Six greatCar-free Spring walksin Norfolk

From wild saltmarshes to immaculate stately homes, waterside boardwalks to colourful village streets, Norfolk’s landscapes are endlessly varied. There is plenty here to delight all kinds of visitors: foodies and birdwatchers, historians and boat-lovers. Norfolk County Council have collected a huge database of Norfolk Trails for walkers, cyclists and horse-riders with downloadable maps and a searchable interactive overview. Best of all, you don’t need a car to access many of these adventures: you can get to them easily by bus or train. Here are six of the best spring walks that you can reach car-free.

  • County: in Norfolk
  • Great for: churches | coastal walking | gardens | good cafés and pubs | historic buildings | wild flowers | wildlife | woodland walks |
  • Refreshments: lots of great cafes, restaurants and pubs.
  • Please note: researched/updated in February 2024. If anything’s changed or you have more tips to share, do get in touch: features@goodjourney.org.uk
  1. Brancaster Staithe (5 miles)

    Wide views of the Norfolk coast are followed by stretches of coast path through serene reed beds and flowering saltmarsh on this short, but varied walk around Brancaster Staithe. It passes landmarks from across the centuries like the site of a Roman fort and a brand-new section of coastal boardwalk. Don’t miss St Mary’s church at the start in Burnham Deepdale with its round Saxon tower and carved Norman font. Bright blue waymarks and signs will help keep you on track.

    • From gorse-fringed Barrow Common, there are great views of the coast and of Scolt Head Island, just offshore. The common itself is full of flowers throughout the spring, from the earliest blackthorn bushes and coconut-fragrant gorse through to later harebells, stonecrops and bedstraw.
    • Along the coast path, look out for seals, several types of ducks, and wading birds including big, curve-billed curlews.
    • So how do I get to Brancaster Staithe? The walk starts from Burnham Deepdale church. Bus 36 from King’s Lynn to Fakenham stops there hourly (the stop is sometimes called Delgate Lane), seven days/week. It also stops outside the Jolly Sailors pub, an excellent place for refreshments during or after the walk.
    • Yes, what about refreshments? The Jolly Sailors is a delightfully friendly, informal pub serving pizza and pub classics as well as local specialities like Brancaster mussels with fresh bread. Near the start/end of the walk, you will also find the Deepdale café and the well-stocked Dalegate Market.
    • If you want to stay the night in the area, which has lots of great walking routes, the fabulous Deepdale Camping and Rooms is right next to the bus stop and offers a green travel discount for car-free guests.  
  1. Salhouse Broad (5½ miles)

    This circuit from Salhouse station is really close to Norwich and is one of the most accessible areas of the Broads. The village sign for Salhouse shows two men cutting reeds for thatch. This walk from the station and through the village passes numerous thatched houses and even a thatched church as well as some of the nearby reed beds that supplied the area’s roofing material for centuries. The boardwalks and wooded paths around one corner of Salhouse Broad are short but beautiful with boat hire in season, grassy beaches and picnic sites.

    • The broad is particularly rich in butterflies and dragonflies, which hatch or arrive in spring. Red admirals feed on the hemp agrimony flowers and rare swallowtails can be seen from May. There are blossoming trees in the woods too, including blackthorn, hawthorn and cherry.
    • So how do I get to Salhouse? Hourly trains from Norwich take just ten minutes to reach Salhouse railway station and the start of this walk. Bus 5B also runs hourly from the centre of Norwich and stops outside the Stag.
    • Where can we have lunch? The Stag is a traditional village pub with a twist. Recently-renovated, it now boasts gourmet food, vibrant decor and even luxury bedrooms. From April, the Hungry Otter kiosk opens on a grassy bank above the broad with picnic areas close by, selling drinks, snacks and local ice creams.
  1. King's Lynn to Narborough (13 miles)

    The first stretch of the Nar Valley Way is exceptionally beautiful in springtime. This leg-stretching waterside hike follows the little River Nar out of Kings Lynn into wide open countryside. It runs past lakes and trees, an old Augustinian Priory and a former bone mill.

    • The final miles, winding among alders and willows, are particularly pretty. From the village of Narborough at the end, comfortable buses run every half hour back to Kings Lynn, with its pubs, cafés and railway station. Apart from the start and end, there are no refreshments along the way so don’t forget your picnic – and binoculars too to spot everything from grey wagtails to great white egrets.
    • So how do I get back to King’s Lynn? A/B/C Excel buses connect both ends of this walk and run direct from Peterborough to Norwich. There are also hourly trains to King’s Lynn railway station from Cambridge and London Kings Cross.
    • These are just a few of the walks in the Norfolk Trails collection. For more routes all over the county, you can check out this interactive map.
    • And, for more car-free adventures in Norfolk take a look at Good Journey.