Is Blakeney the prettiest village in Norfolk?

Blakeney Harbour as dusk falls. Photo: Lesley Buckley

Blakeney Harbour as dusk falls - Credit: Lesley Buckley/iwitness24

Beautiful Blakeney is famous for its seals, boats, birds and history – and stories of pirates and secret tunnels too

Wander along lovely Blakeney Quay. It’s a haven of tranquillity today, busy with sailing boats when the tide is right, but still peaceful compared to its medieval heyday as a commercial harbour when ships from across the Europe unloaded goods here. Centuries the village was also infamous for the pirates who sailed from the Quay to strip ships of their valuable cargo.  

Boats in a very calm Blakeney Quay.

Boats in a very calm Blakeney Quay. - Credit: Martin Sizeland/iwitness24

Blakeney Guildhall, just across the road from the Quay, was once part of a medieval friary but for more than 400 years has been owned by the village. During the First World War it was used as a temporary mortuary for shipwrecked sailors. A secret tunnel is rumoured to run from here - a violinist and his white cat are said to have in ventured in many centuries ago and never emerged.  

Blakeney village sign

Blakeney village sign - Credit: Matthew Usher

Blakeney Guildhall

Blakeney Guildhall - Credit: Matthew Usher

Seals outside the old Lifeboat House on Blakeney Point

Seals outside the old Lifeboat House on Blakeney Point - Credit: Martin Sizeland/iwitness24

Take a boat trip to see the seals. Blakeney Point is home to the largest colony of grey seals in the country with around 4,000 pups born here every year. Some of the trips include time on the remote Point itself.  

Back on dry land there are several fine pubs, restaurants and cafes – try The Moorings for seafood and the White Horse or King’s Arms for great food and drink in fine heritage buildings. There are also pretty places for great coffee and cake such as the Buoy Coffee House.  

The Blakeney Hotel has stunning views out over the marshes. Jack Higgins stayed here while researching his story of Nazi paratroopers attempting to assassinate Winston Churchill, which became the 1975 novel, and then the 1976 film, The Eagle Has Landed.  

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Beautiful Blakeney - Credit: Brian Shreeve/iwitness24

Talking of birds – there might not be many eagles but Blakeney is famous for the terns which nest on remote Blakeney Point, and all kinds of rarities which regularly blow in. Wheatears, redstarts, pied flycatchers and whinchats are seen regularly, with stork, crane and ibis also visiting.   

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Even the graffiti is fascinating in Blakeney. Two-towered medieval St Nicholas church, high above the ancient quayside village, has a soaring main tower plus a narrow tower once used as a beacon to guide boats into Blakeney Harbour. Inside, find graffiti of sailing ships, scratched on to walls and pillars centuries ago. 

Community spirit is strong in the village too. Some of the quaintest cottages are owned by a trust, set up in the village in 1946 to let affordable homes to people with local links.