Norfolk has 80 miles of coastline and, unlike other top tourist destinations like Devon and Cornwall, almost all of it is beach. Within a distance of between seven and twenty miles from Church Farm Barns can be found a variety of the finest of Norfolk's beaches. Our favourite ten are here.
Distance: 7.5 miles
7 miles away and our nearest beach.There is plenty of sand and it's a great place for small children; When you tire of the beach there are plenty of places to get cups of tea and ice creams - and Mary Jane's for fish and chips. A walk on the pier is a must. We love to go down to Cromer on wild days in winter to walk on the pier. Parking is not too difficult except in very high season when it's as well to get here early. Take the route from Church Farm Barns on the lanes through Sustead and Metton to come in the back way to the main car park - you'll avoid all the traffic.
Distance: 21 miles
Sea Palling is an interesting beach because it has a series of sandy bays formed by the artificial reefs built to protect the sea wall and dunes that stop the Broads from flooding. The reefs have become a favourite place for seals. The sandy bays make for very safe swimming and there are lifeguards present. Sea Palling has all the facilities you are likely to need. If you prefer a quieter spot go a mile or two further south-east to Waxham.
Distance: 10 miles
This is our favourite beach when we want to get to one quickly. There is a lay-by on the coast road just west of the village of Trimingham where you can park for free. From the lay-by a path leads across the fields and into a small wood on the cliff top. At the other side of the wood you can scramble down the cliff to the beach. This is not a place to go if you are infirm or have very small children. In the wet (when you are unlikely to be going to the beach) it can be very slippery. Even in August there will only be a handful of people on this beach. There are no facilities but if you like peace and quiet this is the one for you! Take care when bathing especially on falling tides because there are no lifeguards.
Distance: 16 miles
Happisburgh has a nice pub - the Hill House -, where after a drink you can walk through a little caravan site and down a staircase to the beach. But usually we go a little beyond Happisburgh to Cart Gap where there is a car park and easy access to the beach. It's similar to Sea Palling and a lovely spot for dig and paddle.
Distance: 9 miles
There is plenty of parking right behind the beach here. This beach is on the shingle bank that stretches from Weybourne to Blakeney Point. The bank shelves steeply and only strong swimmers should bathe here. I like it because I can be in deep water very quickly where all the sandy beaches tend to be very shallow. You can also get access to the shingle bank at Salthouse and at Cley.
Distance: 21 miles
This is my favourite beach in North Norfolk and well worth the effort of travelling the extra distance. Go via Fakenham and take the B road towards Wells. If you have an ordinance survey map with you (there's one in each of the cottages) you should be able to find the back way into Holkham park where you follow a two mile avenue with fabulous views at the end of it of Holkham Hall and the deer park. Carry on past the house and out of the main entrance. Go straight across the main road for the beach.
The beach is vast. At low tide you have to walk a mile to get to the sea. There are often horses being exercised on the sands and sometimes the household cavalry.
Distance: 19 miles
This is really the eastern end of Holkham beach. Wells is an interesting little port but very busy in the high season. Go through the town following the signs for the beach. There is plenty of parking. The main difference with Holkham is that it is busier and there are toilets and a cafe. The beach is vast and fabulous but the tide can come in very rapidly so do take care you don't get cut off.
Distance: 8.5 miles
Like Mundesley, Overstrand is a sleepy village with a quiet beach.
Distance: 8.5 miles
Like Cromer Sheringham is an old fishing village that developed into a resort when the railway arrived in late Victorian times. It has a lovely safe beach for small children and all the amenities of a resort town.
Distance: 11 miles
Another lovely sandy beach, perfect for small children and with amenities on hand.