Day 1 - The Norfolk Coastal Footpath
The Norfolk Coastal Footpath runs along the north Norfolk coast from Hunstanton to Cromer. Along the way there are many pubs, some famous for food, some famous for beer, others famous for both. A good place to start the walk is from Burnham Deepdale, then take the coastal footpath west towards Hunstanton. Follow the footpath along the front of Burnham Deepdale and Brancaster Staithe, passing mussel beds, some very expensive houses and salt marsh.
When you reach the cockle sheds of Brancaster Staithe you have your first stop, The Jolly Sailors. This pub brews its own beer – a traditional Indian Pale Ale and a stronger brew called ‘Old Les’ (named after an old character of the village). In the winter the seafood, especially the mussels in white wine sauce are superb.
After the Jolly Sailor go back down the track and turn left, which takes you past the sailing club. Cross the lane and walk down the little path. This brings you onto a board walk, with reed beds and salt marsh on your right. This path takes you into Brancaster where you turn left up the road and then first right down the lane which takes you to the next part of the footpath. You can choose to visit Brancaster Beach at this point or head slightly inland to follow the path to Titchwell and then continue to Thornham. The path is inland of Titchwell, giving superb views across the salt marshes and beaches of this stretch of coast.
In Thornham The Lifeboat Inn, The Orange Tree and The Old Coach House are all good for eating but The Lifeboat is the best place for beer. They still have old gas lamps in the bar and, like many pubs, will have a roaring wood fire during the winter.
The walk from Thornham takes you to Holme-next-the-Sea. This section of the walk is along the beach and is hard going, but well worth the effort. The end of your walk is in Holme, where the White Horse offers an excellent range of beers and food. You can catch the Coasthopper bus back to Burnham Deepdale from Holme.
Day 2 - More pubs!
Head east on the coastal footpath, along the seawall to Burnham Overy Staithe where you’ll pass salt marshes at the start of the Holkham Nature Reserve and the Burnham Overy Windmill. In Burnham Overy Staithe the Staithe (harbour) is worth seeing as it is very picturesque, with lovely old buildings and many sailing boats.
From here walk to Burnham Market, via Burnham Overy Town. In Burnham Market you have two pubs – The Lord Nelson in the east of the village and the Hoste Arms which is on the green. Both are good for beer and food.
To return to Deepdale you can take the bus from the centre of Burnham Market or take one of the stewardship walks back through the fields. Alternatively, you can carry on to the Lord Nelson in Burnham Thorpe, which is to the east. You may be wondering why the pubs are named after Admiral Lord Nelson – the reason is he was born in Burnham Thorpe. There isn’t much to see there except for a blue plaque, but the pub is well worth a visit. Until recently it didn’t have a bar, with all drinks served at your table by a slightly grumpy landlord. Now the staff are much friendly and there is a bar. Watch out for Nelson’s blood, a deadly drink which has a relationship to rum somewhere along the line. They also have a range of Nelson beers which should definitely be tried. The bus doesn’t connect to Burnham Thorpe so if you drink too much you’ll have to invest in a taxi.
If you can still walk you will want to head back to Burnham Market to catch the bus or for the keen walkers keep walking east to the Holkham Estate. It’s a pretty long walk, but well worth it to walk through the walled estate past the Hall and down to Holkham village. You’ll get a chance to see the follies built by the Earls of Leicester and the deer in the park. The prize for the walk is the Victoria at Holkham on the main road in Holkham. It offers excellent beer and food, including pheasant and venison from the estate. There is also a tea room at the Hall and in the main village a café.
Most places mentioned are accessible by bus for those less keen to walk miles.
Buses don’t tend to run much after 5pm, sometimes earlier. You can catch taxis, but if you have decided to settle in at a pub for the evening it is worth booking a taxi early on, as if it’s a quiet night they may well go to bed and not be available.