A lovely coastal village and one of the most enchanting on the North Norfolk Coast
An Introduction to Blakeney
The lovely coastal village of Blakeney is one of the most enchanting on the North Norfolk Coast and is one of our favourites. Blakeney started life as a busy medieval commercial port until the estuary began to silt up preventing all but pleasure craft from gaining access. The silting has left a fascinating landscape of marshes, sand hills and mud banks, with many creeks and channels twisting and turning their way through. Blakeney village is set on a small hill leading down to the harbour and has pretty flint cottages (many for holiday rent), shops, cafe's, restaurants, hotels, pubs and inns. In a side street off the quay is the 14th century Guildhall which has an early example of a brick built vaulted ceiling. The beautifully restored, village church is large and spacious with many interesting features.
Blakeney is a perfect setting to explore this section of the North Norfolk Coast, as there are many fine coastal walks to nearby Morston Quay (west) or Cley next the Sea (east). Local attractions also include boat seal trips and an excellent local cafe!
We start our tour of Blakeney at the quay which was once a bustling trading port, full of the aroma of spices and bright with colours from oriental cloths. The Blakeney Hotel sits right on the quay and was opened in 1923; it is built on the site of an old smugglers inn called the Crown and Anchor, known locally as the Barking Dickey! The quay is where you can purchase tickets for boat trips to Blakeney Point to see the seal colony, although the trips themselves usually depart from nearby Morston Quay (see below). A pay and display car-park sits adjacent to the quay and the area contains several interesting shops. At one end of the quay you will find Blakeney village sign, showing an old shipping galleon plus the figure of a fiddler and his dog, which refers to a local legend that tells of the fiddler entering a tunnel under the Guildhall and they were never seen again!
Blakeney Harbour and Quay
Arts and Crafts Caravan in the Harbour Car Park
The view over Blakeney Harbour
St Nicholas Church Hall, situated opposite the quay
Seafood and Sandwiches for sale at the harbour
Blakeney Point Seal Trips
Blakeney Village Sign
A spooky legend tells that in January 1709 during a terrible storm, a cargo ship traveling to Blakeney was wrecked at Salthouse, drowning all the crew. Amongst the bodies was a great black dog called Black Shuck, who was found next to the body of his master on the beach. Ever since, a huge black dog is supposed to haunt this section of the Norfolk Coast, howling for his master!
Tucked away in an alley just off the quay you will find the Blakeney Guildhall. The top floor has long gone, but the
remains of a 14th century undercroft still remain. Entry is free and it is most likely that this was the basement of a 14th century merchant's house and was used for the storage of cargo. Before you leave this area of Blakeney, it is well worth climbing the hill adjacent to the Guildhall and you are rewarded with fine views over Blakeney Harbour and the path leading towards the sea.
The brick vaulted undercroft of Blakeney Guildhall
The view from the top of the hill adjacent to the Guildhall
From the quay, the High street leads up into the village. You will see pretty cottages, the majority of which are constructed from local flint and once home to local fisherman. Many are painted in bright colours and can be found hidden behind flowers in alleys to either side of the street. Blakeney also contains a couple of hotels, a pub, a delicatessen, gift shops and art galleries. Please note that dogs are allowed in both the Kings Arms and the White Horse.
Blakeney High Street
A cottage in Blakeney
Cottages tucked away in a flower decked alley
The Moorings Restaurant and Cafe
The Anchor Shop, Blakeney
Inside the Flint Art Gallery, Blakeney
Kings Arms Pub (dogs allowed)
A weather station in the High Street
Although peaceful now, it’s hard to imagine that in medieval times, Blakeney's streets would have been home to pirates and smugglers. There was often rivalry between the men of Blakeney and other local Norfolk villagers to see who could be first to claim the cargo of a passing ship! It was not unknown for ships to be attacked and brought into Blakeney harbour to be plundered at leisure.
Situated in the centre of Blakeney village, behind all the buildings, is a green open space called the Pastures. This is a lovely open space to enjoy a picnic on sunny days or to walk the dog! The Pastures contains a 3-ton marker stone, placed by villagers to mark the millennium - the inscription reads "We Blakeney people of the 20th century have placed this millennium marker stone for those that follow. We trust and hope that they will live in peace. Keeping the Pastures green forever. 01-01-2000".
Blakeney Pastures Millennium Marker Stone
Relaxing on the Pastures
There is a free car-park on the opposite side the A149 coast road at Blakeney Village Hall. It is only a short stroll into the centre of the Blakeney and it avoids parking charges and negotiating narrow streets.
One of the main reasons that visitors flock to Blakeney is to enjoy a walk from the village out onto the marsh. It is less than three miles to Cley next the Sea and the views along the way are simply outstanding. Horse races were once a regular feature on these marshes, with the last race taking place in 1826. They also became a haunt for smugglers, who told many frightening stories about the marshes to locals in an effort to keep them away!
Walking on Blakeney Marshes
The view towards Blakeney Lifeboat House
One of the many creeks that cross the marsh
Situated on the outskirts of the village, you will find the large parish church of St Nicholas and it is well worth a visit. The church has an unusual small, second tower at the far corner of the chancel; where a light would burn as a beacon to guide ships safely into Blakeney Harbour. The main church tower is one of the highest in Norfolk (100ft) and is a landmark for miles around. Inside, the church has a lovely early English chancel, built in 1220 and you will also find some splendid wood carving and fine stained glass windows.
Blakeney Church of St. Nicholas
Inside Blakeney Church
Nautical themed stained glass
Detailed carved wood inside Blakeney Church
A side chapel inside the church
Midway between Blakeney and Cley next the Sea, just off the coast road, you will find Wiveton Hall. If you like a cafe then this is an essential place to visit. This tea-room has become so popular, it is recommended that you book at peak times (weekends and school holidays). Refreshments include not only the usual tea/coffee and cake, but also a good selection of main meals and snacks. There is also a shop selling gifts and plants. The whole site overlooks the coast and you can even pick your own fruit from the adjacent fruit farm.
The cafe at Wiveton Hall
The garden overlooking the North Norfolk Coast
Inside Wiveton Hall Cafe
Finally, it is worth pointing out that most of the Seal Boat Trips depart from Morston Quay (not Blakeney). Morston Quay is less than a mile to the west of Blakeney and an easy walk. Alternatively there is a pay and display car-park directly adjacent to the quay. You will find a visitors centre with a small tower, giving fine views over the the entire Blakeney Harbour. There is also a refreshment shop and sandwich van (seasonal).
Morston Quay at Low Tide
Observation Tower and stalls at Morston Quay
The path between Morston Quay and Blakeney
Blakeney Summary of what to SEE and DO
Walk the Norfolk Coast path towards Cley or in the opposite direction to Morston Quay
Take a trip to the seal colony (most depart from Morston Quay).
Make a visit to nearby Wiveton Hall and enjoy a refreshment in the cafe
Blakeney would make a good choice for a base to explore the North Norfolk Coast, and there is plenty to keep you occupied in the village itself. Walkers will particularly enjoy Blakeney as it is a good starting point for walks to either Morston Quay or Cley next the Sea and beyond. Blakeney is one of our favourite village's on the North Norfolk Coast.
This is a good and comprehensive Norfolk guidebook
This is a great book of Norfolk Trivia!
The best paper map for North Norfolk Coast walkers
If you like circular walks to a pub, this is the book for you!
Thanks for your website and the wonderful photos of Blakeney. They bring back so many memories to me. I lived at Long Furlong House, near Holt with my family, and grew to love the sea, the beaches and all the special landmarks in the area. Especially Blakeney as this is where I lived for a while with my husband in one of the houses off the high street. I made many friends whilst there who I have lost touch with once I moved to live in Australia for the past 38 years. Regards, Kippy, Australia.
Lovely pictures and tour - my family owned the Kings Arms pub in Blakeney for many years during late 1800's. Thanks for your tour, Marcella.