Without a doubt, one of the most unexpected sightseeing opportunities in the east of England in the winter months is the grey seal colonies of the north Coast of Norfolk.
Every winter many thousands of grey seal pups are born across this short stretch of coastline, and this winter has been especially kind to the fluffy visitors- with nearly 4000 pups spotted so far this winter, almost double that of the winter of 2020!
There are two ideal places to see these beauties in their natural habitat doing their thing (which, honestly, seems to mostly be lounging around looking cute!)
Blakeney Point is home to England's largest grey seal colony, with many thousands making it their temporary home. Situated on the North Norfolk coastline and just a short trip by boat is a 4 mile shingle spit conserved by the National Trust due to his ecological significance, and fragility.
Boat tours run multiple times a day that will take you close to the seals, while still keeping a safe enough distance so it's not to disturb them.
The boats pass through the Blakeney Nature Reserve along the River Glaven, which itself is a great bird-watching location, past the Old Lifeboat House, and out to Blakeney Point towards the river mouth, where the majority of the Grey Seals congregate. It's a spectacular trip and the guides are brilliant at pointing out wildlife at such a distance you have to wonder if they have bionic eyes - a serious talent!
Get there: https://goo.gl/maps/sdC1WxwVWkcXVE9eA
A few miles further down the coast is Horsey Gap, providing seal watching opportunities by foot rather than requiring a boat trip.
Just a 10 minute walk from the main car park is a long sand dune which separates the land from the beach. Climbing the dune gives a perfect view down onto the beach and the hundreds of furry seal pups below - quite a sight!
The are viewing platforms dotted along the dune, and the path is dotted with interpretation signs educating about the seals, their diets, behaviours etc, so by the time you see your first seal you'll feel like an expert in seal-ology (presumably this is a thing…)
Horsey gap attracts around 70,000 visitors every year between November and January so can be a little busy, but the beach is long enough that if you want to seal-spot in peace there's ample space further down. The view back over Norfolk is worth the walk itself even out of seal-season, especially at sunset!
The Friends of Horsey Seals group provides volunteer wardens who do a great job of both protecting the young animals, and providing further education for those still curious after the crash course on the walk to the beach. They rely solely on goodwill, so do consider a donation after your visit to keep them there for future visitors to enjoy, and to help protect the seals each year!
Get there: https://goo.gl/maps/cmYEWLPrmTc3LWxL9
If this blog has helped you plan your trip to see the seals, we'd be extremely grateful if you'd consider a small token of thanks via our Buy Me A Coffee page. Hours, days, weeks and months of research, and writing go into our posts - we've opted not to paywall the content, but if you're in the position we'd be incredibly appreciative of the support! Thank you - Max & Bela