A lunar eclipse, paddling with seals and a night on an island
The beaches between Blakeney Point and Holkham in Norfolk are broad and stunning.
At low tide they stretch to the horizon, and when we visited they were completely empty and untouched, potentially because they can only be reached by hiking through salt marshes that flood rapidly when the tide turns.
This makes them dangerous to all except locals with an intimate knowledge of the tides and shifting creeks and paths or those with packrafts and a carefully laid plan.
Over two days, we paddled and hiked in a large loop covering approximately 20km. We left our car at Stiffkey car park and after a short walk came to Cabbage Creek, where we inflated our packrafts and caught an ebb tide out towards Blakeney Point. Here we paddled with seals and then played in the surf. We then paddled and hiked along broad empty beaches until we came to an island, where we stayed the night, slung in hammocks between trees.
As we rose in the early hours of the morning, a rare lunar eclipse disturbed the wildlife, setting off a chorus of bird calls across the marshes. In this moonless dark, we caught the flood tide into Wells-next-the-Sea. Then as dawn began to break, we hiked back along the edge of the Wells and Warham salt marshes to our car.
We’ll definitely be coming back to this stretch of the North Norfolk coast to explore more!
Charts - Admiralty Charts, OS Maps and even the satellite images on Google don’t reflect the channels and paths which shift regularly.
Seals - Please take care not to disturb the seals. Keep quiet and keep your distance. If they are interested they’ll come to you. Local companies take tourists out to see the seals on scheduled boat tours and there are anecdotal tales of the skippers of these boats getting irate with kayakers. If you do want to paddle this area, I’d advise avoiding the the scheduled tours times and sticking to the guidance contained here and here. Large tracts of these salt marshes are SSSI so again please be mindful of your impact.
Safety - As always please do your own research, ensure you have suitable experience and equipment and be particularly aware of the tides, which can flood faster than you can run.