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Seals In Norfolk

The Best Places To See Them

The seals in Norfolk are truly one of the county’s most special sights to see.  Without any doubt, it is an incredible WOW factor and one that you must see when in Norfolk.

Whether you come to see them with their seal pups in the winter months, or watch them basking in the sun in the summer months, this spectacle in Norfolk is an all year round activity to enjoy.

Plentiful seals at Blakeney Point in the summer and winter
A cute seal pup at Horsey Gap in Norfolk

The colonies of Common and Grey seals in Norfolk is growing rapidly every year.  This is very exciting, and it also means you now have a fantastic chance to see this incredible sight for much of the year.  And whether you’ve got children with you or not, I'll guarantee that you'll love these cuddly creatures!

When and where can you see the seals in Norfolk?

You’re very lucky to have a choice of three places to see the seals and their pups

  • on the west coast at Hunstanton
  • on the North Norfolk coast at Blakeney (for most of the year, with or without pups)
  • on the east coast at Horsey

November - end of January

This is the best time to watch the Grey seals and their pups.   The larger Grey seals come in huge numbers to give birth at both Blakeney Point  and Horsey Gap.

June-August

This is the best time to see the Common (slightly smaller) seals and their pups at Blakeney Point and on the sandbanks off Hunstanton.  

Summer Seal Watching In Norfolk

During the summer months you can see the seals by taking a boat trip from Hunstanton, or a boat trip to Blakeney Point (or you could walk from Cley to Blakeney Point).  The Common seals appear from June and have their pups until about August so there’s plenty of time to catch this spectacular sight on the North Norfolk coast.   

You can see some suggestions on boat trips here.

If you're happy to just see the grown seals without their pups then you can pretty much see them all year round.  The boat trips operate 52 weeks of the year.

Seals in Norfolk in the summer
Summer seals showing off!
Seals at Blakeney Point, North Norfolk
The Spit at Blakeney Point, Norfolk
  • Searles Boat trips from Hunstanton take you out in an amphibious vehicle to one of the many sand banks that appear at low tide in The Wash to see the basking seals in their natural environment. 
  • The other place to see the Common seals in Norfolk in the summer months is at Blakeney Point and there is more information here on the seal boat trips to Blakeney.  There are numerous boat companies that take you out to the Point, usually from Morston Quay, and you get spectacular views of these wonderful Common seals bobbing up and down in the water or lying on the sandy beach. 

Winter Seal Watching In Norfolk

During the winter months, the Grey seals come to give birth at both Blakeney and Horsey beach, usually from November until the end of January, Horsey being the more accessible place to spot them.

You get a brilliant view of the seals

  • At Horsey beach, miles and miles of sandy beach covered in these wallowing seals.
  • At Blakeney Point via a boat trip, or again you can walk along the shingle from Cley to the Point and back again (but you should make sure you know the tide times and quite how difficult and exhausting it is to walk over the shingle (unless you go at low tide).
Horsey Gap Grey seals in the winter
Grey Seals at Blakeney Point in the winter months
Blakeney Point Grey seals on the beach
A Grey seal and her pup at Horsey Gap

Where is the best place to see the seals in Norfolk?

Summer months

In the summer months the best place to see the seals in Norfolk is without doubt on Blakeney Point

There are so many and you just get such an unexpected sight of these wonderful creatures as the boat turns around the corner of the spit and there they all are.  You also get to see the all the varying wildlife such as terns with fish in their mouths, oyster catchers and numerous others, the iconic blue old lifeboat station and the thrill of sailing up the creeks amongst all the other sailing boats tinkering on the water. 

Sailing up the creek to see the seals
The Old Lifeboat station at Blakeney Point

Winter months

In the winter months, I would say that was debatable as to the best place.  Blakeney or Horsey – hmm.  I suppose it depends where you’re staying.  I have to say I got a huge thrill from both places, and both incredibly different.

  • Seeing the seals at Horsey is much more accessible, you can walk along the back of the dunes and up over onto the dedicated viewing platform all day and get a view of the vast expanse of beach covered with seals, cow and bull, and their pups.   You can also walk along the cordoned off path for a long way, admiring nature at its best.   I can’t put into words what an incredible sight it is.  Winterton beach also has a few seals in the winter, but nothing near as numerous as Horsey.  Horsey is also free, apart from the car parking charge which is machine operated.

The viewing platform at Horsey GapHorsey Gap viewing platform
A seal pup on the path at Horsey beachSeal pup on the path at Horsey beach
  • Blakeney, on the other hand, is a sort of hands off approach, unless you are privileged enough to get on one of the two National Trust seal tours where you land on the Point with a National Trust watcher, and get a guided tour around the Point and see the seals that way.  Otherwise it’s the boat trips from Morston Quay, all of which are excellent.  The National Trust are hoping to do more trips in the coming years.

Boat Trips

Here are some links to the boat trips:
Beans Boat Trips
Temples Boat Trips
Bishops Boat Trips
Ptarmigan Boat Trips

Boat trips from Morston Quay to Blakeney Point
Grey seal guarding her pupI'm watching you!

Why do the seals love Norfolk so much?

One of the main reasons that Norfolk has an abundance of seals is the huge expanse of flat sand and shallow waters which is perfect for giving birth, as well as the dunes that protect them.  They are more likely to survive here than other seal colonies around the rugged coast line where the tide bashes against them.

Dogs And Seals

Dogs and seals, or any wildlife for that matter, do not go together!  It is vitally important that dogs are kept well under control, particularly during the winter months when the seal pups have been born, for obvious reasons.   I know we do all love our dogs, but sometimes they are best left at home, and I think this is the perfect time to leave your pooch behind and just enjoy this rare sight.  The seals in Norfolk would prefer not to see you, sorry!!

If you see any seals by themselves, you shouldn’t approach them as they can be vicious.  The best thing to do is to contact the RSPCA.  Any ill seals from Norfolk go straight to the RSPCA East Winch Wildlife Centre where they are treated and released back to the sea when ready.  Their phone number is 0300 123 0709.

Seal Facts

Here are some seal facts for you!

  • The Grey seals, which are the ones that arrive in the winter, are the largest mammals on British shores, and are also known as Atlantic seals.  You can see the difference between these and the Common seals as they are altogether much bigger and have a much longer snout than the Common seal.
  • The seals only have one pup a year, probably because they use so much energy feeding their newborn, and the pups put on 2kg a day when suckling. 
  • A mother Grey seal lives for 35 years, whereas the male lives for 25 years and they can dive 70 meters in the water, but can only be under the water for about 30 minutes. 
  • The mothers’ feed their pups for approximately 2-3 weeks.
  • They can swim at about 19km an hour and on land they can move at the pace of our jogging. 
  • When they are first born, the seal pups have a yellowish fur, which then turns to white, and eventually to the mottled waterproof coat you can see in the picture below.
Newly born seal pups have yellow fur

It’s very difficult to put into words what an amazing experience seeing the seals in Norfolk is, both in the summer and winter months but I hope you’ll take the opportunity to see these wonderful creatures, and then you’ll understand what I mean!

For more on the boat trips to see the seals at Blakeney Point, visit my page on seal trips, and for more on the seals in the winter months at Horsey beach, go over to seals at Horsey here.

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