Norfolk Coast AONB

Winterton Dunes, Norfolk Coast AONB, England
Winterton Dunes, Norfolk Coast AONB ©

Norfolk Coast – Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is located in the county of Norfolk in the east of England. The area has been designated a AONB since 1968, the area covers 453 square kilometres, including over 90 kilometres of coastline. The area is well known for its marsh coastlands, rolling chalkland, scenic countryside incorporating a range of landscapes, woodland, biodiversity, wildlife and range of habitats.

The local population of approx 40,500 live mainly in small towns and villages located across the AONB. The area covered under the AONB designation on the Norfolk Coast covers an area close to King's Lynne in the east across the Norfolk coastline to Winterton in the west. The area is of national importance for nature conservation and includes of Sites of Scientific Interest (SSSI), National Character Areas, National Nature Reserves and Scheduled Monuments.

The key features and special qualities of the Norfolk Coast include the being one of the few remaining areas that includes a relatively undeveloped and unspoilt coastline, there are a variety of landscape character and there are a number of historical and archaeological sites. The area is rich in wildlife habitats making it a key nature conservation site, the areas geo-diversity is of national importance and the remoteness of the area giving rise to its peaceful and quiet atmosphere makes there area special.

The main industries in the AONB include agriculture, fishing and tourism. The area has established itself as a popular destination for visitors, it is popular for day trips and weekend breaks. There are a number of scenic villages and small towns located in the AONB including Hunstanton, Cromer, Burnham Norton and Brancaster. Main settlements located close by include the city of Norwich, King's Lynne, Great Yarmouth and Fakenham.

The area is popular for horse riding, sailing, wildlife watching, day trippers, walking and cycling with a range of routes and trails to explore. Visitors can enjoy the scenic landscapes, coastal scenery and the great outdoors.

Quick Facts

Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty:

Year of Designation: 1968

Population: 40,500 (approx)

Size in square kilometres: 455

Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs): 28

National Nature Reserves: 6

Scheduled Monuments: 59

Main Settlements close by: Norwich, King's Lynne, Great Yarmouth and Fakenham.

Located in: Norfolk.


The Norfolk Coast AONB is located the Norfolk in the east of England. The AONB offers visitors a scenic coastal retreat close to by to the main centre in the area Norwich, there are several landscapes and scenic coastal views for visitors to enjoy. The AONB with its small settlements, tranquillity and remoteness offers a contrast to the traffic and congestion of the towns and cities. The AONB area itself is relatively sparsely populated compared to the population centres in the surrounding areas. The area includes a number of historic coastal towns and small villages each with its own character and storey to tell.

The Norfolk Coast has a long history with a number of historic archaeological and historical sites for visitors to see, the area is of national importance for its landscape, ecology and geology. Within the actual AONB area there are no large cities or towns in common with several other AONBs, there are a number of smaller coastal towns, villages and settlements. Local towns and cities including Norwich, King's Lynne and Fakenham provide convenient places from which visitors can tour the Norfolk Coast AONB. The commercial development in the AONB area has been limited in order to protect the special qualities of the area ensuring visitors can see an unspoiled and still relatively undeveloped coastline.

The location in the east of England means the AONB is assessable from across the east of England and East Anglia area, Midlands and south of England. From Bristol and Bath Leeds the area is 30-40 minutes by car, from Exeter and much of Devon and Cornwall it is 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours 30 minutes by car, from Liverpool and Manchester it is 4 hours 30 minutes to 5 hours, from Birmingham it is approx 3 hours 30 minutes away. From Cambridge it is 2 hours to 2 hours 20 minutes by car and from London and much of southern England it is 3 to 4 hours away.

Tourist Information Centres and information points are located at various locations in and close by to the Norfolk Coast. The TICs are based in Cromer, Hunstanton, Wells-next-the-Sea, Holt, Deepdale and Waxham. There are also centres in Norwich, King's Lynne and Fakenham close by to the Norfolk Coast. The tourist information centres provide visitors with information, help, advice and tips on the AONB area and the surrounding areas in Norfolk. Each of the centres has knowledgeable staff that can provide useful local knowledge on local attractions, places of interest, things to see and do, along with local advice and tips. A visit to the tourist information centres provides a good first port of call for visitors helping to better plan and organise trips in and around the local area.

Local Accommodation includes a choice of historic and contemporary hotels, B & B’s, Guest Houses, Self Catering houses, holiday homes and cottages. Local accommodation is available in Hunstanton, Wells-next-the-Sea, Burnham Market, Sheringham, Cromer and Mundesley. Towns and cities located in the area including Norwich, King's Lynne and Great Yarmouth, provide good access to local facilities and accommodation from which to explore the AONB and the surrounding local areas in the east of England.

The Norfolk Coast AONB is a place where visitors can explore a number of small historic seaside coastal towns, villages and hamlets that retain their character and charm. History and tradition have been well preserved in many of the towns and villages in the area, benefiting from their unspoilt nature providing visitors with a fascinating insight in to local culture. There are a number of local attractions and places of interest for visitors to explore.

Local Towns & Villages include Beeston Regis, a village located 20 miles east of Fakenham. The village has a long history thought to go back to Roman times, once known as Beeston-next-the-Sea, the compact village is located close to the coastline. Local attractions include Beeston Priory, a former Augustinian Priory that is now in ruins, dating back to the 13th century. The Priory Maze is located close by, it includes a cafe and restaurant and a garden centre. Beeston Common includes over 60 acres of marsh, fen, grassland and heath, the area is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is an important habitat for wildlife including birds, mammals and insects.

Beeston Hill also known locally as Beeston Bump is a cliff top hill, it is 207 feet high and overlooks both the sea and the village. One of the most recognisable features in the area, it is part of the Cromer Ridge. Over the years Beeston Hill has been eroded by the sea however there have been efforts to slow this down with building sea walls and groynes.

Cromer is a coastal town located 22 miles east of Fakenham in Norfolk. The seaside town grew during the early part of the 19th century when the wealthy made it their summer home. The town is well known for the Cromer crab, there is fresh crab served in shops within the town. Local facilities include a number of independent shops and well known high street names, there is a theatre, cinema and several pubs and restaurants offering visitors with a choice of food and drink options.

Local attractions include Cromer Museum, housed inside a row of historic fisherman's cottages, the museum showcases the history of the seaside town taking in the archaeology, geology, the fishing community and seaside resort elements of the town. Inside there are displays, exhibitions, artefacts, picture galleries and photographs documenting the history of the town.

The Church of St Peter an St Paul dates back to the 14th century, enjoying a central location in the town, the church is known for its 160 feet church tower that is among the highest in Norfolk. Other notable features include the stained glass windows that commemorate features of the town and members of the lifeboat crew. The Cromer Carnival is an annual carnival event that includes a fancy dress and carnival queen competition and a parade of floats. Other events include tug of war, treasure hunts, quizzes, fun runs and carnival dinner.

The seaside town of Hunstanton is located 20 miles west of Fakenham in the west of the AONB. Back in the 19th century Hunstanton became a resort town and the town maintains its Victorian charm and character and remains a popular destination especially for families offering a range of traditional seaside attractions. Local seaside attractions include a promenade with amusement arcades, there is a fairground, seal sanctuary and aquarium. The town hosts regular markets on Wednesdays and Sundays where visitors can find a range of fresh fruit, vegetables and fish.

The town includes Victorian squares including Boston Square from which there are fine views looking over across the Wash to Boston in Lincolnshire, on clear days visitors may see the Boston Stump. The town is known for the scenic sunsets, striped cliffs of white chalk and red limestone.

Wells-next-the-Sea is located at 10 miles north of Fakenham. The town is actually located approx one mile from the sea, known locally as 'Wells' the town is one of the most scenic on the north Norfolk coast. Historically during Tudor times it was an important port that provided good access to the sea in eastern England, the town is still a commercially port. The town is well known for its narrow lanes that provide shelter from offshore winds, the location in the heart of the AONB area makes Wells a convenient base from which visitors can explore the area. Wells Harbour is close to some of the finest coastal habitats for wildlife in the UK.

Winterton-on-Sea is a coastal village located 50 miles east from Fakenham in the eastern boundary of the Norfolk Coast AONB. The historic fishing village is famous for its scenic sandy and unspoiled beach, the area is famed for its peace and tranquillity. Local attractions include the Holy Trinity and All Saints Church that dates back to the 16th century, the church includes a 125 foot high tower making it one of the highest in the county of Norfolk. The height of the tower offers great views of the surrounding areas and out to the North Sea.

Winterton Dunes National Nature Reserve is located approx 53 miles east of Fakenham. The National Nature Reserve (NNR) includes acidic dunes and heath that are of international importance for rare groups of animals and plants, in a habitat that is more commonly found in northern Europe than in the UK. The main habitats in the area include coastal sand dunes, freshwater pools and dune heath and slacks. Covering an area of 109 hectares the NNR includes rare and local species including dragonflies, sand wasps and a variety of butterflies. The spring and autumn is good for seeing migrating birds whilst the summer is good for spotting butterflies.

Norfolk Lavender is located 18 miles west of Fakenham in the AONB. It is home to the famous lavender gardens, the national lavender collection, herb garden and the lavender oil distillery. Visitors can take a tour and learn more about lavender, the tradition of growing lavender in Norfolk, seeing different varieties in the national collection and learn more about herbs and their uses in the herb garden.

A walk in the gardens founded back in 1932, offers visitors a great sight and scent covering close to 100 acres. The national collection of lavenders includes over 100 varieties of lavender, whilst the herb garden and plant centre include a wide range of plants and herbs including sage, rosemary, lemon balm, chocolate mint, French tarragon and many more.

Voewood House is located in High Kelling in Norfolk, 14 miles north east of Fakenham. Voewood House is an arts and craft house that dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. The impressive historic house includes three floors, the house is known for its striking architecture and decorations. Visitors can go on organised tours of the house and gardens that offers a fascinating insight in to the impressive house and its history. Highlights inside the house include the main hall, music room, dining room and library. The house can be hired for weddings, celebrations and events.

Walking offers visitors a great way to discover more in the AONB and the surrounding areas, there are a number of popular walks in the area for visitors to try. The Norfolk Coast includes a choice of landscapes and terrain, with a number of footpaths and bridleways offering both shorter and longer walks for walkers of all abilities. The walks include Explore More Walks exploring some lesser well known parts of the AONB. Norfolk County Council offers a range of Norfolk Health, Heritage and Biodiversity Walks covering areas such as Cromer and Sheringham visitors can discover more about the areas heritage and wildlife. National Trails include Peddars Way and the North West Coast Path that runs from Hunstanton to Cromer.

Cycling provides both a cost effective and environmentally friendly way to explore the Norfolk Coast AONB. There are a number of quiet country lanes and bridleways making the area suitable for cycling. There are a number of cycle routes in the area these include the Norfolk Coast Cycleway from King's Lynne to Great Yarmouth taking in a range of coastal landscapes and scenery. The majority of the Peddars Way National Trail can be cycled, the 93 mile route includes low cliffs, sandy beaches and great coastal scenery.

Visitors to the Norfolk Coast AONB in the east of England will find a scenic coastline that retains its charm and rural character known for its coastal marsh and dunes. There are a number of historic small local towns and charming villages to discover. The area boasts one of the finest heritage coasts in the UK and is known for its peace and tranquillity offering a great place to enjoy the great outdoors and outdoor pursuits.

How to Get There

Norfolk Coast AONB is accessible by both car and public transport.

By Car:

The city of Norwich is located between 15 to 40 miles from various areas of the AONB and provides a convenient located from which to explore the area with a choice of accommodation and local amenities. Located approx 120 miles from central London. From London, take the A11 then the A12. From the junction with the A406 take the A406 North Circular northbound. From the A406 junction 4 exit on to M11 motorway towards Stansted/Cambridge. Continue on the M11 until junction 9 and exit on to the A11 towards Norwich. Continue from the A11 to the A14 and at junction take the A11 towards Norwich. Follow the A11 that goes to Norwich. The approx journey time is 2 hours 20 minutes to 2 hours 50 minutes depending on traffic and time of day.

By Train:

The train station at Norwich has regular services from London Liverpool Street station. The journey time is approx 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours 5 minutes depending service and time of day. From Norwich there are train services available via the Bittern Line to Cromer and Sheringham on the Norfolk Coast, the journey time is approx 50 minutes to 1 hour depending on time of day, service and connections.

By Bus/Coach:

There are regular buses available from London Victoria Coach station to Norwich in Norfolk. The approx journey time is approx 3 hours to 3 hours 30 minutes depending on time of day, connections and traffic. From Norwich there are train services available to the Norfolk Coast via the Bittern Line. Coach services to Norwich are provided by services are provided by National Express

Coasthopper Bus Services offer services from King's Lynne to Cromer running along the Norfolk Coast covering Hunstanton, Burnham Market, Wells-next-the-Sea, Walsingham and Fakenham. Visitors can hop on and hop off offering a convenient way to see the Norfolk Coast via public transport. Bus services are provided by services are provided by Coasthopper

Contact Details

Norfolk Coast AONB
South Wing
Fakenham Fire Station
Norwich Road
NR21 8BB

Telephone: +44 (0)1328 850530

Website: Norfolk Coast AONB


For Local Search and Directions see: Norfolk Coast (AONB) Map

Tips & Other Considerations

The weather and climate can be unpredictable, there can be elements of all four seasons in one day. Ensure you check the weather forecast before you travel and have the correct clothing and footwear including comfortable walking shoes, fleece, raincoat and umbrella.

Follow travel advice and remain alert, vigilant and aware of your belongings at all times especially your wallet/purse and valuables and ensure they are hidden away from public view. If you have a bag try to use a shoulder bag with a good quality, strong strap, that is put across your shoulder not on your shoulder making it more difficult for anyone to take your bag.

If you are travelling by car to the Norfolk Coast AONB ensure you are well prepared with maps and Sat Nav to aid your journey, particularly if you are not familiar with the local area and roads. Use the journey planner for door to door directions. Check traffic updates before you travel.

If you are looking for car parking in and around the AONB, ensure you fully understand the rules, regulations & charges for car parks and street parking. The rules & regulations can be complex & confusing if you are unclear, it is wise not to park there.

If you are travelling by public transport, check for service updates prior to beginning your journey for any delays, disruption or cancellations to services that may impact on your journey. Ensure you have the service timetables for the trains, trams, buses and coaches. Remember when the last services are and ensure you make it to the train/bus/coach stops well in time to avoid missing the service.

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