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Blakeney National Nature Reserve

©NTPL/Paul Wakefield

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The shingle spit of Blakeney Point in Norfolk was one of the first areas ever to be managed by The National Trust, and it has been in their protective care since 1912. Blakeney National Nature Reserve covers vast areas of saltmarshes, sand dunes, mud flats and beaches, but what draws most visitors to the reserve are the colonies of seals.

This area is an important breeding ground and 'haul-out' site for common (harbour) and grey seals.

The common seals give birth to a single pup in June or July and then moult in August. Since the 1980s the grey seal population has boomed in the area. They give birth to their single white-coated pups in November and December. These seals, when
©NTPL/Joe Cornish
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full grown, can weigh more than five average men!

As well as being home to the seals, there are many sea-bird colonies of breeding and migrant birds. Terns, snow bunting, oystercatcher, lark, ringed plover and geese can all be spotted within Blakeney Nature Reserve.

Plants which flourish on Blakeney Point include marram grass, yellow stonecrop, thrift, sea campion, sea lavender and beautiful yellow horned poppies.

Blakeney Point was the first nature reserve in Norfolk and was provided by Charles Rothschild, a banker and keen nature lover who gave it to The National Trust. It has since become one of the largest reserves of undeveloped coastal habitat in Europe.

The first volunteers were known as "watchers" and they patrolled the area and protected rare birds even before the area was owned by the National Trust. The work of the wardens is very similar today.

In Victorian times, the collecting of birds' eggs and the practice of taxidermy was a popular gentleman's pastime, threatening many endangered species.

Any visit to Blakeney Nature Reserve should start at the Morston Quay Information Centre, near the Lifeboat House on Blakeney Point. It has invaluable information about the wildlife and history of the area. Although the reserve covers 1,097 hectares, the main area for wildlife is the 3.5 mile long
©NTPL/Joe Cornish
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shingle spit known as Blakeney Point.

The Lifeboat House is owned by the University College London who use it as a base for field studies. It was built in 1898 to replace the original lifeboat house, but after just a few years the shingle had built up so high that it was impossible to launch a boat from it - as you will see.

Close to the Information Centre is Morston Quay itself which is the start of the coastal path which runs across the saltmarshes. Boat trips are available from here for seal-viewing and bird-watching and the National Trust tea room is open during the main visitor season.

The Stiffkey Saltmarshes are riddled with tidal creeks and are favoured by wading birds and wildfowl, especially during the winter months. It is bordered by the North Norfolk Coastal Path but visitors should check local tide tables before planning a walk as it is difficult to access at high tide.

Further along the freshwater reedbeds provide excellent habitat for breeding ducks, geese and wading birds.

Blakeney Quay was once a working port but it is now the domain of sailing and pleasure boats. To the east of the quay is Friary Hills, an area given over to grass and scrub which has exceptional views along the coast.

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Car-free Travel Highlight:
Leave your car at home and hop on and off the 'Coasthopper' bus service which runs throughout the year.

By Foot:
The Norfolk Coast Path (or Peddars Way) runs from Hunstanton to Cromer. This path passes through Blakeney NNR, adjacent to the saltmarshes and villages at Stiffkey, Morston and Blakeney.

By Bike:
The Norfolk Coast Cycleway (National Cycle Network Route 30) runs parallel to the coast, from King's Lynn to Cromer. It travels along a network of quiet country roads, lanes and bridleways, passing within a mile of Blakeney. Cycle parking is available at Morston Quay, adjacent to the Information Centre.

By Bus:
Norfolk County Council's 'Coasthopper' service runs all year from Sheringham to Hunstanton, stopping close to Blakeney NNR at Cley, Blakeney, Morston and Stiffkey. Click here for timetables and more details.

By Train:
Sheringham 9 miles, linked to Blakeney NNR via the 'Coasthopper' bus service.

By Boat:
Blakeney Point is accessible by boat. Ferries (not NT) operate from Morston Quay throughout most of the year, although these are tide and weather dependent.

By Road:
The A149 coast road, Sheringham to Kings Lynn, runs just south of the full length of Blakeney NNR.

Car Parks:
Morston Quay
OS: TG007442, pay & display (NT members free), suitable for coaches

Blakeney Quay
OS: TG028442, pay & display (NT members free), Part NT

Stiffkey Greenway
OS: TF964439, free parking

Ordnance Survey Maps:
Explorer 251
Landranger 132/133

Blakeney National Nature Reserve Postcode for SatNav: NR25 7NW


+44 (0)1263 740 241 (General enquiries)

Norfolk Coast Office
Friary Farm
Cley Road, Blakeney
NR25 7NW

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