Holme Dunes, photo by Richard Osbourne 2/4
Holme Dunes, photo by Mike Page 3/4
Holme Dunes, photo by Liz Dack 4/4

Holme Dunes

At Norfolk’s northwest corner, where The Wash meets the North Sea, Holme Dunes is superbly located to attract migrating birds.

It also holds a variety of important habitats which support numerous other wildlife species including natterjack toads, butterflies and dragonflies, as well as a large number of interesting plants. Various military remains from the Second World War can be glimpsed around the reserve, including the remnants of a target-railway used to train artillery.

Much earlier remains have also been discovered including Roman pottery and, in 1998, a well-preserved Bronze Age timber circle, which became known as ‘Seahenge’. The circle was uncovered by strong tides, having been hidden for some 4,000 years. No longer at Holme, the structure was removed for preservation purposes by archaeologists. It is now on view at King’s Lynn Museum.

DOWNLOAD the Holme Marsh walk map (PDF)

Car park booking system update

During summer 2021, we trialled an online pre-booking system for the main car park at Holme Dunes to help manage visitors accessing the nature reserve and protect the site. Visitors will no longer need to pre-book a car parking space and may simply turn up and purchase their ticket on the day. 


Coronavirus: read our guidance on visitor centre safety measures - what to expect

From Hunstanton head north along the A149 Coast Road for 4km (2.5 miles), where you will then take a  left turn and drive down Beach Road. The reserve is signposted. Please park in the NWT car park on the left- hand side of the track. Entrance to the nature reserve and start of the trails are beside the visitor centre. A number of hides overlook the pools and grazing marshes. There is a charge for non-NWT members. The Lynx Coastliner bus stops on the main road 3km (1.9 miles) away.

Access for those with limited mobility
From the car park it is possible to access the Norfolk Coast Path via a hardened path. The coastal path which runs adjacent to the reserve has some sections of easy access boardwalk. The reserve also has some sections of boardwalk/hardened paths leading to one accessible hide.

Visitor Centre:
No specific disabled car parking bays but a rough surface leads to the centre and a ramp to the entrance and patio area. The unisex toilets are wheelchair accessible but are only available when the centre is open.

Please note that the dunes and their wildlife are very susceptible to erosion and disturbance, so please follow all on-site access instructions. During busy periods in the summer visitor numbers may be limited.


Birds - Little tern, ring ouzel, ringed plover, redshank, lapwing, marsh harrier, shoveler
Reptiles and amphibians - Natterjack toad


Birds - Avocet, little tern, black-tailed godwit, ringed plover, redshank, lapwing, bittern, marsh harrier, shoveler
Reptiles and amphibians - Natterjack toad
Plants - Southern marsh orchid, sea lavender


Birds - Black-tailed godwit, wigeon, pink footed goose, brent goose, Slavonian grebe, twite, spotted redshank, pied flycatcher, curlew, bar-tailed godwit, knot, ringed plover, redshank, lapwing


Birds - Wigeon, pink footed goose, brent goose, snow bunting, long tailed duck, Slavonian grebe, twite, spotted redshank, curlew, bar-tailed godwit, knot, ringed plover, redshank, lapwing


Sea Buckthorn
Probably planted to help stabilise the dunes, this spiky silvery shrub is prevalent here. In autumn, its bright orange berries are a godsend to the thousands of migrating birds, such as wintering thrushes, that stop off at Holme.

Barn Owl
There are few sights in Norfolk more evocative than the ghostly form of a barn owl carefully quartering the fields and dykes. NWT Holme Dunes is one of the best places to catch up with the ethereal birds as they hunt silently over the grazing marshes in the late afternoon. Calm days are the best time to observe them.

This unmistakeable black-and-white wader, with its characteristic upturned bill, breeds in small numbers on the reserve, and can often be watched feeding in front of the hides during the summer.

Migrating and vagrant birds
The unique location of NWT Holme Dunes means it attracts large numbers of migrating birds. In spring, wheatears and warblers are common, with large numbers of finches and thrushes in the autumn. Scarce migrants such as wryneck, yellow-browed warbler and barred warbler are almost annual. When the conditions are just right, thousands of tired migrants take shelter among the scrub and dunes in what is known as a ‘fall’.

Holme is a good place to seawatch: with the correct winds gannets, skuas, terns and divers can be watched passing by the coastline in their hundreds.

  Coastal footpath partial closure
Please be aware that a section of the coastal footpath around Holme Dunes has been closed by Norfolk County Council for boardwalk repairs. This does not involve NWT land or footpaths.

This work began on 10 January and is expected to take six weeks to complete, weather permitting.

The work is taking place along Thornham Footpath 3 (FP3), between Staithe Lane and Church Street. While this section of the Coast Path is temporarily closed, there is a diversion route in place following the road between Staithe Lane and Church Lane. Details can be seen on the Council website.



Post code
PE36 6LQ
Map reference
OS Landranger 132
Grid reference
TF 714 449
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