Nature and wildlife

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Seals at Horsey, Norfolk

Miles of coastal paths and nature trails offer the chance to get up close-and-personal with wildlife.

Seal-watching is a must in Lincolnshire and Norfolk, while bird-watchers and twitchers are spoilt for choice with the wealth of nature reserves spread across this special coastline.

Ideas for a 3-day itinerary
in East Yorkshire, Lincolnshire
and Norfolk
Day 1

Hull is the 2017 UK City of Culture, so has many exciting activities taking place this year. To relax on your first day, visit the award winning aquarium at The Deep, with its new penguin exhibit. Enjoy lunch in Hull.

If you want to get straight to the adventure, head to the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust's Spurn Point (1 hour) to explore a location like nowhere else on the East Coast. Try a 4x4 'Spurn Safari' or explore the sand dunes and beaches on foot - please follow the tide guidelines - or visit the 128ft (30 metre) high lighthouse. This is one of the UK's most exciting bird migration areas during spring and autumn, but also has nesting avocets and little terns.

Stay in cosmopolitan Hull or historic Beverley, both offering fantastic food.

Day 2

Highlights of today include two exceptional wildlife reserves in East Lincolnshire.  Gibraltar Point, near Skegness, a dynamic stretch of unspoilt coastline is home to a huge variety of birds and other wildlife.  In the autumn don’t miss the Donna Nook Nature Reserve – a perfect place to view seals with their pups. Lincolnshire’s coastal and rural villages such as Tetney, Louth and Mablethorpe offer a variety of places to stay. 

Day 3

Heading south, explore the nature reserves along the Norfolk coast. Cley Marshes, near the village of Blakeney, is the Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s best known reserve, offering amazing views from its visitor centre. Holkham National Nature Reserve is known for its panoramic beach and pinewoods. Be sure to visit the Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary,  Norfolk's only seal sanctuary open to visitors and, time permitting, take a sea safari aboard a ‘Wash Monster’ with Searles Sea Tours.

Hunstanton Sea Life, Norfolk
Ideas for a 5-day itinerary
in Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk
Day 1

The Stena Line ferry to Harwich arrives early in the morning so start your day with breakfast in the historic town.  Begin your wildlife experience at Fingringhoe Wick – a nature reserve and visitor centre run by Essex Wildlife Trust, set in a spectacular position overlooking the Colne Estuary. This is a fantastic spot to view birds in a wide range of habitats.  You could go on to Abberton Reservoir from here for more spectacular bird watching – or make your way to Walton-on-the-Naze for a trip out to see the seals.  Spend the night at Walton or nearby on the Essex coast. 

Day 2

The focus for today is the nature reserves of Suffolk starting with RSPB Minsmere (well-known from the BBC’s Springwatch programme).  Here you can see and hear different wildlife throughout the day but it’s early in the morning when it’s at its best and when you’ll experience the dawn chorus! And if you’re lucky, you’ll catch the otters splashing in the mere.  There are a huge variety of birds, insects, deer and other wildlife to be seen. Guided walks are available. You might also try Dunwich Heath reserve or Thorpeness.   Spend the night in pretty Southwold or nearby Walberswick.

Day 3

Spend the day discovering the unique Broads National Park, the largest protected wetland and third largest inland waterway in the country which is home to more than a quarter of the rarest plants and animals in the UK. Look out for teal and wigeon, reed and sedge warblers as you explore the inland waterways by boat or on foot.  Later in the day, visit the beach at Horsey, one of the best places on this stretch of coast to see grey seals during the winter.  Spend the night at Cromer or Sheringham. 

Beth Chatto Gardens, Essex
Day 4

There’s more wildlife to explore along the Norfolk coast today, most notably at Cley Marshes where you’ll find an excellent visitor centre – perfect for those cold winter days.  If you missed the seals at Horsey there is another opportunity at Blakeney where you can take a boat trip out to Blakeney Point. Spend the night at Wells-next-the-Sea or Holkham.

Day 5

Before heading back to Harwich, take a walk along the beach at Holkham or visit Holkham Hall. Explore the park and see the deer and if you have time, visit the hall and exhibition. Stop off at Great Yarmouth and visit the Sea Life Centre where you can see Green Turtles as well as a variety of fish and other sea life.

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