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Delightful BLAKENEY on the north Norfolk coast was once a busy port exporting fish, corn and salt, and is now a lovely little place of pebble-covered cottages sloping up from a narrow harbour. Crab sandwiches are sold from stalls at the quayside, the meandering high street is flanked by family-run shops, and footpaths stretch out along the sea wall to east and west, allowing long, lingering looks over the salt marshes.
Blakeney harbour is linked to the sea by a narrow channel, which wriggles its way through the salt marshes. The channel is, however, only navigable for a few hours at high tide – at low tide the harbour is no more than a muddy creek (ideal for a bit of quayside crabbing and mud sliding). Depending on the tides, there are boat trips from either Blakeney or Morston quay, a mile or two to the west, to Blakeney Point, a National Nature Reserve famed for its colonies of terns and several hundred common and grey seals. Operators include Beans Boats (Tel:01263/740 505, Web: www.beansboattrips.co.uk ) and Bishop's Boats (Tel:01263/740 753, Web: www.norfolksealtrips.co.uk ).
For accommodation, the quayside ABlakeney Hotel (Tel:01263/740 797, Web: www.blakeney-hotel.co.uk ; Price: 151-200) is one of the most charming seaside hotels in Norfolk, a rambling building with high-pitched gables and pebble-covered walls. The hotel has a heated indoor swimming pool, a secluded garden, and cosy lounges with exquisite sea views; it also serves outstanding food. Less expensive options include the Manor Hotel (Tel:01263/740 376, Web: www.blakeneymanor.co.uk ; Price: 91-110), which occupies a low-lying courtyard complex just east of the harbour; the King's Arms (Tel:01263/740 341, Web: www.blakeneykingsarms.co.uk ; Price: 61-70), a traditional pub with low, beamed ceilings and seven, modest, modern en-suite bedrooms just back from the quay on Westgate; and the White Horse (Tel:01263/740 574, Web: www.blakeneywhitehorse.co.uk ; Price: 71-90), an old pub in the centre of the village just up from the quay with nine bright and cheerful guest rooms.