Dog walking in Holkham and Wells, Norfolk

    Each year since we began house sitting in 2018, we’ve booked in for an annual sit at a cottage in Norfolk. We’re now firm friends with the home owner and her pooches, though over time older dogs have passed on and new arrivals have joined the family. Each time we come to house sit in Norfolk we ALWAYS visit Holkham and Wells for good dog walks! The three terriers currently in our care absolutely love going for a good walk, and the area offers several different options. From paved routes under cover to long, open stretches of sand, we like to think there’s something for every mood, every kind of weather, and every dog!

    We’ve spent many, many hours out on walkies in Holkham. Here’s some of our favourite places to roam with our four-legged friends!

    Holkham Estate

    Home to the beautiful Holkham Hall, the surrounding estate provides several different walking routes depending on your needs. With one of our pups just ten months old, and the eldest fourteen years, we think this is the best all-rounder for all dogs. We tend to park in the village car park just outside the Estate which gives you two hours of free parking before you have to pay. It takes us around fifteen minutes to walk from there to Holkham Hall with three terriers sniffing everything! There is parking at Holkham Hall but at the time of writing it is a flat charge of £5 per day.

    Our 2022 photo with the girls outside Holkham Hall - one of our annual traditions at our Norfolk house sit!
    Our 2022 photo with the girls outside Holkham Hall – one of our annual traditions at our Norfolk house sit!

    Arriving at the Estate, there is a large map showing all the different routes. There are seven main routes to take here ranging from 2km to 9.5km, though of course you can go off track and make up your own walk! Some walks mainly follow tarmac paths which might be preferable after a period of bad weather, while others follow a mixture of grassland and woodland track. Whichever route you take, the paths are very well maintained by the Estate staff and we’ve never had any trouble with our Norfolk pups! There are a couple of doggo water bowls dotted around close to the Hall, as well as many poo bins (though we have our own portable poo bin!) It’s worth mentioning that dogs must be kept on lead at all times, as the Estate is home to a herd of around 350 deer and other wildlife. The deer are quite a sight to behold, and while Inca and Winnie toddle on past, little puppy Pippin loves to stop and admire them as much as we do!

    Wells-Next-The-Sea

    Wells beach is an absolute must if you’re visiting Norfolk with your dog! With its line of pretty beach huts, sprawling sands and forest, we find ourselves coming back here multiple times during our Norfolk house sits as it’s a different walk each time. Parking is ample, though we choose the Freeman Street car park where you can enjoy exploring the beach for up to 2 hours for £3.50, which we usually find is enough – though you can pay for longer. Depending on which way you head to the beach, you’ll either go up a short flight of steps and follow a narrow pathway (not so great in busier times) or take one of the sloping paths through the forest that leads onto the sands. We don’t tend to take the concrete path towards the lifeboat station as this will lead you onto the small patch of beach where dogs are not permitted. Luckily the rest of the beach stretching out for miles is perfect for fluffy legs to have a good run! Six-year-old Winnie loves playing chase with other doggos on the beach here – it’s a fabulous place to let them run while keeping them in sight. At certain times of year there are small cordoned-off areas of the beach for nesting birds, but the beach is so expansive that it’s never affected our walks, and even at high tide there’s still miles of beach to enjoy. You may spot some seals lounging by the water too!

    On colder windy or rainy days, we head over the dunes and into the gorgeous forest which provides shelter from the elements. It’s so dense in the forest that the air is completely still and silent, and so beautiful that it’s Suze’s favourite place in the entire country! The maze of twisted trees has rough pathways to follow right along to the other end at Lady Anne’s Drive – another good parking spot down a straight dusty track opposite Holkham Estate, with the same parking charges. We tend to park at the Wells end more often, as Lady Anne’s Drive usually closes in bad weather for safety reasons. Depending on the route you take and how often your four-legged friends stop to sniff the woodland floor, or chase deer that are sometimes seen here(!) it can take around 45 minutes to walk from one car park to the other. There are ample poo bins at both car parks, though none on the beach, and both car parks have lovely cafes to enjoy a nice cuppa and a snack. Both the Lookout cafe at Lady Anne’s Drive and the Wells beach cafe are dog friendly, making them great places to rest after a walk with your pups!

    Burnham Overy Staithe

    We first visited this spot during our 2021 house sit with Inca, Winnie and dear departed Puff, while looking for a new walking route close to Holkham and Wells. We easily found free on-street parking on a residential road in the deserted Burnham Overy Staithe village (we were visiting in January). From there it’s a five minute walk down to the harbour to join the Burnham Overy Footpath which is part of the Norfolk Coastal Path. It’s definitely worth considering the weather if you’re planning to walk this footpath, as this raised pathway is completely unsheltered on both sides. Walking from the harbour to the beach takes a good half an hour – longer if your dogs stop to sniff every few feet as our Norfolk doggos do – and there are no offshoot pathways on the track. This means that, if it suddenly starts to rain or a blustery wind rolls in, once you’ve committed you either have to follow the path all the way to the beach to take shelter amongst the tall dunes, or choose to turn back and walk the way you’ve come. Hopefully your pooch will do their business at the start of this walk too, as there’s only one poo bin and it’s at the harbour!

    Puff walking at Burnham Overy Staithe
    Puff walking at Burnham Overy Staithe

    If you can visit on a good weather day, however, you’ll be rewarded with views along the beach as far as the eye can see. On a particularly adventurous day, we walked all the way from Burnham Overy Staithe, across the gorgeous sands all the way to the Lady Anne’s Drive end of Holkham beach. This took us around an hour and a half with our three dogs enjoying a good run along the sands, chasing after sticks and sniffing lots of little shells. If you’re going to commit to this walk, make sure you can manage the three hour round trip! As we did, you’ll have very tired pups once you arrive back at Burnham Overy Staithe. Another lovely element of this walk for us was seeing two seals in the harbour! Depending on the time of year you might spot a few of them around the boats. Our dogs were very interested in the sea doggos and we stopped to watch them from one of the benches along the path. One last thing to mention about the pathway here – while it’s not necessarily narrow, it becomes more so when passing other walkers and their dogs as the verge is steep on either side. Most people have their dogs off lead on the pathway, but if your four-legged friend tends to barrel at other dogs for a good play (we’re looking at you, Winnie) then it might be best to put them on lead to avoid anyone slipping down the verge!

    Holkham and Wells is abundant in beautiful walking spots, and we always enjoy finding more! Let us know in the comments below if you have any recommendations for us. You can also head over to our blog for more travel posts, or follow us on Instagram to see more snapshots of our adventures!