The beach for seal spotting and bird watching

Description

Few people visit Blakeney Point for the beach. If you’re in search of sand there are far more accessible beaches from Wells westward, and if pebbles are your bag, Cley and the beaches to the east are at your disposal.

Visitors to Blakeney come instead for the birds and the seals.

Blakeney Point is part of the Blakeney National Nature Reserve managed by the National Trust. A 4-mile spit of sand, shingle and mudflats that joins the mainland at Cley, the Point has been slowly extending to the west by the action of tides and storms.

You can read more about Blakeney Point Reserve on the National Trust website, or visit their information kiosk on Morston Quay. The reserve has been managed by the National Trust since 1912 and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest as well as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Blakeney is an internationally important habitat for resident and migratory birds, including sandwich, arctic, common and little terns, oyster catchers, avocets and ringed plovers.

But the star attractions are the common and grey seals, and Blakeney Point is home to England’s most successful breeding colony, with over 2,500 pups born annually.

There are two ways to visit Blakeney Point: by land or by water.

The National Trust provide details of the coastal walk from Cley Beach to Blakeney Point. Described as “leisurely but active” and of moderate difficulty, the walk takes 3 hours and covers 11.2km (7 mi).

From Cley Beach car park, the pebble beach continues west, and at high tide it’s a bit of a slog. At low tide the exposed firm sand is much quicker and easier to walk on. Increasingly shingle gives way to sand towards the western end of Blakeney Point.

Inland from the beach and set back in the dunes you’ll find the famous and iconic Old Lifeboat House – a big, blue, wooden building originally built in 1898, that’s now the National Trust visitor centre and home to National Trust rangers for several months of the year.

The far western end of Blakeney Point is roped off to protect the seals and nesting birds, and no access is permitted at any time.

If you’d rather not undertake the trek by foot, the alternative is a boat trip from Morston Quay. Four companies currently operate boat trips to see the seals, lasting between 1 and 2 hours, and booking ahead is strongly advised. Depending on the tides, some trips include drop-offs on the Point for an hour, allowing sufficient time to visit the Old Lifeboat House and walk from the landing point on the south side to the beach on the north.

Well behaved dogs are generally allowed on the boats provided they are kept on short leads at all times. The boats are not covered or enclosed – this provides the best seal viewing, but means you will be exposed to the elements, and trips may operate in all weather conditions except high winds, so wear sensible clothing.

If you want to see seal pups, the best times to visit are November, December and January for grey seals, and June, July and August for common seals.

Car Parking

For access by foot, the nearest car park is at Cley Beach.

Parking at the beach is free in winter, and to Norfolk Wildlife Trust members year-round.

During summer months there is a shed at the entrance to the car park which is attended during the day. There is a parking charge for non-members of the NWT, currently £3.00 for half a day.

Address: Beach Road, Cley next the Sea NR25 7RY

For access by boat, the nearest car park is at Morston Quay.

Parking is free for National Trust members, otherwise £4 per day.

Address: Quay Lane, Morston NR25 7DJ

Bus Services

For access by foot, the closest bus stop is at Cley Beach.

Cley Beach is served by the Coasthopper.

Nearest drop-off: Beach Road, Cley next the Sea.

Distance: 2.7km (1.7mi)

More info: Visiting By Bus,  www.sanderscoaches.com

For access by boat, the closest bus stop is on Morston Chase (A149).

Morston is served by the Coasthopper.

Nearest drop-off: The Street, Morston.

Distance: 0.4km (0.3mi)

More info: Visiting By Bus,  www.sanderscoaches.com

Facilities

There are toilets provided by the National Trust at the Old Lifeboat House Visitor Centre on Blakeney Point, however they are closed from October to April.

Dog Restrictions

There are dog restrictions in place on Blakeney Point from 1 April until 15 August each year with the beginning of the dog restriction zone marked with signs along the width of the beach.

If arriving by boat, dogs are welcome in the immediate area around the Lifeboat House but must be kept on a lead at all times.

The western end of Blakeney Point is closed to visitor access throughout the year.

The National Trust provide an information sheet with a map for dog walkers.

Lifeguards

No lifeguard service at any time of year.

Composition

Sand and shingle

Statistics

Length: 5.5km (3.4mi)

Key Features

  Parking at Cley Beach & Morston Quay
  Cley: 2.7km (1.7mi) Morston: 0.4km (0.3mi)
  Restrictions throughout the year
  Toilets at the Old Lifeboat House
  No ramps or access provision
  No refreshments
  No food
  No shopping
  No lifeguard services

Photo Gallery