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As far as hiking in the UK is concerned, there really is nowhere else quite like Norfolk. Walks around Norfolk place you under huge skies with distant horizons, into the magical water-land of the Broads and onto a gorgeous coastline where wildlife thrives in the skies, on the land and in the sea.
The sheer variety at your fingertips is enticing. In the east, the beguiling Norfolk Broads offer unique adventures amongst the tangled woodland and feathery reeds that line the incredible complex of rivers, lakes and meres. The Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) wraps around the northern coastline: a beautiful, historic stretch of beaches and cliffs thronged with birdlife.Any time of year is spectacular for hikes around Norfolk. Winter brings thousands upon thousands of migrating birds to the mudflats of the coast, a mesmeric sight when silhouetted against the setting sun. Meanwhile, the warmer months bring a riot of colour to the forests, heathland and beautiful countryside.
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For many hikers, the unique draw of the Norfolk Broads is irresistible. Benefiting from the same protections afforded to a national park, the Broads are a network of navigable rivers and lakes formed by the flooding of peat workings. Many of the best hiking trails in Norfolk explore this verdant labyrinth of gentle waterways. Sprawling over 117 square miles (303 km2), there are almost endless trails and byways for you to range across this sparkling landscape.
The Broads teem with life. Amble along the water’s edge, watching barges and yachts navigate the calm channels alongside graceful swans and buzzing insects. There are encounters with nature at every turn; marsh harriers and kingfishers are a common sight. Charming windmills and watermills are characteristic of the region, forming quaint backdrops for your photos.
The county boasts 90 miles (145 km) of unspoilt coastline, so it is no wonder there are some incredible coastal walks around Norfolk. Norfolk Coast AONB stretches from the iconic striped cliffs of Hunstanton in the west to Horsey in the east, where seals come ashore to breed in winter. If you like dazzling displays of wildlife whilst you hike, this is the place for you.
This is a dynamic coastline. Migrating birds from as far as Greenland and Siberia flock to the region through the winter, whilst each season brings new inhabitants. The land itself is constantly reshaped by the relentless rhythm of the tides and the coming of the occasional storm. Regardless of the time of year, the AONB is an incredible place to hike and repeat visits are never the same.
There are so many more options for fantastic hikes around Norfolk. The desolate beauty of the Wash, England’s largest bay, offers yet more fantastic birdlife. Ensure you stick to footpaths in this region, as the tidal marshes can be dangerous. A hinterland of rolling countryside awaits inland, where Norfolk’s thriving market towns, country lanes and forests of native conifer promise many delightful rambles. Come summer, fields of lavender, blossoming wildflowers and massive horizons make this a stupendous place to roam.
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