things to see & do
(photos by http://www.tournorfolk.co.uk )
For a small coastal village, Cley offers a great choice of independently run shops and galleries. There are delightful local souvenirs and keepsakes to be found in the Cley Windmill shop, and tucked behind the High Street is the newly opened Artemis Antiques, where you can browse carefully sourced furniture, objets d'art and homeware. You'll find interesting vintage books, as well as maps and newly published books on the surrounding areas, at the Crabpot bookshop on the High Street, and you'll arrive at foodie heaven in the delightful Picnic Fayre deli, housed in the Old Cley Forge. More delicacies are on offer at the Cley Smokehouse, where their famous kippers are smoked daily on site, as well as a variety of other fish and seafood.
Cley shingle beach is a great place for watching the breaking waves of the wild North Sea. It is not as shallow as many other Norfolk beaches, which makes it a wonderful place for a refreshing swim when the weather is calm, and it is also suitable for on-shore sea fishing. Cley beach is the access point for walks out to Blakeney Point, where you're likely to find perfect solitude, as well as deserted sandy beaches beaches at low tide, rare bird reserves and one of Britain's largest seal colonies! (See 'seal spotting' below). The beach at Cley can be accessed via Beach Road by car or by walking along one of the footpaths over the marshes. There is parking at the beach car park.
(photos by http://www.tournorfolk.co.uk )
Bring your binoculars and visit the NWT Cley Marshes Nature Reserve - unofficially known as the bird watching Mecca of the UK! This stunning area has just been nominated for Nature Reserve of the Year in BBC Countryfile Magazine's Awards, and is positively teeming with wildlife.
The recently completed, eco friendly visitors' centre includes the fantastic Simon Aspinall Wildlife Education Centre, a courtyard and viewing deck with breathtaking views across the marshes, and an excellent cafe offering the opportunity to watch Spoonbills in the reeds whilst sipping tea by the panorama viewing window.. Committed 'birders' can buy day passes for the nature reserve hides, or walk through the reeds for even more up-close wildlife encounters!
Starting from Cley, there is a great a network of paths, crossing over creeks and marshes that head towards the sea. The walk over the marshes is superb and you get fabulous views back towards Cley village and Windmill.
This network is linked with the Norfolk Coast Path, which runs 45 miles from Hunstanton to Cromer, with Cley being one of favourite stopovers for walking holidays along the beautiful North Norfolk coast - but for guests looking for local walks, there are plenty of shorter, circular routes starting in Cley and incorporating some lovely places to linger along the way. Popular routes are the Cley to Blakeney village walk (2.5 miles), the Cley to Salthouse route (3 miles) and the Cley to Wiveton walk via Glandford (4.7 miles). OS Maps available to borrow by request, and we are very happy to point out places to pause for refreshments along the way! Or look up these links for some ideas to get you started:
If you’re coming to Norfolk to experience the natural world, seeing the seals in their natural habitat is a must. The best place to access the seal colonies by foot is from Cley beach, following the 4 mile-long (6.4km) shingle spit to the sand dunes of a magical place - Blakeney Point. This can be a challenging trudge across unforgiving shingle - but if you time your walk for when the tide is low, you will have access to firm sand for much of the way, making it possible to reach the Point in around 1 hr 20 minutes. The seal colony at Blakeney Point is made up of Common and Grey seals and in the Winter of 2014/15 became the biggest colony in England. Read more at :
The splendid St Margaret’s Church of Cley was built in the 14th and 15th centuries. It is an ornate church of almost cathedral-like proportions - a reflection of the wealth of Cley in its time as a medieval port. It stands on an elevated site, offering breathtaking views across the Glaven Valley to Wiveton Church and Blakeney Church - both equally fine examples of medieval architecture, all within walking distance of each other. In the Middle Ages the valley between Cley and Wiveton was navigable water, used by coastal and foreign craft and bringing considerable wealth to the area.
A visit to Cley would be incomplete without a visit to see the iconic windmill, built c.1819. Standing five storeys tall, and twenty feet above ground, it is a well loved landmark, and one of the most photographed buildings of North Norfolk. It was a functioning mill until 1921, when it was converted to a holiday home, and it is now a guesthouse, wedding venue and cafe.