Cley (pronounced Cly by the way) is a place that has changed much over its history, evolving into the beautiful village of today that is enjoyed by holidaymakers and birders alike. Next the sea is these days a misnomer. Land reclamation efforts in the 17th century managed to silt up the port on the river Glaven here, and though the sea did move back the land was not suitable for farming. There is still evidence of the days when Cley was a significant port: the windmill is one of the two great landmarks here; and there are Flemish gables on various houses in the settlement that tell a tale of what was once a cosmopolitan seaport. The other great landmark is the beautiful church of St Margaret, perfectly sited on a small rise by the village green. As with so many of Norfolk’s churches, St Margaret’s reflects the economic boom in medieval Norfolk, when wool merchants and the seaports made the area the wealthiest in the country for a time. St Margaret’s was largely built in the 14th century by masons of the Ramsay family who also built the Palace of Westminster, a fact that emphasises the importance of the area and of Cley in particular in that era. Facilities within the village far exceed what might be expected of a place whose population was just 376 at the last census. There are two pubs, several eateries, galleries, a delicatessen and a bookshop. This area is noted for its seafood – Cromer with its crabs is about ten miles east along the scenic A149, Stiffkey with its blues (cockles) half that to the west on the same road. Cley has a smokehouse that uses local catches in its production, but the shingle beach is a good place for those with the gear to do their own fishing – flatties can be found all year round, and at various times of the year cod, mackerel and even bass can be found in the waters here. The biggest draw to the area is, however, the birding: Cley Marshes, Blakeney Point, and Salthouse Marshes are all grouped around the village. Cley Marshes are preserved by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, and there are boardwalks and even a café there for birders to use – very useful when the cold east wind blows across the North Sea. The views in and from the village are worth a visit in themselves, and it is not for nothing that the place has been designated an area of outstanding natural beauty. The A149 coast road is great for a sightseeing drive, but perhaps the best way to see the area is on foot, the Norfolk Coast Path passing through Cley as it winds around the coast to distant Holme next the Sea.
Pub and Bar
Places to Stay near Cley Next The Sea
Blakeney Hotel (1.05 miles)
Morston Hall (2.29 miles)
We don't pretend what we offer is unique. However, we know our fusion of hotel, restaurant and surroundings is a rare combination anywhere in the British Isles. Morston Hall is owned and run by Tracy ... More