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Holkham Beach

Beauty On The North Norfolk Coast

Holkham Beach  - there is something magical about this beach that just takes your breath away, and it is extremely difficult to capture in words how beautiful it is, and why it is so special to Norfolk and all who live and visit here.

Yes, there is a little bit of an amble along board walks to reach Holkham bay, then a little walk across slightly sludgy brown mud (unless you go round the edge), but don’t let that put you off visiting, because once past this, you just don’t get any better anywhere else in the UK.

Holkham BeachHuge panoramic views over Holkham Beach

It is one of the most stunning areas of coastline to visit, with its endless miles of unspoilt golden sands and wide open landscapes with massive skies, you’ll want to return again and again.  And if it gets too hot, you can find shelter in the pine forest behind the dunes.

And as it's part of the Holkham Nature Reserve, it's incredibly well maintained too, and with Holkham Hall a stone's throw away, you can very happily spend a whole day in this area.

Map of the Norfolk Beaches

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Holkham beach is a totally un-commercial beach.  It's definitely one for bringing your own picnic, as the walk back to the car park is not a quick one.    There are also NO lifeguards on Holkham beach.

I really hope I can do it justice here.

The approach to Holkham beach
The sun on Holkham beach sand dunes
Dog friendly beach at Holkham

Bucket and Spading at Holkham Beach

More often than not, the tide is out, leaving this wonderful hard sand to play on, to walk on or even to ride on.  This is a dog friendly beach, but there are now restrictions during the summer months of April to September where you need to keep them on a lead.  But once away from the restrictions, they can run for miles, as can the children! 

This is also a horse friendly beach!  This is really the best beach to ride horses on for a couple of reasons - one is that you can park easily, the second is that you can ride out away from everyone, thereby leaving them to enjoy themselves and you to enjoy exercising your horses without worrying.

And whilst I'm on about horses, put the first week of July in your diary to come and watch the Household Cavalry exercise their horses on the beach every morning for a week.   It's great fun to watch.

No concrete buildings or sea defenses here.  This is a beach that really sums up North Norfolk - huge skies and endless swathes of sand.  Holkham beach is lined with sand dunes and pine forests.

Once you’ve gone past Holkham bay, you can either turn eastwards or westwards, both have wonderful sand dunes where you can shelter and make your base, or you can just walk away from others and plonk your gear down and spend the rest of the day enjoying yourself, having a picnic, playing cricket, tennis, football or just talking the day away.   Bliss!  This really is one of the best Norfolk beaches.

This is definitely a bucket and spade beach, and you're guaranteed not to have to squeeze onto the beach with everyone else.  Plenty of room for everyone.  

The Lookout Cafe And Visitor Centre

The Lookout visitor centre 500 yards from the beach at HolkhamThe Lookout

In 2018 Hoklham Estate built a very modern environmentally friendly circular building which is officially a visitor centre.  It has WC's, seating, a cafe and an educational area and is situated just 500 yards from the beginning of the beach and close to the car park.  This is a huge improvement for those of you visiting the beach.

It's called "The Lookout" and has stunning views over the marshes and pinewoods.  If you fancy a little time to bird watch or teach your children a little about nature, then there's plenty to read up about here - it's aim is to educate visitors.  Or maybe you might like an absolutely delicious, wrapper free ice lolly too!

A delicious wrapper free strawberry and cream lolly!

The Household Cavalry on Holkham Beach

One of the great sights to come and watch on this beach in July is the  Household Cavalry.

They come here annually, bringing their horses to exercise them on the beach.  It is  a wonderful sight if you manage to time it right, usually at the beginning of July. 

The Household Cavalry have been coming to Norfolk for more than 23 years now for their annual training.  As operational soldiers, they are based in London for 11 months of the year and their trip up to Norfolk allows them a little bit of relief from their full-on schedules.  These are the soldiers who play a large part in ceremonial duties in London as well as serving abroad.

It's fun to watch some of the horses who haven't been in the sea before and the skilled horsemanship of the soldiers riding bareback when they go into the water.  They arrive in their uniform, but soon undress!

The Household Cavalry Exercising Their Horses on Holkham Beach

Walking at Holkham Beach

If you don’t want to sunbathe on the miles of golden sand and would like a  “good” walk, then this is another fantastic place to cometo.  You can stride out amongst the sand dunes or the pine forests which have well-worn paths, all of which form part of the Holkham National Nature Reserve as well as the Norfolk Coast Path. 

Holkham beach is usually walked on day 2 if you're walking the Norfolk Coast Path.

Holkham beach sand dunes

There is a very good 3 mile circular walk which goes along the beach and then comes back along the pine woods which you can find in the 16 Coastal Dog Walks book here.

You can also easily walk from Holkham all the way to Wells-next-the-Sea  to the East, or Burnham Overy Staithe to the West.  This is a really stunning walk and one of best stretches of the Norfolk Coast Path.

Most visitors arriving at Holkham beach walk along the board walk straight ahead from the car park.  If  you don’t feel like following everyone along this board walk, why not head westwards for a short distance.  If you turn left as you pass through the car parking gates towards the beach, walk along the North Coast Path and on reaching the Washington Hide, you can take the right hand turn along another board walk and out towards the sea.  By doing this, you come out away from everyone, onto the dunes and beach and into solitude!

Holkham west beach approach

Dogs On Holkham Beach

Dog restrictions on Holkham beach

Holkham beach is a very dog friendly beach and you'll definitely come across other dogs here. 

However, the beach backs onto the nature reserve, so it is very important to make sure you keep them well under control, particularly during the nesting season. 

Since 2022, dog restrictions have come into place to protect these nesting birds.  You need to keep them on a lead until you pass the dunes (marked by an area highlighed in orange on their information board).

Bird watching at Holkham Beach

As with a few other Norfolk beaches such as Titchwell and Cley , hidden behind Holkham beach are two bird watching hides which overlook the grazing marshes.   These marshes are hugely important during the winter months for the famous pink-footed geese and brent geese.  This is a very popular place for bird watchers to come and see the geese at dusk.  Many a time will you see birders with their cameras and binoculars!

These hides are hidden treasures to those that come bird watching, as everyone else heads straight towards the beach, probably totally unaware of what’s within the pine forests; 

  • Coming from the car park, you can take first left hand walk, the Norfolk Coast Path, and this can take you all the way to Burnham Overy Staithe.  But on the way, you’ll come across the hides, grazing marshes and reed lined pools, all buzzing with an amazing array of nature.

The Lookout is also a popular place to come and pick up a cup of coffee and watch the wildlife too.

You can read more about the Holkham Nature Reserve here.

Washington hide at Holkham

Holkham National Nature Reserve, looked after by Natural England, is one of the most important and popular sites in the whole of the UK

Grazing marshland at Holkham
Reed lined pool behind Holkham beach

Holkham Beach Car Parking

Parking for the beach is along Lady Anne's Drive.  This is just off the main coastal road, A149 and opposite the entrance to Holkham village.  There is plenty of space, but in the really busy summer months it does get quite full and you may have to walk quite a way to reach the beach.  

Payment is by a pay and display machine.

So, if you’re looking for the most unspoilt beaches on the North Norfolk coast, then Holkham beach is truly one of Norfolk’s most beautiful beaches you’ll find.

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