British beach of the week: Holkham Bay
As part of a summer series on Britain's best beaches, Alf Alderson and his sidekick Finn visit Holkham Bay, in Norfolk.
Continuing our tour of Britain's coast, collie pup Finn and I find ourselves walking mile after glorious mile along the vast expanse of sand on north Norfolk's Holkham Bay.
Holkham Bay, Norfolk.
A seemingly infinite stretch of golden sands running down to the blue-green waters of the North Sea, backed by huge horizons - you feel as if you could walk forever. The sensation of space is totally liberating, especially if you're a collie pup.
The beach is not recommended by The Good Beach Guide, but the bay is one of the country's largest coastal nature reserves, and the water quality is correspondingly high.
Approach the beach from Wells-next-the-Sea at the east end of the bay, or from Lady Anne's Drive at Holkham village, just off the A149. Although Holkham is a popular beach, it's so huge that it's easy to find solitude. Because it's part of a coastal nature reserve, the associated dunes, saltflats and pine woods are inhabited by a wide variety of bird and wildlife.
Solitude; swimming (although beware of currents); dog walking; riding; picnics; birdwatching; naturists (usually lurking in the dunes).
Chill northerly winds - in which case, shelter in the dunes and pine woods above the beach.
Where to park
In the large car park at Wells-next-the-Sea (£4 a day) or at Lady Anne's Drive (£3 a day).
Where to eat
There are plenty of options in Wells-next-the-Sea, and the Victoria Hotel (01328 713230; www.holkham.co.uk) at Holkham village has a fine restaurant specialising in local produce. But surely the best option here is to take a picnic…
Where to stay
The obvious port of call is the much-acclaimed Victoria Hotel (see above; double rooms from £120). Each room is an individually designed mix of the opulent and esoteric and the hotel is just a 10-minute walk from the beach.
A good-value b & b option is Arch House (01328 710112; www.archhouse.co.uk; rooms from £28) in Wells-next-the-Sea, an 1830s Excise house just a few minutes' walk from access to Holkham Bay.
Or if you're on a budget, head for Deepdale Backpackers' Hostel (01485 210256; www.deepdalefarm.co.uk) at Burnham Deepdale. This neat and welcoming hostel has dorm accommodation (from £10.50), and rooms from twin (from £28) to family (from £63), plus camping pitches and tipis; it's also well placed for dining at the award-winning White Horse (01485 210262; www.whitehorsebrancaster.co.uk) gastropub at nearby Brancaster Staithes.
Did you know?
Gwyneth Paltrow strolled across Holkham's far-reaching sands in the closing scene from the film Shakespeare in Love.
The Telegraph - Journalist: Alf Alderson