- Run along the sandy beach and take a dip in the sea!
- Spot the grey seals at Horsey Beach, who come ashore twice a year to mate and have their pups.
- Learn about the Horsey Windpump and its significance in local history.
- Head on a circular National Trust walk around the area and take in the breath-taking views.
Located just 10 miles from the coastal town of Great Yarmouth on Norfolk's east coast, the sandy expanse of Horsey Beach is a hidden gem. While kids might get excited by the name, you're not likely to see a beach full of horses here. However, there is a much better chance of you catching a glimpse of one of the famous Horsey seals, who call the beach home.
These grey seals, also known as the Horsey seals, come to the beach to mate and give birth, depending on the time of year. You won't miss them if they're there, as they are known to be noisy. During the winter months (November to January), these adorable mammals come ashore and can be viewed from nearby. Pregnant mother seals will come to the beach and will normally give birth within a few hours. The pup will then stay with their mother for around six weeks, and until it has grown it's new fur it won't be waterproof, so can't go in the water. With some of these grey seals reaching up to 230cm long for an adult male, they are larger than Harbour seals, and a safe distance should be kept from them. If you happen to come during birthing season, you might be lucky enough to see a little fluffy pup. This is the time when the seals are most protective of their young, so make sure to respect your distance and make sure any dogs are on a close leash. While these seals might look cuddly and cute, they are sea creatures and do smell quite a lot! Horsey Beach is remarkable for several reasons, one of them being the fact that the only grey seal twins in recorded existence were born in 2016 (amongst 1000 other pups!). If you happen to be visiting in the spring, you might also catch the seals doing their big annual moult, where they shed their fur to reveal new shiny coats. Plus, if you aren't able to come in the winter that doesn't mean you won't see any seals! These friendly animals like to swim around the area, so watch out for them playing amongst the waves. And, sometimes they will even join you on the beach for some sunbathing!
However, looking at the seals isn't the only thing there is to do at Horsey Beach. The large expanse of the beach and the quiet location mean that it's rare to see crowds here, so it's the perfect place to come for a blustery winter walk or a relaxed picnic in the sun. Dogs are welcome, and this big beach is the perfect place for them to run around with the kids. The soft sand makes this a great paddling spot, and don't forget to bring that bucket and spade.
Horsey Windpump is just around the corner, which was restored by the National Trust in 1990 after suffering weather damage over the years. This historic building was built at the beginning of the 20th century and was used to harness the power of the wind to pump water. With its distinctive windmill shape and prominent position over the harbour area, Horsey Windpump is certainly worth checking out on your visit to Horsey Beach. There are several great circular walks you can do in the area, with the three-mile Horsey Windpump and Beach walk being very popular with families. This gentle walk takes you from Horsey Gap car park across the marshes and the sand dunes of the beach, to get a true sense of the beautiful local landscape. Or, the slightly longer Horsey Beach and Village walk will take you again from Horsey Gap car park, into the local village of Horsey where you can explore the church and return to the Horsey Windpump. Both of these walks are available on the National Trust website, or you can have a wander down the beach itself!
If you fancy venturing a little further afield, take a coastal drive a few miles south to the town of Great Yarmouth. On the way, you'll pass some great spots, such as the seaside village resort of Hemsby, and more beautiful beaches at Caister-on-Sea. Known for its history as a traditional seaside town, Great Yarmouth is a great place to visit after you've spent some time on the dunes at Horsey Beach. As well as being home to even more beach, you can find some brilliant hidden gems in this little town. From the Time and Tide Museum, where you can learn all about the history of the local area and what it was like to live here in times gone by, to the famous Merrivale Model Village that kids and adults are both bound to love, you're sure to find something exciting to do in this town.
Once you've explored the area, you might just be hankering for something to eat or a hot drink. Poppylands 1940's Tearoom is located just by the beach on Waxham Road. Here you'll find everything from cups of coffee to tasty fish finger sandwiches, perfect for a day out with the kids. Another popular idea is to bring along your very own picnic to enjoy on the beach if the weather suits. The Nelson Head pub, located nearby in the village of Horsey, is within walking distance and is the place to go for hearty pub food including proper fish and chips. Alternatively, there are many great places to eat if you choose to head to Great Yarmouth. The seaside location means it's got some amazing seafood, as well as other locally sourced food. For a restaurant feel, The Courtyard on Howard Street South has delicious food and great service (and it's close by to the National Trust Elizabethan House Museum for some extra learning!). The aptly named The Shed on Quay Road is also a popular destination- although it is tiny, it has some of the best fresh seafood available.
If you and your family had a fantastic time seal spotting, swimming and exploring at Horsey Beach, check out the brilliant Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach for your next outing to the area. With roller coasters, rides, and much more to explore, this is a great destination just a few miles south of the beach. Or, adventure seekers can discover life-sized dinosaurs on a thrilling day out to the Dinosaur Adventure Park in Lenwade, Norwich.
What to know before you go
- Horsey Beach itself is open at all times of the day. Poppylands Tearoom is open from 10am-4pm from Wednesday-Monday. The Horsey Windpump is open from 10am-4:30pm from 24 March-28 October.
- There aren't any toilet facilities or baby changing available on the beach itself. There are, however, toilets at Horsey Mill, and for customers of Poppylands and Nelson Head.
- There is no access to Horsey Beach in the winter months, but you can visit the viewing platform to see the seals.
- In winter the paths towards the viewing area for the seals may have puddles or be uneven, and may not be suitable for wheelchair users or buggies.
- Be aware of keeping a distance from the seals if they are on the beach, and take special caution if there are pups and mothers presence as any distress can be highly detrimental to them.
- If you choose to bring a frisbee to the beach, try not to use a flying ring as, if lost, these can become caught around the neck of the seals.
- If travelling by car, head to Horsey Gap Beach Car Park. You can get here via Waxham Road from the north and Horsey Road from the south.
- Please note that Horsey Gap is not a National Trust car park, and is pay and display. Parking is available for patrons of Poppylands Café, as well as of Nelson Head pub in Horsey.
- If travelling by public transport, travel to Sea Palling. From here it is a 2.5-mile walk to Horsey Gap.