On the East of England’s 500 miles of coast there are many stunning landscapes and seashores, many of them maintained by the National Trust. We choose our top ten…
Blakeney National Nature Reserve
Blakeney Point is a 6.4km spit of shingle and sand on the north Norfolk coast, famous for being the home of England’s largest seal colony, particularly in the Winter when the Grey seals pup. Common seals pup between June and August.
The best way to see them in their natural surroundings is by taking a boat from Morston Quay or Blakeney Quay.
The coast at Brancaster features one of the best beaches in the East of England, with views to Scolt Head Island.
If you thought the National Trust was just about cream teas in stately homes then head to the Brancaster outdoor activity and learning centre in north Norfolk.
Day and residential visits are available to learn how to sail or kayak and lots of other activities.
The personal favourite of its designer, Humphry Repton, Sheringham Park is 1000 acres of woodland, parkland and cliff top to explore. A climb to the top of the tower will reward you with a spectacular view along the coast to Blakeney Point.
And if you’re there in Spring you’ll get to enjoy the vast collection of rhododendrons and azaleas.
Well-behaved dogs are welcome.
West Runton and Beeston Regis Heath
The highlight at West Runton and Beeston Regis Heath is, quite literally, to climb to the top of Beeston Bump – yes, a hill in Norfolk! It was created at the end of the last Ice Age and sits on the Cromer Ridge, the highest point in the East of England.
This is a perfect location for a breezy walk, enjoying the sun on the heaths and the views of Sheringham and coastal villages.
There’s a reminder at the top that Beeston Hill was used as a Y Station, a secret listening station, during the second world war – it fed information to Bletchley Park, famous for its work breaking the Enigma Code.
Situated a little inland on Norfolk’s east coast, Horsey Windpump stands sentinel over the surrounding Broads National Park. Climb to the top, which has a new winding cap and turning sails, and you’ll get wonderful panoramic views of the countryside.
This is where the Broads meets the coast and there’s plenty of wildlife to enjoy, particularly over-wintering wildfowl on Horsey Mere.
Dunwich Heath and Beach
Situated with the Suffolk Coast and Heath Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Dunwich Heath is a unique environment where you might see Dartford warblers, nightjar, woodlark, ant-lion, adders and red deer.
There’s a café and toilets at the shingle beach. Just think – this site was once one of the largest medieval ports in England.
Nearby is RSPB Minsmere, which hosted BBC’s Springwatch for many years.
Orford Ness National Nature Reserve
Take a short boat trip from Orford in Suffolk to Orford Ness, a once-secret location – home for more than 80 years to British Military research and testing. For a while it was the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment.
Today, this remote, wild and eerie shingle spit, the largest in Europe, is a natural landscape like no other.
Enjoy wonderful views of the River Orwell at Pin Mill, Suffolk while you’re exploring heathland, wooded cliffs and foreshore and the river valley.
After a bracing walk, head to the Butt and Oyster pub for a refreshing drink or meal.
Flatford is set in the beautiful Dedham Vale, deep in Constable Country where the famous painter sought inspiration.
Wander along the River Stour and take in the mill and Willy Lott’s House and you can imagine you might actually be in one of his paintings.
In the riverside tearoom enjoy the exhibition ‘Constable at Flatford’.
Cut off at high tide, Northey Island in the Blackwater Estuary near Maldon in Essex is a tranquil haven for wildlife, reached by a causeway – an exhilarating experience in itself.
Northey is the oldest recorded battlefield in Britain, from AD991, when Viking raiders used the island as a base.
In Winter the pastureland is home to more than 5,000 Brent Geese, as well as Redshank and Plover.