Explore the footpaths and byways around Wells-next-the-Sea
Escape the crowds and enjoy some fresh air and exercise with a walk. Wells lies directly on the Norfolk Coast Path, an 85 mile signposted trail running from Hunstanton to Hopton-on-Sea. One of 15 National Trails, it’s a great way to experience the dramatic landscape of the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
There are routes and trails suitable for all ages and abilities throughout North Norfolk, including Peddars Way, Weaver’s Way and the Norfolk Coast Path.
Peddars Way follows a Roman road built along the line of an even older track between the Brecks in Suffolk and the coast at Holme-next-the-Sea. Weaver’s Way runs from Cromer to Great Yarmouth through woodland, farmland, disused railway lines and the Norfolk Broads.
The Norfolk Coast Path – shown in green on the map above – connects Hunstanton to Hopton-on-Sea, stretching 85 miles through picturesque seaside towns and villages, tidal saltmarshes, wide sandy beaches and scented pine woodlands.
The Norfolk Coast Path and Peddar’s Way are part of the National Trails – 15 long distance walking, cycling and horse riding routes extending for around 2,500 miles through the best landscapes in England and Wales.
You can read more about the trails on the National Trails website. Further information on the Norfolk Coast Path and other regional walks is provided by Norfolk County Council.
Running from west to east, the Norfolk Coast Path passes the villages of Brancaster and the Burnhams, behind the pinewoods adjoining Holkham and Wells Beaches, down the mile-long Beach Road, along the Quay, and off past the saltmarshes towards Stiffkey, Morston, Blakeney and Cley.
In addition to the main path, there are a number of shorter circular walks that explore the villages along the route. The circular walks closest to Wells are Brancaster Staithe, the Burnhams, Cockthorpe and Blakeney.
You can join and leave the path at any of the villages along the coast, using the Coasthopper and Coastliner bus services to ferry you between drop-off points.
Alternatively there are many connecting byways and footpaths inland, allowing you to create an unlimited number of circuits – all you need is a map (or portable GPS) and a spirit of adventure!
Two out of three people rescued by Wells lifeboat crew in 2020 were walkers cut off by the tide. To stay safe, make sure you return to dry beach sand or the dry land by the marshes 4 hours before high tide. Always carry a means of calling for help, ideally a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch.
Look out for local information boards showing the latest daily tide times, or ask a beach warden, car park attendant, or at the Harbour Office or Coastwatch Lookout. You can also download a tide app like Tides Near Me or My Tide Times (App Store / Google Play).
View the RNLI Guide to Water Safety for more information on staying safe by the water in the Wells and Holkham National Nature Reserve areas.
Holkham Hall provides seven waymarked routes for both walking and cycling, some shown in red on the map above. Visitors can explore the 3,000-acre grounds and take a closer look at some of the landmarks, including the monument to Coke of Norfolk, the Obelisk and the Great Barn. Download the route map here.
The routes vary from just over a mile up to six, and cover a mix of terrain, from woodland and grassland to gravel tracks and tarmac. Some paths are suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs, and others are more challenging.
A Nature Trail and Quiz follows the route around the lake and features 28 stops explaining interesting facts about the diversity of the flora and fauna in the Park, from dragonflies to barn owls.
The park is open every day except Christmas Day, 10am-5pm.
There is a £5 parking charge, redeemable on purchases of £30 or more in the gift shop.
More information is available from the Holkham Estate website.
There are many Portable GPS Devices available, and phone Apps, such as ViewRanger and Ordnance Survey’s OS Maps, that allow you to create, download and follow walking routes.
You can download the Norfolk Coast Path together with the four closest circular walks, the Wells and Holkham Circuit (part of the Norfolk Coast Cycleway that can also be walked) and two further local walking loops in GPX format below: