Walk along any Norfolk Beach and you are likely to see a seal bobbing alongside you in the sea. Seal watching at Horsey Gap is possible all year round but in the late autumn and early winter Horsey beach becomes seal central.
SEAL WATCHING AT HORSEY GAP
Tucked down a sandy track is Horsey Gap beach which in late autumn becomes a magnet to breeding seals. Come mid October heavily pregnant seals begin to arrive on Horsey Beach, the day after arrival they give birth. Then the bull seals arrive to help feed and protect the mothers and pups. From mid October to mid January the beach is home to hundreds and hundreds of seals. Early on in the breeding season you can walk along the beach to see them but when things get going access is restricted to special viewing platforms in the dunes.
GREY SEAL FACTS
I love a fact …. Here are some of my favourite seal facts:
- Half the world’s grey seals live in Britain.
- Seals gather in what is called a Rookery or Haul-out.
- Seal mother milk is 60% fat.
- Seal pups grow 2 kilograms a day.
- Bull seals can be 3 metres long and weigh 300 kilograms.
- Pups are born with with fluffy fur that is not waterproof.
- After 3 weeks a sleek grey waterproof coat grows.
SEAL WATCHING DO’S AND DON’T’S
- Do stay at least 10 metres away from the seals.
- Do keep dogs on leads.
- Don’t get too close as seals can bite.
- Do wear warm clothes as the wind whipping across the dunes might have come straight from the Arctic.
NORTH NORFOLK SEAL WATCHING BOAT TRIPS
You can see basking seals at all times of year on the North Norfolk coast, the best way to see seals outside the breeding time is to take a boat trip. Boats leave from Morston Quay and Blakeney Quay and cost £12 for adults and £6 for children, make sure you ring and book first or else you may arrive to find a full boat. We have done seal watching trips at all times of year in all weathers and always seen seals. There are four main seal watching boat trip operators and they all charge the same.
- Beans Boat Trips departs from Morston Quay
- Bishop’s Boats, departs from Blakeney Quay and Morston Quay
- Ptarmigan Blakeney Point Seal Trips, departs from Morston Quay
- Temples Seal Trips, departs from Morston Quay
HORSEY GAP, NORFOLK – NOT JUST FOR SEALS
Horsey Gap is beautiful at any time of year, with or without seals. It is has a sandy beach that begs to have sandcastles made on it. Don’t expect ‘facilities’, this is the remote Norfolk coast so bring a picnic or do as we did and have a tasty bacon bap from the JT’s caravan in the car park. If you walk back along the path at the back of the dunes you will see some of the many World War II concrete defences that litter the East Anglian countryside. The reinforced concrete has begun to decay but the view looking through the pillbox was too fine a frame to resist taking this snap of the Junior CW’s.
HOW TO GET TO HORSEY GAP
You can follow the aforementioned narrow track and park in the car park which is pay and display and then follow the signs. Walking to the seals from the car park takes about ten minutes or so. If you fancy a longer walk, or if the Horsey Gap car park is full, park in the National Trust Horsey Windpump Carpark and then follow footpaths across the fields and dunes to Horsey Gap, this will take about 45 minutes.
If you’d like to find out more about life on the Norfolk coast check out my Great Yarmouth Time and Tide Museum post.