Norfolk Coastal Path - Burnham Deepdale to Holkham via Burnham Overy Staithe - By Maggie Jennings
Starting at Burnham Deepdale, take the path opposite the garage, at the end turn right onto the coastal path, the left one goes to Brancaster, also lovely. This section between Burnham Deepdale, and Burnham Overy Staithe, is approximately 4 miles. It is called the coastal path, but in fact there are inlets and salt marshes, but not the sea at this point. Lots of birds, the odd windmill, sea lavender…but don’t expect the sea! This winding, meandering path, goes with the flow, therefore a lot of mileage, not getting very far….but lovely all the same. Eventually, at the end, keep left, and cross the field up to the road at Burnham Overy Staithe. Turn left and after a few hundred yards you have a choice, either to picnic overlooking the boats, or maybe lunch and a pint at the Hero Pub. Just opposite the pub, is a short road taking you down to the water.
Look to your right, and there, the well built up coastal path starts the next stretch of the walk. If you walk right to the end you will come to the sea, but a little back from that, a path leads down to the right over to the famous Dunes. If you keep the fence on your right in sight, you will not get lost, but this is a vast area of dunes, a bit like something from a lunar film set…quite magnificent. Ahead, and to the left are pines heading into the Holkham Estate, owned by Lord and Lady Leicester.
On leaving the Dunes, keep to the path, with the pine forest to your left, and fields and marshland to your right. In the distance you will see the land of Holkham Hall. This is very different to the first part of the walk, with wide even sunny paths, some stony bits, some grassy, in fact, not unlike walking in The Black Forest. Eventually, after a few miles, and after passing a Hide, with a boarded walk to the famous Holkham Beach, a junction appears. To the left another path to the famous beach. The film “Shakespeare in Love” was shot here, and indeed, it is a breath taking beach. Straight ahead is the new visitor centre, bird look outs, information, loos, and café. To the right is a long straight road, approximately a mile, called Lady Anne’s Drive. This takes you up to Holkham Hall, the Victoria Pub, and some shops. Also to the Coastal Hopper bus stop.
Pink Footed Geese These fly into this area from Iceland, together with other types of Geese, from November onwards. If you are lucky, and stand at the junction, near the visitor centre, around dusk, 4pm ish ( I was there early December), you may see them land. It’s an incredible sight! First of all, you hear them, a deafening sound of gabble!. The sky turns black as they may be in their thousands, then suddenly, they all land in the two fields either side of Lady Anne’s Drive. There is a deafening noise whilst they all chat to each other, and decide where they go next! Then, in groups of about 50, with a leader, they take off again in one direction or another. I like to think, they have been told where their B&B or Hotel is for the night!! (At this point I have to say, I have been back another year and only seen about 15 geese come in!)
It is worth keeping in mind that the Coastal Hopper bus service runs through Holkham. Some of the coastal Norfolk roads are narrow, so it is best to leave the car wherever you are staying, and use the Hopper. In the past year or so, it has had change of ownership, and now has two companies running it…..so look on the web site before travelling. Sometimes, you might have to change buses at Wells next the Sea, if your destination is serviced by the other owner!
Another reason to use The hopper, is that it is not so easy to do a circular walk. Coming inland, for some, is not as stunning as the coastal section, but if you use the Hopper, all the best bits can be enjoyed, with transport to and from the walks when you need it.
Approximately 8 -9 miles