Project Description


While predominantly an area of freshwater, the Broads National Park extends to the coast at Horsey, providing an opportunity for an undemanding walk around this intriguing area, viewing the only community of seals living in the Norfolk Broads!

Our suggestions will take you to Horsey, the site of several extensive flooding episodes in the twentieth century, for a circular walk of approximately 8 miles around the varied landscape of the area; the opportunity to view the large community of seals living along this part of the coast; a climb up Horsey Mill providing striking views over Horsey Mere; lunch at a traditional Norfolk pub; followed by an afternoon visit to Waxham Barn, a restored barn now housing a museum of local life.

Start: Nelson Head public house, Horsey
Ordnance Survey Explorer map OL40; grid reference TG462228
SatNav postcode NR29 4AD
  • We’ve given a basic route below but a good map is useful, ideally the Ordnance Survey Explorer OL40.
  • Walking boots are recommended, particularly when the ground is wet under foot as parts of the route can be muddy. This can make the walk unsuitable for buggies/very young children.
  • You stand a much better chance of seeing the seals between November and April, when there are fewer people around
  • If you take your dog, please keep him/her on a lead as you approach the seals on the beach and try not to get too close as the seals are easily disturbed.
  • The windpump and tearoom are open from March to October, although times vary throughout the season. There is a small charge for entry to the windpump. For more information see the National Trust website.

Horsey Windpump is currently undergoing phase one of an exciting and ambitious three phase restoration project that will see her restored to full operational order. Keep up to date with the latest news and updates from the project at The National Trust website

For a low cost option why not take a picnic? Walk around the end of the staithe at Horsey, by the Mill, and follow the path along the dyke towards the Mere where there are bench seats and great views across the Mere as you munch your lunch!
  • Traditional country pub with a warm welcome and large open fire when it’s cold, huge beer garden for when it’s warm.
  • Child Friendly and Dog Friendly, well behaved ones, on a lead and in the bar only please (the dogs that is…)
There are toilet facilities at Horsey Windpump and customer toilets at the Nelson Head pub

Our recommended itinerary is as follows:

• Drive to Horsey, signposted off the A149 from either Martham or Stalham and park near to the Nelson Head public house (A)

• Keeping the pub on your left, walk east towards the sea, following the track until you reach the dunes, before turning left (B)

Optional seal watching detour: if you have plenty of time, you could walk onto the beach, turn right and walk for up to a mile, where you might be lucky enough to spot some of the seals that live along this part of the coast. (C)

• Having turned left, continue for three quarters of a mile behind the dunes, keeping an eye out for marsh harriers and other smaller birds of prey, until you reach a National Trust car park

• Turn left here (D), following the rough track back to the road, turn right onto the road for a short distance, before turning left onto a footpath between two fields (E). At the field break, turn right across another field, and at the unmade road, turn right and then immediately left between the houses

• Follow the path around the field edge and along the dyke to a ruined mill. Turn left along the stream and follow this path around the edge of Horsey Mere, one of the very few expanses of water in the Broads owned by the National Trust

• The path will lead you to Horsey Windpump (Marked on Map), which is well worth a visit for the view from the top and the display of historic photographs of the local area. There is also a small friendly café here, selling teas and snacks, including toasted teacakes and bacon rolls

• Acquired by the National Trust in 1948 from the Buxton family, who continue to manage the Horsey Estate, the 5-storey windpump has been fully restored and now also has a wheelchairaccessible nature garden, with raised ponds for pond-dipping

• Opposite the entrance to the car park is a permissive footpath which will lead you back to the Nelson Head, a traditional Norfolk pub. There are no fruit machines, a roaring real fire in the colder months, and children are welcome in the attractive family room. It serves local Woodforde’s ales and homemade food

• After lunch, why not continue a little way up the road to visit Waxham Barn, a recently renovated barn converted to a museum of rural Norfolk life. It also houses a café if you are still in need of refreshment

Young Family Option

The walk can feel quite long for younger children, so to shorten the trip, try just walking down to the beach and along to spot some seals. You could take a picnic along and eat your lunch in the dunes overlooking the seals, before returning to Horsey to explore the windpump.


Half of the world's population of the grey seal is found on or around the British coast and it has doubled in number since 1960.


They mainly feed on fish, but will also take squid, octopus and crustaceans. Grey seals come ashore to breed and can be found around the coastline between Waxham and Winterton-on-Sea.