Burnham Deepdale,


20th - 22nd February




Having ventured down to Suffolk in 2007, this was the hiking club's first outing in Norfolk since I have been a member. In fact I subsequently brought friends from Austria as well as my brother, over in the United Kingdom on a holiday, up here on two separate occasions. The Granary Group Hostel bunkhouse at Burnham Deepdale had been booked for this particular weekend excursion. It is a self-contained 17th century building sleeping 18 in four bedrooms with a fully fitted kitchen and dining/sitting room. Located on Deepdale Farm in Norfolk, the Granary is fully heated, has showers, a drying room and solar water heating. The turnout and sleeping arrangements were as follows:



Sleeping arrangements


Sleeping arrangements

Peter Groves

Room 1x2

Maeve Weber

Room 4 x 4

Spare bed

Room 1x2 

Andy Weber

Room 4 x 4

Martin Lighten

Room 2x6

Steve Rogers

Room 4 x 4

Vanda Ralevska

Room 2x6

Jane Sherry

Room 4 x 4

Sandra Bird

Room 2x6

Bob Smith

Room 3 x 6


Room 2x6

John Robertson

Room 3 x 6

Julia Hastings

Room 2x6

Tim Porter

Room 3 x 6

Spare bed

Room 2x6

Rob Irving

Room 3 x 6



Dave Colli

Room 3 x 6



Spare bed

Room 3x6 


I had arranged a lift with Tim Porter and in doing so, had got wind of the fact that well-known Zimbabwean-born South African virtuoso guitarist Tony Cox was doing a gig some 45 minutes down the road at The Acoustic Kitchen in Kings Lynn, for the princely some of £12 including a meal! Much to my surprise, Maeve and Andy as well as a colleague and his wife attended. Tony is a fantastic performer and the evening proved a wonderful introduction to what we hoped would be a memorable and worthwhile hiking weekend. The fact that Dave and Rob were in attendance meant that we were also being entertained by our resident hiking club band, which inevitably involved the trusty duo.

The walk that had been planned for the Saturday would see us cover the coastal salt marshland of the Norfolk coastline along Peddars Way and the Norfolk Coastal Path. The Norfolk coastal path is in fact 45 miles long and runs all the way from Hunstanton in the west to Cromer in the east. It links with the Peddars Way at Holme-next-the-Sea, and the two in combination form the Peddars Way & Norfolk Coast Path National Trail, one of 15 National Trails in England and Wales. At Cromer it links to the Weavers Way. Leaving Burnham Deepdale the path skirts Deepdale and Norton Marshes, before turning towards the A149 near Overy Marsh. Passing through the town of Burnham Overy Staithe, it heads towards an extensive section of coastline known as the Dunes. Continuing east, it reaches the section of dunes known as Holkham Meals. Following the coastline beyond Holkham Gap, we reached the town of Wells-next-the-Sea, a term fully appropriate given its position, following the path parallel to the railway running along a sea wall.









The photos above depict the Norfolk coastal path salt marshes between Burnham Deepdale and burnham Overy Staithe.


The name of the town of Wells is Guella in the Domesday Book (Latinized from Anglian Wella, a spring). This derives from spring wells of which Wells used to have many, rising through the chalk of the area. The town is now a mile from the North Sea, as a result of the silting of the harbour. The Holkham Estate reclaimed some 800 hectares of saltmarsh north-west of Wells, and this was completed with the mile-long sea-wall in 1859: This reclamation reduced the tidal scour and is itself a further cause of silting. The town has long thrived as a seaport and is now also a seaside resort with a popular beach that can be reached on foot or by a narrow gauge railway that runs partway alongside the mile-long sea wall north of the harbour. The beach is known for its long flat terrain, abstract sand dunes, varied unique beach huts and a naturist area situated to the west at Holkham. A land-locked brackish pool called Abraham's Bosom is used for pleasure boating and canoeing. The beach is backed by dense pine woods growing on sand, which are part of the Holkham National Nature Reserve.




The following are examples of birds that may be found on the North Norfolk Coast.

Avocet This is one of the rarer of the waders to be seen. It has very characteristic markings, making it instantly recognisable. It nests in the marshlands, otherwise to be seen on estuaries and mudflats. (43cm)

Bewick Swan This swan is a winter visitor, and much like its fellow-visitor, the whooper.  It has a much smaller yellow area on its beak. Its call is more musical.  (122cm)

Bittern  This bird has become very rare. Additionally it is very secretive. It has a very pointed beak, but its major character is its booming call.  (76cm)

Black tern  About the same size as the Little Tern, it is distinguishable by its  extensive black-grey plumage. (24cm)

Brent Goose  Anyone visiting this coast in late autumn and winter will be familiare with the flights of flocks of brent geese. It has a black head and breast. Otherwise its plumage is grey on its wings and pale 
underneath. (59cm)

Canada Goose  Seen either inland or on estuaries, this is a resident goose. It is characterised by its black neck and white cheeks. (97cm)
Common Tern  Although almost identical with the Arctic Tern, this species is by far more common. It has the characteristic red bill and white throat.  (35cm)

Coot Visit almost any pond or river and you will see the coot .Black-feathered, the coot is distinuished from the Moorhen by
 its white 'shield'.  (38cm)

Curlew Sandpiper Common on marshes and mud flsts, it has a characteristic down-curved beak.. Its plumage is brown in summer, but grey in winter. (19cm)

Great Black-backed Gull This is much the largest of the gulls. Its other major characteristic is its black wings.  (66cm)

Green Sandpiper This is usually a passing migrant bird, though occasionally one will over-winter.. It s characterised by its dark
underside and its divided tail, and in its zigzag flight.  (23cm)

Grey Wagtail This bird does wag it tail as it walks.. It is commonly to be seen near water, and where there's levl ground.. Its yellow breast is in marked contrast to its otherwise grey plumage.  (18cm)

Herring Gull  Like the Common Gull, it has pearly-grey plumage, but is white underneath. It is much larger then its 'Common' cousin. (61cm)

Little tern  This is much smaller than most sea-birds. Its plumage is a characteristic pearly-grey with a long yellow beak.  (24cm)




Mallard  This is the commonest of the fresh-water ducks. The male has a characteristic green head, with white neck-band and brown chest and bright blue speculum.  (58cm)

Mute Swan This is our only resident swan. If you need to distinguish it then you can do so by its bright orange bill.  (152cm)

Oystercatcher Very common on this coast, it is easily recognisable by its red beak and long pink legs. It is instantly recognisable on the estuaries and mudflats.  (43cm)

Pied wagtail  Like its 'grey' cousin, it is recognised by its habit of wagging its tail. Its plumage, which varies with season is always white and black or slate-grey  (18cm)

Red-necked Grebe This is a summer visitor. Its yellow-orange ear-tufts offset its dark grey plumage.  (43cm)

Shelduck This rather rare duck is commonly found by the sea and on mudflats. It has vivid colouring, with a bright red bill and green, white and chestnut chest plumage. (61cm)

Skylark This bird has suffered from modern farming methods and has become somewhat rare. It is still to be found on the North Norfolk coast. You will rarely see it close to, but its hovering flight, vertical ascent/descent and trilling song make it unmistakable.  (18cm)

Tufted duck Apart from pale-grey flanks and bill this duck is all black. It is often seen diving.. The male bird sports a noticeable crest.  (43cm)

White-fronted Goose This winter visitor  It is most easily identified by its yellow bill and yellow feet. It has black stripes of plumage on its belly.  (71cm)

Whooper Swan A winter visitor, it is very like the Bewick Swan. It has a larger yellow area on its beak, and a raucous call.  (152cm)

Wood Sanpiper This is more an inhabitant of fresh water. Its appearance is rather undistinguished. Its has yellow legs.  (20cm)



The coastal scenes above depict Burnham Overy Staithe.





We returned to the dunes at the the coast and picked up the path through the pine forest that led to Lady Anne's Drive and directly to the village of Holkham. At one time the village was a landing with access to the sea via a tidal creek to the harbour at Wells. The creek succumbed to land reclamation, much of which created the grounds of the estate, starting in 1639 and ending in 1859 when the harbour at Wells was edged with a sea wall. The land west of the wall was subsequently turned to agricultural uses. Aerial photographs show traces of the creek in the topsoil, and the lake to the west of the hall appears to be based on a remnant of it. Now the village serves principally as the main entrance to the hall and deer park, and to Lady Anne's Drive which leads to the beach. From the redbrick gift shop and tearoom with its quaint chimneys, we followed the road that led up the hillside to the entrance at Holkham Hall Estate.



The photos above depict the Norfolk coastal walk between Burnham Overy Staithe and the dunes leading up to Holkham Meals.



The dunes section of the coastal walk.


Holkham Hall is an 18th century country house. Holkham Hall is one of England's finest examples of the Palladian revival style of architecture (a European style of architecture derived from the designs of the Venetian architect Andrea Palladio) and severity of its design is closer to Palladio's ideals than many of the other numerous Palladian style houses of the period. The Holkham estate, formerly known as Neals, had been purchased in 1609 by Sir Edward Coke, the founder of his family fortune. It is the ancestral home of the Coke family, the Earls of Leicester of Holkham. Holkham was built by first Earl of Leicester, Thomas Coke, who was born in 1697. Coke, who had been made Earl of Leicester in 1744, died in 1759—five years before the completion of Holkham—having never fully recovered his financial losses as a result of the disastrous investment in the South South Sea Company, a British joint stock company that traded in South America during the 18th century.


The gift shop and tearoom at Holkham.


Holkham Hall Estate.


The gifts shop at Holkham and its distinctive chimneys; deer on Holkham Hall Estate.


The mob back at Deepdale Granary: (Back L-R) Vanda, Andy, Bob, Tim, Jane, Peter, Steve and John. (Front L-R) Maeve, Martin, Dave and Julie.


Having negotiated a section of Holkham Hall Estate, we returned to the village, as a decision had been made that we would take a bus back to Burnham Deepdale. For dinner we wandered up the road to a pub, which might have been the Jolly sailors in Brancaster Staithe. Back at the hostel, the evening's entertainment was by way of Dave and Rob, the session proving somewhat experimental, as Dave was trying out a new PA he had acquired. The following day Tim Porter led a group west along the coastal path towards Brancaster Harbour, though it turned out not half as interesting as the previous day's walk, although we did encounter two seals in a tidal creek. We found it increasingly difficult to continue across the sand beach, sections being cut off by meandering streams of water which swelled as the tide came in. Not wishing to be caught out by the tides, we decided not to chance our luck and turned back.


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Links to other websites:

Deepdale Granary Group Hostel - website

Norfolk Coastal Path - National Trail website

Norfolk birdlife - Birds of Britain website

Holkham wildlife - Holkham National Nature Reserve website

Holkham Hall - official website

Holkham Hall - webpage

Wells-next-the -Sea - webpage