Blak­eney:

Beau­ti­ful boaty Blak­eney, fa­mous for its salt­marshes and seals, was once a bustling cargo port – with pi­rates!

EDP Norfolk - - INSIDE -

Nine fun facts about this coastal gem

1 SEALS

Some of the most fa­mous res­i­dents of Blak­eney are its seals. Blak­eney Point has Eng­land’s largest seal colony, with more than 2,000 pups born ev­ery win­ter. Boat trips run from Blak­eney and Morston to visit the grey seals. Blak­eney is also pretty close to heaven for bird­watch­ers. Look for ringed plovers, oys­ter­catch­ers, Brent geese and com­mon teal.

2 PI­RATES

Blak­eney was not al­ways the idyl­lic haven of tran­quil­lity it ap­pears to­day. In the 14th cen­tury pi­rates sailed from the vil­lage to cap­ture ships and strip them of their car­goes. Two cen­turies later the peo­ple of Blak­eney are said to have re­fused to send a ship to join the fleet be­ing put to­gether to fight the Span­ish Ar­mada.

3 MOV­ING SCENERY

Blak­eney Point is a four mile spit of shin­gle and sand-dunes, grow­ing longer and closer to the shore ev­ery year. Part of an of­fi­cial Area of Out­stand­ing Nat­u­ral Beauty, and the Blak­eney Na­tional Na­ture Re­serve, the best way to get there is by boat, per­haps as part of a seal-watch­ing trip, or the long walk from Cley beach for a more ar­du­ous ap­proach.

4 Spicy

Blak­eney was a com­mer­cial sea­port un­til the early 20th cen­tury – not quite on a par with Felixs­towe to­day, but ships from across the me­dieval world docked here to un­load spices and tex­tiles. Then the har­bour is silted up and only small boats could nav­i­gate the creek out to the open sea.

5 HER­ITAGE

Fif­teenth cen­tury Blak­eney Guild­hall was prob­a­bly built as a home for a pros­per­ous fish mer­chant, and was once owned by a nearby fri­ary be­fore be­ing used to store cargo, grain, coal and fish­ing bait – and, dur­ing the First World War, as a tem­po­rary mor­tu­ary for sailors. For more than 400 years it has been owned by the vil­lage, to be used for the ben­e­fit of the vil­lagers.

6 A CHURCH WITH TWO TOW­ERS

The vil­lage church has a main tower more than 100ft high, plus a nar­row tower once used as a bea­con to guide boats into Blak­eney Har­bour. Look care­fully on the 15th cen­tury stone walls in­side the church to find me­dieval graf­fiti of sail­ing ships.

7 Sto­ries and se­cret tun­nels

A se­cret (so se­cret it has never been found) tun­nel is said to run from the Guild­hall to the re­mains of a fri­ary. Leg­end has it that a vi­o­lin­ist and his white cat ven­tured into the tun­nel many cen­turies ago, and have never emerged. They do, how­ever, ap­pear on the vil­lage sign. Another story with a Nor­folk link is the novel The Ea­gle Has Landed, by Jack Hig­gins. Jack stayed in the Blak­eney Ho­tel while re­search­ing his story of Nazi para­troop­ers at­tempt­ing to as­sas­si­nate Win­ston Churchill in north Nor­folk. In 1976 the novel was made into a film star­ring Michael Caine, Don­ald Suther­land, Don­ald Plea­sance and Robert Du­val.

8 EX­PLORE SOME MORE

Learn how to catch and hold a crab, bor­row binoc­u­lars to check out the birds, go on a bug hunt and col­lect stick­ers and stamps in a scrap­book. The Na­tional Trust runs reg­u­lar wildlife ac­tiv­ity days on Tues­days through the sum­mer, fo­cused on Blak­eney Quay. On its Ter­rific Tues­days, en­trance is £3 and equip­ment can be bor­rowed; for more in­for­ma­tion con­tact na­tion­al­trust.org.uk

9 PARTY ON

The Blak­eney Re­gatta race week be­gins on Au­gust 13 – pre­ceded by an an­nual fes­ti­val of wa­tery fun fo­cused around Blak­eney Quay. En­joy aquatic sports on Thurs­day Au­gust 9 – fea­tur­ing the chance to walk a greasy pole – then sand­cas­tle-build­ing and gilly­catch­ing com­petions (gilly­ing is the Blak­eney word for crab­bing) on Satur­day, Au­gust 11 and ru­ral sports on the vil­lage play­ing field the fol­low­ing day.

Gray’s Trav­el­ling Fun Fair will be at Blak­eney Carnser car park for its an­nual visit from Au­gust 13-19 and the Party on the Pas­tures, hosted by the par­ish coun­cil is on Sun­day, Au­gust 19, with stalls, fair­ground rides, live mu­sic, cir­cus en­ter­tain­ment, a dog show, re­fresh­ments and the pre­sen­ta­tion of the 2018 Vol­un­teer Awards.

Seals, mostly Grey seals and pups, just laz­ing around on Blak­eney Point

The vil­lage sign Blak­eney Har­bour

The Blak­eney Guild­hall

The Lifeboat House at Blak­eney Point

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