve between November and January. It’s possible to admire the creatures from a responsible distance by taking a boat trip with Beans Boats. The Bean family has been leading trips in this corner of the county since the 1930s.

On the banks of the River Glaven, Cley next the Sea is a picturesque cluster of flint cottages and narrow streets. Once one of the most important trading ports on the North Sea coast, the village is now best known for its 18th-century windmill and its much-loved kippers, smoked gently over oak by Glen Weston at the Cley Smokehouse.

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