Horsey Windpump – National Trust

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Family including children under 16

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Norfolk has so many beautiful beaches, we are spoilt for choice. Our particular favourite is on the north east coast. Stop off at Horsey Mill – a beautiful landmark – where you can see and climb a National Trust treasure: a drainage mill which in the past pumped water off the land used for crops and livestock. Currently the sails are being restored, having blown off in last winter's gales, but still a real gem. There's a friendly cafe and gift shop where you can have refreshments whilst deciding which of the tempting nearby attractions you want to visit. They list the recently seen wildlife including European cranes and otters. Look out for the swallows nesting above your head. A short walk along the staithe where boats regularly moor will bring you to Horsey Mere – a good way to glimpse at Norfolk Broad with the option of a short boat trip in season. Our favourite pub – the Nelson Head – is a short drive (or slightly longer walk) from the Mill car park. You will be well received – good food and ales – and from there can walk 2 km down a flat stony path to the fine sandy beach. Well-known by locals, there are seals in their hundreds most of the year, lolling on the beach and happy for you to approach as long as you don't get too near – specially in January when the pups are born. Occasionally they flip off somewhere else in search of fish, but we were lucky. On a fine sunny day in August, they were happy to surf the waves with as many swimmers who ventured in, popping up all round as if they wanted to play. The water was surprisingly warm. From there you have miles of sandy beach in either direction with space for everyone. Those who want to park closer to the beach can go a little further to Horsey Gap with its car park near the sea. Difficult to push a wheelchair on the sand, it's sadly not suitable for the disabled so look for the town beaches with better access. At any time of year, it's a special and truly exhilarating space for those who want the rolling surf and freedom to wander.

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