Top Tips for Seal Watching at Horsey Gap, Norfolk

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, Norfolk

Horsey Gap Seals sign
This way to the Seals

Tucked down a sandy track, Horsey Gap beach becomes a magnet for breeding seals in late autumn. From mid-October, heavily pregnant seals start arriving at Horsey Beach and give birth shortly after. Bull seals follow to help feed and protect the mothers and pups. Beware: bull seals can be very aggressive and territorial. From mid-October to mid-January, the beach hosts hundreds of seals. Early in the breeding season, you can walk along the beach to see them, but access is restricted to special viewing platforms in the dunes as the season progresses.

Two kissing seals and a baby seal at Horsey Gap Beach Norfolk
Kissing seals!

Grey Seal Facts

I love a fact. Here are some fascinating grey 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.
Horsey Gap Seals
Time for a snooze

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.
Horsey Beach with seals

North Norfolk Seal Watching Boat Trips

Horsey Gap seals aren’t the only seals in Norfolk. Basking seals can be seen year-round on the North Norfolk coast, and the best way to see them outside the breeding season is to take a boat trip. Boats leave from Morston Quay and Blakeney Quay, costing £20 for adults and £10 for children. Make sure to book in advance as trips can fill up quickly.

Here are the main seal watching boat trip operators:

Horsey Gap sand dune with a sea view
Gap at Horsey Gap

Horsey Gap, Norfolk – Not just for Seals

Horsey Gap is beautiful year-round, with or without seals. Horsey Beach is a fine sandy strand perfect for sandcastles. There are no facilities, so bring a picnic or grab a tasty bacon bap from JT’s caravan in the car park. Walking back along the path behind the dunes, you can see some of the many World War II concrete defenses that litter the East Anglian countryside.

Horsey Gap
Junior CW’s framed by a World War II pillbox

How to get to Horsey Gap

Car or bicycle is the best way to get to Horsey Gap. It’s a 45-minute drive from Norwich. Look for the small signpost just beyond the Poppylands tea room if you’re coming from the south. Follow the narrow track to the pay and display car park, then follow the signs. Walking to the seals from the car park takes about ten minutes. For a longer walk or if the car park is full, park at the National Trust Horsey Windpump Carpark and follow footpaths across the fields and dunes to Horsey Gap, which will take about 45 minutes.

Seal Watching Horsey Gap Norfolk #familydayout #styacation

Norfolk is my home county for more family days out check out Crabbing at Wells next the Sea, Sculpture at Houghton Hall, Great Yarmouth Time and Tide Museum, Norwich, an Insider’s Guide or Quiet Norfolk, off the Beaten Track.

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23 Comments

  1. October 30, 2016 / 6:14 am

    Thank you for the mention :) Love your pics. Mark was gutted we got back to the car park too late for him to have a burger. Hehe. #MySundayPhoto

    • October 30, 2016 / 9:21 am

      You’ll just have to go again!

  2. October 30, 2016 / 6:34 am

    Hi Catherine, OooOOoo, I want to go to Horsey Gap and see the seals! The less facilities the better (in my opinion!). I love your last photo, the concrete defence certainly did make a nice frame.

    xx

  3. October 30, 2016 / 8:33 am

    Those seals are so beautiful. Next time I am in Norfolk I will have to remember this place.

  4. October 30, 2016 / 9:15 am

    What a treat to see the seals, I’ve seen them a couple of times in Cornwall but not in these numbers.

  5. November 5, 2016 / 12:16 pm

    This looks like such a beautiful place. Sorry I am late with my comment! #MySundayPhoto

    • November 5, 2016 / 1:03 pm

      Don’t worry, I’m impressed that you are commenting with your treatment. I have everything crossed for you xxx

  6. December 13, 2018 / 1:30 pm

    Those were some interesting facts about seals that I definitely didn’t know! We have a lot of seals down at the La Jolla Cove I grew up watching! Didn’t realize so many lived in Britain! #FarawayFiles

  7. December 13, 2018 / 1:38 pm

    The last time I saw seals like that were in San Francisco. Don’t need to venture far now! #FarawayFiles

  8. December 13, 2018 / 2:02 pm

    I had no idea you could view seals there! How gorgeous, another place to add to the UK bucket list
    #farawayfiles

  9. katerinaemalina
    December 13, 2018 / 2:58 pm

    I also didn’t know you could see seals here. I love Norfolk so much. Can’t wait to get back there #farawayfiles

  10. December 13, 2018 / 4:16 pm

    This looks like my kind of day out! I have never seen so many seals in the UK. We spotted them from a distance on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne a couple of years back but this looks like a better opportunity to see them close up. It looks chilly but so much fun! #FarawayFiles

  11. December 13, 2018 / 9:14 pm

    We’ve done similar days out here on the Northern California coast and I love seeing the wildlife up close and personal. Once we did have to scamper away pretty quick when some Elephant seals decided they were on the move and we were in their path. I’m surprised that dogs are allowed… #farawayfiles

  12. Anisa
    December 15, 2018 / 12:16 pm

    I have only been to Horsey Gap once and it was last May. We didn’t expect to see seals but we saw about 200! It was amazing, I definitely need to go back and I also want to do one of the boat tours. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • December 15, 2018 / 12:26 pm

      It is the most amazing place!

  13. December 19, 2018 / 6:17 pm

    My kids love seals. I was paying particular attention to your Do’s and Don’ts section as when we were in La Jolla, CA (known for its plethora of seals) everyone was walking right up to them, and so so did we – until a seal went for my daughter and almost bit her! It was a very close call! Suffice it to say we will still seal watch, but from a distance. Ha! Thanks for linking up with #farawayfiles

  14. February 1, 2020 / 2:47 pm

    First time I hear about Horsey Gap, but the pictures are beautiful, so will definitely put this on the list. In Norfolk, we’ve previously only done seal-spotting in Hunstanton. Next time around we’re planning on doing Blakeney, but might aim to squeeze Horsey Gap in on our way back to London. :-)

    • February 1, 2020 / 5:42 pm

      All good places to see seals, you don’t need a boat at Horsey so a bit more accessible

  15. September 28, 2020 / 1:15 pm

    I swam with those seals years ago at Blakeney point, that day were super playful and playing hide and seek with me ! Looking forward to going back with the kids soon, we preferred walking to taking a boat last time so they’d better be up for walking few kilometres :)

  16. Debbie
    November 15, 2021 / 11:44 pm

    A lovely, inspiring post. We saw the seals and had a great day out, thank you.

    I need to point out, however, that the male seals come back to mate with the mothers once they have given birth and can be quite aggressive. They aren’t the fond providers of child care that you describe.

    • November 16, 2021 / 4:03 pm

      Yes, they are aggressive in when interlopers, seal or other beasts, try to encroach

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