Walking from Hunstanton to Brancaster Staithe on the Norfolk Coast Path – England

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  • Post last modified:22/06/2024
Walking from Hunstanton to Brancaster Staithe on the Norfolk Coast Path, England. Image of colourful beach huts with green grass in the foreground.
Walking from Hunstanton to Brancaster Staithe on the Norfolk Coast Path, England. Image of colourful beach huts with green grass in the foreground.

Stretching 83 miles through the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England is the Norfolk Coast Path. It runs from Hunstanton to Hopton on Sea, via Blakeney, one of the prettiest villages in England, Cromer, Sea Palling and Great Yarmouth.

The Norfolk Coastal Path, as it’s also known, is often combined with Peddars Way, an inland path it joins at Hunstanton. Together they make a 96-mile inland and coastal walk.

I love walking and hiking, as did my Mum, and we loved trying out different walks in Norfolk whenever we got the opportunity. So, one time when Andy and I found ourselves back in the UK, Mum and I decided to walk the Norfolk Coast Path in stages, starting with a stretch from Hunstanton to Brancaster Staithe.

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Walking the Norfolk Coast Path from Hunstanton to Brancaster Staithe

Walking the Norfolk Coast Path from Hunstanton to Brancaster Staithe was the perfect opportunity for quality mother-daughter time. With Mum sadly passing away less than two years later, this experience left me with some treasured memories.

As I mentioned above, the first stage of our walk was the 7.5-mile stretch from Hunstanton, the most western point of the path, to Brancaster Staithe. It was one of the best days out in Norfolk we’d had for quite some time, and I wanted to share our experience to help you plan your walk.

How to get to Hunstanton

If you plan on just doing one or two day’s walk from Hunstanton and have access to a car you can easily drive to Hunstanton. You can park up (many car parks allow overnight parking) and get the Coasthopper bus back when you finish walking. Alternatively, park further along the coast where your day’s walk ends and Coasthopper it back to your starting point.

Note: From 30th April 2018 the North Norfolk coastal bus service known as Coasthopper changed with the departure of its Stagecoach. The service is now run as a joint venture between Lynx buses who run the service between King’s Lynn and Wells under the ‘Coastliner’ name and Sanders Coaches who run the service between Wells and Cromer under the ‘Coasthopper’ name.

Without a car or if you’re planning to walk for several days it’s better to get to and from Hunstanton via public transport. The closest train station to Hunstanton is Kings Lynn, which is accessible by train from Norwich, Cambridge and Peterborough, and from London with a change at Peterborough. Train tickets are often much cheaper if you book them online in advance via Trainline

Once in Kings Lynn, the number 34, 35 and 36 (Coastliner) buses run from the bus station to Hunstanton every 15 minutes and costs £3.60 one way. The bus station is easy to find just down the road directly opposite the train station.


Red and white cliffs at Hunstanton on the Norfolk Coastal Path.

The Victorian seaside town resort of Hunstanton is well known for its red and white striped cliffs which the town sits behind. A popular holiday destination, especially for domestic tourists, Hunstanton has plenty to do for all ages. There’s the pitch-and-putt, crazy golf, Oasis Leisure Centre and peaceful Esplanade Gardens. There’s also a Horticultural Trail you can follow around the town’s many pretty gardens in the spring and summer.

Beneath the eye-catching cliffs, Hunstanton’s fantastic beach offers perfect conditions for playing or relaxing on the sand, exploring the rock pools, or paddling in the sea. For those brave enough to face the bracing North Sea waters a swim might even be in order.

To the North of Hunstanton is Old Hunstanton which has a quieter village atmosphere than the main resort. With its carstone cottages and traditional British pubs, it has a much slower laid-back feel. You can walk between these two areas of Hunstanton to experience them both.

There’s plenty to see and do to keep you occupied for a day or two at least in Hunstanton. We wished we’d had more time to spend there before starting our walk and if we were to do it again we’d stop over the night before.

Hunstanton to Holme-Next-the-Sea

Wooden Norfolk Coast Path sign, with black engraved writing showing direction and miles to various places. Behind are green gorse and a grey sky.

We started our Norfolk Coast Path walk on the grassy green at the top of Hunstanton cliffs, from where we picked up the path.

It was typical Norfolk weather when we set off; grey and overcast, with a sea mist and slight drizzle. We headed northwards across the green and the eroding cliff top.

Moving on, we passed the Old Lighthouse between Hunstanton and Old Hunston. It’s now a guesthouse and looks like a unique place to spend the night. Despite the grey day, there were several other people about; mostly couples and families, some with dogs. A couple of colourful kites were soaring high in the sky above the beach.

We followed the path alongside a car park and across sand and grass behind the sand dunes and colourful beach huts. The huts were all locked up until high season but still made for some great photos.

The land to the right of the path is leased by a golf course where golfers enjoyed a few rounds as we walked past

We followed the undulating sandy path through the dunes. To our left were dense, spiky clumps of marram grass and choppy sea. Scattered on either side of the path were bright wildflowers, including rare yellow cowslips, yellow and purple wild orchids, white and purple clover, and yellow gorse. So pretty!

After a while, the sandy paths gave way to a more hardcore path, and then onto a boardwalk. The boardwalk took us away from the sea as the estuary and marshland between us got wider. This area is home to many species of birds including waders such as the big white egret we spotted, redshanks and curlews. It’s great for birdwatching and we saw several people out with their binoculars.

A bit further on we came across fields full of cattle and horses to the left. Some of the paths are also used as access to the beach by horse-riders. We bumped into a couple of young girls riding horses, all dressed up in pink outfits ‘just for fun” they told us.

The mist lifted and the weather brightened up a bit just as we reached Holme Nature Reserve, managed by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. There are a variety of coastal habitats there including dunes, salt marsh, grazing marsh and freshwater pools.

Dunne Holme Visitor Centre Building on the Norfolk Coastal Path. Green grass in the foreground and grey sky behind.

The path was firmer here which made the going easier than the previous sandy paths, in some places, there was even a wooden walkway. We then reached Gore Point with its signs reminding people to take care not to disturb birds on the shore and not to damage the 150-year-old sand dunes.

We skirted a short stretch of pine trees and took a right down to the Holme Dunes Visitor centre for a coffee at their picnic tables. The cafe also had a selection of lunch offers, plus other snacks and drinks.

Inside the visitor centre was a small shop and information boards. We had a quick look around and learnt about the 1998 discovery of a well-preserved Bronze Age timber circle, known as ‘Sea Henge’. Uncovered by strong tides, it’s over 4,000 years old; but unfortunately, you can no longer see it at Holme as it was removed for preservation.

Holme-Next-the-Sea to Thornham

As the Norfolk Coast path wound further past Holme-next-the-Sea we walked away from the sand. There were lovely views of fresh-water meadows and salt marshes for miles. We followed the coastline and watched the wading birds that were everywhere. It’s a peaceful spot and when Mum and I stopped our chatter, all we could hear were the birds, the wind and the waves crashing on the shore.

Walking towards Thornham gave us great views of the estuary with its small boats, and sands and water stretching into the distance. The small coastal village of Thornham overlooks the marshes and sea and used to be a smugglers’ haunt and prosperous harbour. It’s now the home to the popular Lifeboat Inn and also has two other pub/ restaurants and a deli. Birdwatchers, walkers, photographers and artists use Thornham as a base to explore the area.

Thornham to Brancaster Staithe

Thornham Church on the Norfolk Coast Path.

Leaving Thornham with the beautiful church on our left we trudged on towards Brancaster Staithe. This part was nowhere near as interesting as it had been up until Thornham, the initial walk up a slight incline along a small tarmac lane was pretty dull. When we stopped for a rest, however, we were treated to some great views over Thornham, the marshes, and the sea.

After about a mile we turned left at a waymarker to follow a track through the countryside. We passed through intensively farmed, open fields (real Norfolk countryside) until we reached a barn with a few birdwatchers hanging around.  

The track continued on for a couple of miles until we turned a corner and found ourselves facing the sea once again. We wandered down the track towards Brancaster until we arrived at a crossroads with the village church directly ahead.

Crossing the road we passed the church and turned a sharp right onto a path leading behind the salt marsh. Luckily most of the path from that point was a raised boardwalk, otherwise, we’d have gotten very wet feet.

The final stretch along boardwalks to Brancaster Staithe Harbour, had views over the dunes and to Brancaster golf course. We stopped at Branodunum Roman Fort, but there wasn’t much to see because the fort was long gone leaving behind just a field of wildflowers and an information board. Hungry and tired we hurried on towards Brancaster Staithe.

Brancaster Staithe

Brancaster Staithe in Norfolk, England. Image of fishing boats in the harbour.

Finally, we reached the working fishing village of Brancaster Staithe. We had a quick look around the bustling harbour which is also home to Brancaster Staithe Sailing Club, it was full of lobster pots, fishing nets and fishing boats.

Brancaster Staithe is famous for its shellfish, especially oysters and many local families still make their living from fishing. They sell their catch from shops and stalls at the harbour and on the main road.

Lots was going on and there was lots to see, the perfect end to the first stage of our Norfolk Coast Path walk.

Where to Stay in Brancaster Staithe

Not far from Brancaster Staithe Harbour is The White Horse Inn, a family-run hotel, restaurant and pub, who kindly hosted us for one night on our Norfolk Coastal Path walk.

The White Horse Inn

The White Horse in Brancaster Staithe, Norfolk, England

The White Horse is ideally situated overlooking the beautiful salt marshes and coastline of the North Norfolk coast.

It was bought as a rundown pub in 1994 by current owners the Nye family, by 1999 The White Horse had been extended and renovated. It now sports 15 bedrooms, a conservatory restaurant with a gorgeous terrace and dining area.

The spacious en-suite rooms are all tastefully decorated in a contemporary style with colours that evoke images of coastal scenes. In high season from April to October prices for mid-week bed and breakfast range from £160 per night for a small double or twin up to £250 per night for the ‘Room at the Top’ (more about that later)! For weekends add on an extra £10 per night. There are also some dinner, bed and breakfast packages and in low season prices drop – you can check all this in more detail on the website. 

The reception is in the front of the hotel and is reached via a sunken garden and sheltered, heated seating area. In our worn-out and dishevelled state, we were very happy to be warmly welcomed by the reception staff and checked into our room so quickly. The icing on the cake was to discover we’d been allocated the ‘Room at the Top’ – what a treat! 

Room at The Top at The White Horse in Brancaster Staithe.

The ‘Room at the Top’ was one of a kind and we consider ourselves extremely lucky to get the chance to stay in it. It’s a split-level room with a gable end and viewing balcony offering spectacular panoramic views out over the marshes and coastline.

The big, bright, airy room decorated in blues, whites and natural wood had a comfy kingsize bed with a cosy duvet, pillows and cushions. Near the windows opening onto the balcony was a sofa offering the perfect stop for gazing out the window if it’s a bit chilly to stand outside.

On the lower level was a bathroom with a big bath, separate shower, toilet, wash basin and lovely complimentary toiletries. The room also had everything else we needed for a fantastic, relaxing stay. There was a wide screen TV, WiFi, dressing table, chest of drawers, tea and coffee making facilities (even a Nespresso machine and biscuits) and fluffy bathrobes.

The award-winning restaurant overlooks the expansive marshes. On a clear day it’s the ideal place to enjoy an early evening drink as you watch the sunset on the horizon. Showcasing the catch of local fishermen and other locally sourced ingredients the menu at the White Horse Inn is mouthwatering. We were spoilt for choice.

We chose to eat in the bar to the left of the reception just as you enter the inn, you can select from the same menu as in the restaurant, which is great. I was sorely tempted to try the oysters but in the end, we both decided to skip starters. We both went straight in with a main of juicy, perfectly cooked rump steak, chunky chips, salad and a side of onion rings. It was so good, just what we needed after our long day of walking. We loved the buzzing friendly atmosphere in the bar, it was inclusive and welcoming to everyone.

Breakfast in the restaurant was also excellent. There was a continental buffet of cereals, fruits and yoghurt and the option to select a hot item off the menu. We both went for the smoked haddock benedict, which was delicious, along with a couple of coffees to set us up for the rest of the day. 

We loved our stay at White Horse Inn in Brancaster Staithe. It’s a real gem and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who wants to spoil themselves on the North Norfolk Coast. They also put on different events in the summer months such as a Seafood Fest and a Lobster BBQ, yum, very tempting.

Other Accommodation Between Hunstanton and Brancaster

There’s a wide range of accommodations between Hunstanton and Brancaster on the Norfolk Coast including bed and breakfasts, guest houses, inns, hostels, self-catering and camping.


We did our walk independently (and will for the other stages) but you can do it as part of a guided group tour. Tour agencies such as Explore Norfolk UK offer a variety of itineraries of different lengths, routes and prices. If you want to do the whole route independently but don’t fancy carrying heavy bags you can arrange baggage transfer with HikeHelp and Move My Bags.

Mum and I thoroughly enjoyed walking the Norfolk Coast Path from Hunstanton to Brancaster Staithe section. And, that’s the beauty of the Norfolk Coast path, is that you can do as little or as much as you want.

I wish we’d had the chance to return to complete more of it together, but I shall complete the rest in Mum’s memory.

Have you walked the Hunstanton to Branaster stretch of the Norfolk Coast Path, a different stretch or maybe the whole path? Tell us about it in the comments.

Planning Your Walk on the Norfolk Coast Path?

Planning your walk on the Norfolk Coast Path? Here are some of our recommended useful resources to help you have the best time possible.

TRAVEL INSURANCE IS AN IMPORTANT CONSIDERATION! World Nomads offers cover for travellers in over 100 countries and True Traveller is a great option if you’re from the UK or EU.

SafetyWing is another solution, particularly for digital nomads and long-term travellers.

● Use Wise (formerly Transferwise) for sending or receiving money internationally. It’s cheap, easy and transparent.

● Find amazing flight deals on Skyscanner and Kayak.

● Compare rental car prices on Rentalcars.com.

You can book train, bus and other ground transportation with Trainline, 12Go and Bookaway.

● Booking.com usually have the best hotel prices.

● Our go-to for self-catering accommodation is Vrbo.

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Partnership Disclosure: The White Horse Inn provided us with a complimentary one-night stay with breakfast. This did not influence my post in any way and as always I’ve provided a balanced and honest review. Read more in our full Partnership Disclosure.

Tanya Korteling

Tanya is the founder and head content creator for Can Travel Will Travel. She combines freelance SEO, CRO, Data and Marketing consultancy with exploring the world. Passionate about adventure, nature, wildlife and food, she incorporates these in her travels as much as possible. She also loves immersing herself in new cultures. She's visited hundreds of destinations in 50+ countries and lived in 4 countries. Tanya worked as a Data Planning Manager and Digital Marketing Strategist before leaving the UK in 2016 with her husband Andy, to travel, live and work abroad indefinitely. Together they share their experiences and useful information to inspire and encourage others to do the same.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Carrie Ann

    This looks like such a nice walk you took with your mum! I grew up by the ocean and I really miss taking long hikes in the sea air. Your “room at the top” looks so cozy, and I bet the view was amazing!

    1. TanyaKorteling

      It was, a bit chilly but still great to get out and about! Yes the view from our room was fantastic 😀

  2. OurFour Suitcases

    What a lovely post! I love that you did this with your mother. It sounds like you had a good time and great food. The descriptions of the great food you enjoyed were mouth watering!

    1. TanyaKorteling

      Thank you – yes it was a lovely time!

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