If you are going to see the seals at Horsey, nothing quite prepares you for the sight that you’re faced with once over the dunes and onto the viewing platform which has been especially set up for the seal pup viewing during the winter months of late October through to February.
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It’s a really special treat, and Horsey Gap is probably the best place in Norfolk to see the seals in the winter as there are no limits as to how long you can stay, how far you can walk and how to spend your time there (though there are roped off areas which you must adhere to for the sake of the seals).
Unfortunately, wheelchair accessibility is not good here. There is a steep incline up to the top of the dunes and once on the dunes, the sand is fairly soft. The other viewing area also has steps up to the top.
The seals at Horsey usually start to have their pups in late October/early November and carry on until early February so there’s a big window of opportunity for you to visit.
However, if you aren't in Norfolk in the winter months, then no worries. Watching the seals in Norfolk is an all year round activity. In the summer months it's mainly on the North Norfolk coast. You can find out more about other seal trips here.
The Friends of Horsey Seals, a volunteer seal warden group, took over from Natural England in 2012 and now monitor the seals and the area every day. Unfortunately, funding ceased for Natural England and they could no longer use their time to look after the seals. The Friends of Horsey Seals are always looking for new volunteers, so if you are interesting in helping, please go to the Friends of Horsey Seals website here.
They cordon off the beach during the pupping season so you obviously
can’t go onto the beach, and actually you probably wouldn’t want to for
fear of being mauled by an angry seal. But they do have excellent paths
which you can follow and you’ll have no trouble getting great views of
the seals and their pups.
Every year the seals in Norfolk are increasing which is excellent news for the seal colony.
There are two ways you can arrive to see the seals at Horsey Gap.
The first is to park at the Horsey Gap car park (this is NOT a National Trust car park), pay your parking charge at the machine operated meter and then follow the signs which are clearly marked to see the seals.
This path is a cordoned off track which doesn’t allow you onto Horsey beach, but does allow you to walk all the way along the back of the dunes and eventually on to the top of the dunes to see the spectacle.
From the car park, the first viewing area is on your left and will take you about 10 minutes to walk there. This path takes you up past the old pill box with incredible views inland over the surrounding area. From here you’ll find you can view a short stretch of beach behind the rope.
The second viewing area to see the seals at Horsey is by far the better one as the seals are huge in number compared to the area closer to the car park.
You approach this by walking from the car park along the sand path all the way to the steps which take you over the dunes. This will probably take you about 20 minutes. The sign says 35 minutes, but I think you have to be walking quite slowly to take that long!
The viewing platform on the top of the dunes is an actual metal structure with a roped off area on the top of the dunes where you can walk further along. It is much longer than the first viewing area which is why it's worth the extra walk to get here.
From the viewing platform you can watch the seals and their pups for as long as you like. You can continue to walk away from the viewing platform along the top of the dunes marvelling at the incredible sight of all these seals lying on the beach. All you can see for miles is this incredible stretch of sand, interspersed with large bolders for groynes and seals. Seals, seals and more seals!
It really did blow my mind to see these wonderful creatures in their own natural habitat, just being left to get on with giving birth without any interference from humans. The best thing I loved about it was that there was no health and safety involved, apart from the regulatory signs warning you about “Caution, soft sand” – where does that one fit in on a beach!!!!! Totally back to mother nature on this quite beach in Norfolk.
I would suggest you wrap up warm if you’re coming to see the seals at Horsey, but any weather will do! I went on a cold and blustery day, but it certainly didn’t detract from my pure enjoyment of this amazing scene. There are also wardens on hand to answer any questions, especially during the busy months of December and January.
The second way to arrive at the viewing area is to
However, Horsey Gap isn’t the only place to enjoy the seals in Norfolk. Dedicated seal tours which take you out to Blakeney Point is the other way to see the seals, usually taking a boat trip from one of the boat companies which motor up the creek and out to the spit, giving you a fantastic view of the seals on the beach there. Because you’re on a boat, this is obviously more controlling, but you still get a great picture of these wonderful mammals.
There are numerous Norfolk gems to discover, but this should definitely be top of your list to visit.