Welcome to Blakeney, a place where the beauty of the Norfolk coastline and the charm of a historic village converge to create a truly remarkable destination. Join us as we embark on a journey through Blakeney, discovering its hidden treasures and embracing the magic that awaits at every turn.
Blakeney promises an unforgettable experience that will leave you longing for more. So, let’s dive in and explore the things to do in Blakeney, Norfolk.
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Where is Blakeney located?
Blakeney is located on the North Norfolk coast. It sits within the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and is part of the larger Blakeney Point Nature Reserve. The village is nestled between Cley-next-the-Sea and Morston.
History of Blakeney
Blakeney’s history is a tapestry woven with tales of trade, piracy, and changing fortunes. The village’s architectural heritage reflects its prosperous past, with post-medieval flint buildings that still grace the area. Today, Blakeney stands as a testament to its rich historical legacy, offering visitors a glimpse into its maritime heritage and a peaceful retreat on the North Norfolk Coast.
The roots of Blakeney’s history stretch back to prehistoric times, evidenced by the discovery of scattered flint implements. Even during Roman times, there was believed to be a small settlement in the area.
The village made its appearance in the Domesday Book of 1086, where it was referred to as Snitterley. The name “Blakeney,” derived from Old English meaning ‘an island or dry ground in marsh,’ was first recorded during the 13th century.
During the medieval period, Blakeney thrived as a bustling and prosperous port. By the mid-13th century, it had already established itself as a well-known trade hub. The trade of salt fish played a pivotal role in the village’s success, as the Glaven ports, including Blakeney, gained renown for supplying cod and ling to London and even as far as Iceland.
Blakeney’s history is dotted with intriguing tales, and during the 12th century, the village gained notoriety for acts of piracy. Local residents fearlessly boarded vessels sailing from Flanders, capturing them and looting their cargo. Such was their audacity that they even defied the call to provide a ship for the battle against the Spanish Armada.
While neighboring ports like Cley and Wiveton fell victim to siltation in the 17th century, Blakeney continued to thrive. Regrettably, as ships grew larger, the harbor proved inadequate, leading to the decline of its trade. Today, the once bustling harbor has succumbed to silt, limiting access to small boats.
Over time, Blakeney has undergone a transformation into a picturesque and serene village, attracting tourists who seek solace amidst its beauty. The gradual silting of the estuary birthed expansive salt marshes, which now serve as havens for birdwatchers and leisurely walkers.
Things to Do in Blakeney
Despite its small size, Blakeney packs a punch when it comes to offering a delightful experience for visitors. From scenic walks to historical landmarks, this village has it all. Join me as we uncover the best things to do in Blakeney.
#1 Take a Walk
Immerse yourself in the beauty and tranquillity of Blakeney by embarking on a scenic walk. With a multitude of options available, you’ll be spoiled for choice in this picturesque area.
The Norfolk Coast Path conveniently passes through Blakeney Quay, so you could opt to walk a section of this renowned coastal trail, and then hop on the Coasthopper bus for a convenient return. Gather all the information you need to plan your Norfolk Coast Path adventure and make the most of this remarkable hiking experience with this comprehensive guidebook.
For those seeking a circular route, a popular choice is the 7.5-mile (12 km) walk that follows sea defence walls, charming roads, and scenic rights of way. It also takes you through the neighbouring villages of Cley and Wiveton. Discover more details about this walk here.
#2 See the Seals
Prepare for an awe-inspiring wildlife encounter at Blakeney Point, where you’ll discover one of the largest seal colonies in England. To witness the seals in their natural habitat, a boat tour is a must as you can’t reach the area on foot or by car.
Departing from Morston Quay, you have several reputable boat companies to choose from. Keep in mind that some of these companies require ticket collection at Blakeney Quay. Due to their popularity, it’s advisable to book your tour in advance to secure your spot.
If you’re seeking guidance on selecting the right boat company, look no further. I’ve personally reviewed Bishop’s Boats and John Bean Boat Trips, offering valuable insights to help you make an informed decision.
RELATED: Best Places to See Seals in Norfolk
#3 Go Crabbing
Experience the joy of crabbing at Blakeney Quay, a prime location where crabs thrive in its estuarial and creek waters. Simply dangle your line and bait into the water, patiently waiting for the crabs to bite.
If you don’t already have your own gear, you can purchase crabbing supplies in the village, get this environmentally-friendly option from Amazon, or make your own, just don’t use hooks. A small piece of raw smoked bacon serves as excellent bait.
Keep in mind that the crabs you’ll catch, known as Gilly crabs, are not edible. Remember to handle them with care, place them in a bucket with water, and release them back into the water gently.
#4 Visit the Blakeney Guildhall
Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the remains of the prosperous merchant house in Blakeney. With its remarkable 15th century brick-vaulted undercroft, this building later served as the guildhall for the village’s fish merchants.
Although access to the Guildhall’s interior is currently restricted (as of August 2022), you can still catch a glimpse through a grille in the door or the windows. This significant site, managed by English Heritage, is accessible during reasonable daylight hours.
#5 Take in the Views
Make your way up Mariner’s Hill, conveniently located across the street from the Quay and next to the Guildhall. Use the stairs by the Guildhall to make the climb easier. Once you reach the top, find a comfy spot on one of the benches and take in the stunning views of the Quay and marshland. You’ll be treated to a sight of numerous boats and maybe even spot some birds soaring above.
Mariner’s Hill has an interesting history—it’s believed to have been a lookout or beacon mount during medieval or post-medieval times. During World War II an air raid shelter was built inside the hill, adding to its historical significance. Enjoy the beauty of nature and a touch of history all in one spot.
#6 Feed the Ducks
Head over to the Blakeney Conservation Duck Pond for a delightful duck feeding experience. You’ll encounter a variety of ducks and geese, including mandarin ducks, shelducks, teals, wigeons, and maybe even an emperor goose!
Remember, they kindly request that you avoid feeding them bread. Instead, if you’d like to treat them, you can purchase duck food from convenient spots like Samantha Rose at Carnser car park, Seagulls and Samphire at Blakeney Quay, Blakeney Deli on High Street, or Weston’s Fish on Westgate Street.
If you prefer to simply watch, there are several benches along the side offering a prime view. Take a seat, enjoy the scene, and let the feathered friends entertain you. It’s a charming and relaxing activity for all ages.
#7 Browse the Art Galleries
You will want to check out the vibrant art scene in Blakeney by visiting two exceptional galleries: The Flint Art Gallery and The Quay Art Gallery. Both offer unique experiences that art enthusiasts will cherish.
At The Flint Art Gallery of Contemporary Fine Art, immerse yourself in a diverse collection of works by established and emerging artists. Inspired by the landscapes of North Norfolk, the artwork on display captures the beauty of the countryside and coast. Admire original paintings, bronze sculptures, studio ceramics, and glass pieces.
Quay Art specializes in original printmaking techniques, showcasing a range of stunning linocuts, etchings, collagraphs, and woodcuts. This printmaker’s gallery also features captivating coastal paintings, studio ceramics, fused glass, kiln-formed glass, wildlife sculptures, and artisan jewellery—all inspired by the captivating allure of the coast and countryside. If you want to see more of their art, you can also visit their location in Wells-next-the-sea.
#8 Have Afternoon Tea
You can indulge in a delightful afternoon tea experience right in the heart of Blakeney. Both The Blakeney Hotel and the Blakeney Manor Coastal Hotel offer tantalizing options for this beloved British tradition.
At Blakeney Manor Coastal Hotel, treat yourself to a scrumptious afternoon tea featuring finger sandwiches, an assortment of cakes, traditional scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam. You can sip on your choice of tea or coffee with refills, or upgrade to a sparkling afternoon tea for that extra touch of celebration.
The Blakeney Hotel also presents a delectable afternoon tea, complete with finger sandwiches, a selection of patisserie treats, a fruit scone with butter, local jam, clotted cream, and a pot of tea or coffee. Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, you can still enjoy afternoon tea in the Boat Room, Restaurant, and Bar. Hotel guests have the added privilege of having their afternoon tea in the Lookout or on the Terrace, offering delightful views.
So, whether you choose the Blakeney Manor Coastal Hotel or The Blakeney Hotel, an unforgettable afternoon tea experience awaits you in Blakeney. Delight in a delectable array of treats, paired with your favourite tea or coffee, and relish the charming ambiance of these venues.
#9 Relax at a Pub
When in Blakeney, make sure to visit one of its beloved pubs for a taste of local charm and a refreshing drink. The town boasts two popular establishments: The White Horse and The Kings Arms.
Step into The White Horse, where you can enjoy Adnams beer, wine, or spirits. This pub features a spacious and inviting bar area, perfect for mingling and enjoying a lively atmosphere. If you’re looking for a more relaxed setting, head to the rear of the pub, where you’ll discover a light and airy conservatory and a heavenly courtyard. It’s a delightful escape from the coastal winds, offering a tranquil spot to unwind and socialize.
For a touch of history and Georgian elegance, venture to The Kings Arms. This venerable Norfolk inn and B&B, standing for over 250 years, sits just a stone’s throw from Blakeney Quay. A favourite among both locals and visitors, The Kings Arms exudes a timeless charm. Take a seat in their well-appointed beer garden, adorned with sturdy bench tables and even swings for the little ones. On sunny days, it’s a popular gathering place.
Things to Do Near Blakeney
Don’t limit your exploration to just Blakeney! The surrounding area is brimming with special spots that are well worth a visit. Expand your horizons and consider checking out these nearby gems less than a 30 minute drive away.
Holt, with its Georgian architecture, has a rich past dating back to Roman times. After the Great Fire of Holt in 1708, it was rebuilt into the captivating place it is today.
Holt is a haven for foodies, art enthusiasts, shoppers, and antique lovers. Indulge in the culinary delights of Bakers & Larners’ renowned food hall, described as the East Anglian counterpart of Fortnum and Mason. Treat yourself to a special afternoon tea experience at Byfords or The Folly.
Explore the town centre’s art galleries and antique shops, while following the intriguing Owl Trail with its pavement plaques that lead you to historic sites.
For a delightful excursion just outside of Holt, visit the North Norfolk Railway station, home to a small museum. Hop on the Poppy Line, offering steam and diesel train services that will take you to the seaside town of Sheringham. Keep an eye out for their special events, including dining trains and behind-the-scenes tours.
Venture to Cley-next-the-Sea and uncover its rich history and natural beauty. Once a thriving medieval port and a smugglers’ haven, Cley-next-the-Sea is now renowned for its nature reserve and iconic windmill.
Explore Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s Cley Marshes, their oldest reserve, which seamlessly connects with Salthouse, forming a popular birdwatching site attracting over 110,000 annual visitors.
Capture the charm of Cley Windmill, a picturesque landmark converted into a guesthouse and wedding venue. Discover St. Margaret’s Church, a 13th-century gem, and indulge in the village’s delightful offerings like the smokehouse, bookshop, deli, and the George and the Dragon pub.
Wells is a charming seaside town, best known for its long row of beach huts on stilts on its huge sandy beach. The town of Wells-Next-the-Sea is actually about a mile from the beach by the harbour. The quayside area has several historic buildings including the iconic granary building.
Wells-Next-the-Sea is also a hotspot for the arts in North Norfolk. The town has several art galleries and the relatively new Wells Maltings, an arts, heritage and community centre inside a Grade-II listed Maltings building.
Read about more things to do in Wells-Next-The-Sea.
The earthworks that make up Warham Camp Iron Age Hill Fort were built over 2000 years ago by the Iceni Tribe. There were two huge circular banks and ditches encompassing 1.5 hectares by a bend in the River Stiffkey (pronounced Stewkey).
Today, the earthworks are no longer quite a full circle. Still, you can walk on what is left and take in some breathtaking views of the countryside.
It is free to visit. Get more information about going to Warham Camp.
If you’re up for a historical and serene outing, make sure to visit Binham Priory. This place has been a hub of worship for over 800 years! While it may have faced closure and partial dismantling during the dissolution of the monasteries, the nave still stands proudly as the Binham parish church.
Take your time to wander around the priory’s enchanting ruins, soaking in the ancient atmosphere. Don’t forget to step inside the parish church itself, where you’ll discover even more fascinating history. If the weather permits, why not pack a delightful picnic and enjoy it in the peaceful surroundings? It’s the perfect way to make the most of this lovely spot.
Get more information about visiting here.
Muckelburgh Military Collection
Discover the Muckleburgh Military Collection in Weybourne, a museum showcasing tanks, armoured cars, uniforms, weapons, and more that is a must for military enthusiasts. It’s one of the country’s largest privately owned military museums, offering an immersive experience in military history. Explore artillery, machine guns, missiles, ships, and intricate land warfare models.
It’s only open from early April to late October. The tank driving experience is not included in your admission. You need to book that in advance by posting the form that can be downloaded here.
How Long Should You Spend in Blakeney?
You can explore the highlights of Blakeney in a day. Within this timeframe, you can stroll along the quayside, visit local shops, enjoy a boat trip to Blakeney Point to see the seals, and enjoy the local pubs. While a longer stay allows for a more leisurely experience and gives you time to see the surrounding area, a day is sufficient to get a taste of Blakeney’s charm.
Is Blakeney Good for Kids?
Blakeney is a fun-filled destination for the whole family. Kids will enjoy crabbing, seeing seals up close on boat trips and going on family-friendly walks. Get more family-friendly ideas in our post about the best things to do in Norfolk with kids.
Where to Stay in Blakeney
When it comes to finding a place to stay in Blakeney, you’ll be delighted by the plethora of highly rated accommodation options available. Whether you’re seeking luxury or the comforts of a holiday home, Blakeney has something to suit every preference.
For those desiring a touch of indulgence, consider the elegant Blakeney Hotel or the charming Blakeney Manor Coastal Hotel. These luxury establishments offer a range of amenities and impeccable service, ensuring a memorable stay in the heart of the village.
Alternatively, if you prefer the privacy and flexibility of a holiday home, Blakeney offers an array of delightful options. From cosy cottages to houses with gardens, you’ll find the perfect home away from home to suit your needs. See the options for holiday homes in Blakeney here.
The Blakeney Hotel
The Blakeney Hotel is a privately owned, 4-star establishment with stunning panoramic views of the salt marshes and Blakeney Point. It offers stylishly decorated rooms, a renowned restaurant with estuary views, and leisure facilities including an indoor pool and games room. Enjoy a comfortable and memorable stay at The Blakeney Hotel.
Read Tripadvisor reviews here.
The Blakeney Manor Coastal Hotel
Escape to The Blakeney Manor Coastal Hotel & Inn for an unforgettable holiday. Discover stylish rooms equipped with modern amenities, enjoy complimentary WiFi and private parking. Delight in delectable British cuisine at the restaurant, offering options for various dietary preferences. Start your day with a satisfying breakfast before exploring Blakeney. Secure your booking here now for a stay with unparalleled comfort, convenience, and genuine hospitality.
Read Tripadvisor reviews here.
How to Get to Blakeney
Blakeney enjoys a prime location just off the A149 between Morston and Cley-next-the-sea. If you’re arriving by car, you have a couple of parking options to choose from. The Blakeney Quay car park offers free parking for National Trust members, while the Village Hall Car Park on Langham Road provides free parking for everyone.
While Blakeney doesn’t have its own railway station, the village is conveniently situated along the Coasthopper bus line. If you prefer traveling by train, you can hop on a train to Sheringham and then catch the Coasthopper bus, which will whisk you away to Blakeney.
Is Blakeney Worth Visiting?
Blakeney is definitely worth a visit. This charming village on the Norfolk coastline offers stunning natural landscapes, a rich historical heritage, and a tranquil ambiance. Explore the salt marshes and spot seals at Blakeney Point, wander through picturesque streets and immerse yourself in the village’s history. You won’t want to leave.
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