Jump to content

North Norfolk break
9 – 13 October 2023 *

Four days in the field on the North Norfolk Coast

* Suggested arrangement is to arrive on the Monday (9 Oct) with four days in the field 10-13 October. Participants might depart either late Friday (13 Oct) or Saturday morning (14 Oct). There is scope to do more or fewer days.

This web page outlines details of Honeyguide's 'north Norfolk break' in autumn (similar pages cover spring and winter breaks here). The plan is that participants book the hotel themselves, and Honeyguide's Rob Lucking will be your nature guide for the stay. This break will be mainly focussed on birdwatching, given the area and time of year, but we'll enjoy whatever wildlife is around.

October can offer pleasant weather and some of Norfolk's best birdwatching, with resident birds, migrants and early arriving winter birds, including spectacular flocks of waders and pink-footed geese.

We will visit a mix of sites, from well known nature reserves such as Cley Marsh and Holkham NNR to lesser-known sites, off the beaten track. The itinerary isn’t set in stone and we’ll retain a degree of flexibility to suit the prevailing conditions and respond to any good wildlife that turns up.


This is the outline plan for 10-13 October. There is no visit planned for RSPB Snettisham as there are no suitable high tides for the wader roost here.

Day 1: Holkham National Nature Reserve
Holkham NNR is England’s largest National Nature Reserve and comprises a wide range of habitats including an impressive sandy beach, pine and broad-leaved woodland and coastal grazing marsh. We will start at Lady Anne’s Drive (car parking charges apply) and explore Holkham Bay for wintering snow buntings & shorelarks, divers & sea duck. We will then move to the grazing marshes for wintering wildfowl, possibly three species of egret and raptors. If time pemits, we will end the day at Holkham Park for roosting red kites.

Holkham Beach
Holkham Beach

Day 2: Cley marshes and Blakeney

We start the day at world-famous Cley Marshes nature reserve for a walk and birdwatching from its several hides, and later for lunch.

In the afternoon we will visit Blakeney Freshmarsh.

(Sometimes on this day we've taken the boat trip from Morston Quay into Blakeney Harbour, though this year the tides/times mean this isn't a practical option.)

Later we move on to Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s world-famous Cley Marshes nature reserve for lunch and a walk.

Cley mill
Cley mill

Day 3: Wells and Stiffkey
We will start at North Point pools, a newly created wetland just to the east of the seaside town of Wells-next-the-Sea which usually hold a good selection of wildfowl. We will then move to Stiffkey where we will scan the salt marsh for roosting hen harriers, merlin and peregrine.

North Point wetlands at Wells
North Point wetlands at Wells.

Day 4: Holme NWT and RSPB Titchwell Marsh
Morning at NWT's Holme-next-the-Sea nature reserve.

Our final afternoon will be spent at the RSPB’s Titchwell Marsh nature reserve, starting with lunch at the RSPB café. Works to the fresh marsh and reedbeds were completed recently (details here) and there will be plenty of birds for us to look at. The freshwater marsh can hold impressive numbers of wildfowl and the shallow waters of Brancaster Bay are good for grebes, divers and sea duck. If we’re still going at dusk we will watch marsh harriers (and hen harrier if we are lucky) and little egrets come in to roost. From here it's also very practical for anyone wishing to set off home in good time to return to the hotel.


Accommodation will be at the Titchwell Manor Hotel. There are special arrangements for Honeyguiders. For anyone who is interested, please contact the Titchwell Manor Hotel direct on 01485 210221 or info@titchwellmanor.com and mention Honeyguide when booking.

Alternatively Honeyguiders may wish to source self-catering accommodation, for example via airbnb. Anywhere between Brancaster and Wells-next-the-Sea is reasonably central for the sites we will be visiting. If the group is dispersed, instructions on where we will be meeting at the start of each day will be provided in advance.

Lunches: All sites we will be visiting have visitor centres with cafés for lunch, toilet facilities & shop. It helps to bring membership cards for National Trust, RSPB and/or NWT.

Holiday details & how to book

Days/dates: the dates above are four days in the field, Tuesday to Friday. We expect most people to have either four or five nights at the Titchwell Manor Hotel: to arrive on the Monday and leave on Friday or on Saturday morning.

Hotel cost: depends on the choice of room. Rates for standard ('good') and other rooms will be emailed (please ask Chris, contact us) with the special arrangements for Honeyguiders.

Price:  £100 per day fee for your guide (including guide's expenses, boat trip and conservation contribution).

Deposit: none to Honeyguide. You will be invoiced after the break.

Booking: no booking form is needed. Just keep us informed!

Local travel: in your car, or in Rob's car if you are comfortable with that, or car sharing by mutual consent. No minibus is being booked.

Maximum number (one guide): 8 plus guide. Local Honeyguiders may join the group on some days if the group isn't fully booked.

Conservation project

£40 per person will be donated to Norfolk Wildlife Trust (your guide Rob Lucking is an NWT trustee).


Rob Lucking

Rob Lucking, Honeyguide local leader for this break.

Rob Lucking lives in a small village near Fakenham in North Norfolk and worked for the RSPB for 23 years, latterly as the Area Manager for North Norfolk, Lincolnshire & The Brecks.

Rob has led and co-led wildlife holidays for Honeyguide to Lesvos and Crete and is now a freelance ornithologist, ecologist, horticulturalist and tour guide. Rob is a trustee (Council member) of Norfolk Wildlife Trust. 

Rob was also Honeyguide leader for the Lincolnshire Wash in June 2022.

Photos on this page are mostly by Rob Lucking.

Rob's Honeyguide holiday reports for Lesvos in April 2009 and September 2010 (for interest and fun!)

Reports and blogs

North Norfolk break Holiday report, October 2023.

North Norfolk break Holiday report, October 2022.

North Norfolk break Holiday report, February 2022.

Holkham, 15 July 2022, guided walk blog, with Rob Lucking.

Holkham, 17 January 2022, guided walk blog, with Rob Lucking.

North Norfolk break Holiday report, October 2021.

North Norfolk break Holiday report, May 2021.

Snettisham and Dersingham, 13 September 2021, guided walk blog with Rob Lucking.

Wells guided walk, 1 April 2021, guided walk blog with Rob Lucking.

Published note

Natterjack 164, February 2024, p6: Ivy Bee expanding tastes, from October 2023's break.


Spoonbills now breed at Holkham National Nature Reserve.

great white egret

Great white egret.

Once a rarity in the UK, great white egrets are being seen regularly in Norfolk in the last year or so.

common darter

Common darters are still on the wing on sunny days in October, along with various species of butterflies

slipper limpets

Slipper limpets, centre, are a non-native species of shellfish well established in north Norfolk, Here they are with razor shells and cockles.

They are 'sequential hermaphrodites'; they change gender in turn.

Honeyguiders at Holkham

Honeyguiders at Holkham, with local guide Rob Lucking.

Saltmarsh at RSPB Titchwell Marsh

Saltmarsh at RSPB Titchwell.

Titchwell Manor Hotel

Titchwell Manor Hotel

Create your own Norfolk break

Variations on the theme of this and our Norfolk break in the Broads area could be possible.

We are in the market for ideas for what Honeyguiders would like to do


We hope that we run without Covid restrictions, but of course this is difficult to predict. It may be wise to have a face mask with you and adapt to what ever the arrangement may be.

Customer protection

Honeyguide normally offers customer protection through our Air Travel Operator's Licence (see our ATOL page). There are no flights so that doesn't apply.

Your accommodation contract is with the hotel and with only guiding provided by Honeyguide, there is no holiday 'package'.

Facebook Honeyguide
... where there are many holiday photos to enjoy.

Atol protected

The air holidays shown are ATOL Protected by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is ATOL 3253. ATOL Protection extends primarily to customers who book and pay in the United Kingdom. Click on the ATOL logo if you want to know more.

Helping you enjoy wildlife – Helping you protect wildlife