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24 September 2014

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Coast: Norfolk beaches

Cley beach by Emma Peios
Cley beach by Emma Peios

Beach guide: Cley

by Joanna Peios
Walkers, bird-watchers, artists and food connoisseurs alike come to explore the picturesque north Norfolk village of Cley and its surrounding coastline.

Fact File

  • The beach car park costs £1.60 or is free to Norfolk Wildlife Trust members
  • Blakeney Point is open all year, though access is restricted to certain areas during the breeding season (May to September)
  • Dogs are not allowed west of Old Lifeboat House from April to September, and must be on a lead in other areas and at other times
  • The best time to walk to Blakeney Point is at low tide. Tide tables can be purchased in most local shops for 99p

Cley-Next-The-Sea is a perfectly preserved village between Blakeney and Salthouse on the north Norfolk coast.

A former ancient port on the River Glaven, the village has been left relatively unchanged since medieval times. It has a wealth of old buildings including the cathedral like St Margaret’s parish church and Cley Windmill.

The main part of the village is a pleasure to wander and is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The high street is so narrow that cars have to pass one by one, but the flint-fronted shops and galleries will easily distract you.

Cley windmill by Emma Peios
Cley windmill by Emma Peios

There's an excellent selection of local food and produce to be sampled here.

At Terroir, an award-winning, locally sustained restaurant, you can try its speciality of seasonal vegetable cooking.

The George pub also does great Sunday lunches. You can pop into Cley Smokehouse to take home a selection of the day’s catch or some of its fine smoked kippers or stock up at the well-known deli, Picnic Fayre.

Cley Windmill dates from the early 18th century and is a prominent landmark on the north Norfolk coast, now a guesthouse. You'll often see artists perched on stalls taking inspiration from the windmill that overlooks the sea, salt marshes and Cley Bird Santuary.

The windmill is a great place to start a walk out toward Blakeney Point and its salt marshes, and you can reward yourself when you return with a delicious cream tea in its tearooms.

The quiet, pebbly beach at Cley seems to stretch endlessly into the distance with stunning views to either side.

Much quieter than the well-known beaches of Brancaster and Holkham, you can walk from Cley along the coastal path and the beach is accessible by car.

The car park even has a quirky bookshop – not quite what you'd expect to find on a beach in Norfolk!

last updated: 10/11/05
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